The Night Technology Killed Christmas Traditions

technology and Christmas traditions

A tool is only as good as its user.

Most years no one asks the Jewish guy about Christmas traditions because no one expects us to haven one.

I am good with that. I wouldn’t think to ask a priest/reverend/pastor or imam what they do on Jewish holidays either but then again you don’t find the majority of people and business in the US talking about how they are going to spend Purim.

This year was different for me and I found myself in a semi-familiar role of playing the Jewish ambassador.

That is because many of my non Jewish friends stumbled across an article in The Atlantic called Why American Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas and followed up with telephone calls, emails and tweets asking me to confirm if this was accurate.

Most of these discussions involved a simple yes, that has been true for me but there were a few that went deeper and some even included references to a Washington Post piece called The War on Jewish Christmas must be stopped.

A few of the folks who are more familiar with the customs of my people asked me to explain what happens when we change the date of Chanukah and it intersects with Christmas.

I enjoy those conversations because it gives me my excuse to remind people that Chanukah always starts on the same day, the 25th of Kislev.

The Jewish calendar operates off of lunar cycles and not solar and they don’t match up precisely. So even though Jewish holidays always fall on same day on a Jewish calendar there is always going to be some play in where they fall on the Gregorian calendar.

Anyhoo, in my family when the two holidays overlap we usually opt for our standard Chanukah fare and not Chinese food.

The Night Technology Killed Christmas Traditions

Since there wasn’t any overlap this year and our bellies were still filled with the taste of brisket and latkes it made sense to go with the old Chinese food and a movie tradition.

While I debated between one or two orders of Egg Drop soup the kids debated between renting Guardians of the Galaxy and Dolphin Tale 2.

In true holiday fashion we came to quick and easy resolution and made our choices and that is where Christmas and technology decided not to get along.

Last February we stumbled upon a Chinese restaurant that we really liked not just because the food is excellent but because you can order online.

I loved the convenience of placing my order online. I didn’t have to wait on hold, keep calling because of a busy signal or worry about language difficulties.

Ordering was simple and within a short time the food was delivered, as my daughter says it was easy-peasy.

Until last night.

Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The conversations with people about Jewish Christmas traditions made me wonder how many people might have the same idea as we did so I made a point to place my order a solid hour before we planned on eating.

I figured if they surprised me and showed up earlier than expected it wouldn’t be a big deal because we didn’t have to be anywhere, it never occurred to me that it would take 2.5 hours for the food to reach my home.

Somewhere around 90 minutes after I ordered I realized I was really hungry and called the restaurant to ask for an update and was told they hadn’t even begun cooking it.

I asked what happened and she told me they were really busy and said it would be at least an hour before they could deliver.

Josh The Hunter/Gatherer

When I heard it would be an hour I told her I was going to come pick up our food and said I would be there in twenty minutes.

When I got to the restaurant I stood in line behind three people who said they had called their orders in at least 45 minutes earlier.

That didn’t make me happy but it did confirm my suspicion that they didn’t know how to effectively integrate the online ordering into their system.

When I got to the counter I made a point to be polite and I asked them why no one called me to let me know that it was going to take a million years more than two hours for my order to be ready and they said they didn’t have time to call.

I responded by suggesting they remove the online ordering capabilities because instead of helping it was hurting them. It was only exacerbated by them handing me a bill that included a delivery fee and tip on it.

Remember I am a guy who believes in working smarter and not harder but the utility of a tool is limited to the skill level of those using it.

There is no point in trying to add resources you don’t understand how to use well.


The night wasn’t a total bust. The food was excellent and the movie was fun and all things considered if this is the biggest problem I face I’ll be quite happy.

But if I had known how long it would take for our meal to be prepared I would have either chosen another restaurant or cooked my own meal.

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  1. Gina December 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    This is funny because we ran into the 80-year-old who lives on our floor this afternoon and Scott asked him what he was doing for Christmas. He said, “What all good Jews do, Chinese and a movie.” I hadn’t heard that before! Forgot to ask what they saw!

    • Josh December 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      You never get to to Northbrook or Skokie do you. 😉 My people have been doing this for quite some time now. Have you seen any good movies lately? I have a list of shows to catch, but have to integrate those with the wishes of the almost 10.5 year old boss and her brother.

  2. Larry December 25, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Next time – have a bagel.
    The line about Purim made me laugh.

    • Josh December 27, 2014 at 11:37 pm

      @Lardavbern:disqus Next time that may be it. I love carbs ways too much, so bagels are always good for me but FWIW I usually like a hot meal for dinner.

      Glad the line about Purim made you laugh. Hope you are enjoying the Winter break with the family.

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