« attention white people | Main | lileks calls it like it is »

an open letter to anti-holiday crusaders

Dear Holiday Grouches,

I am an atheist. I don't celebrate the birth of Christ, I don't believe in the Virgin Mary. Yet, I love Christmas. My kids are Catholic, my family is Catholic and I think of Christmas as time to share my love and imitation wealth with those I love. Good cheer, good times.

It upsets me that so many of you are making a bad name for all atheists, agnostics and non-Jesus believers. You write letters to the town council, to your legistlators, to the editor of the local paper and you complain about some plastic statues in front of the post office or library or any other publicly-maintained building.

What is that you find so offensive about a nativity scene? I hardly think that a piece of plastic that represents Mary and Joseph, a few animals and a baby will turn your children into Catholics overnight. We aren't talking Jack Chick here. There are no signs on these little stables that say "Become a Catholic or Die!"

Back when I was young (walk, snow, downhill both ways, etc.) I was in the school chorus. For our holiday spectacular we song both Oh, Holy Night and The Dreidel Song. Nobody made a fuss about it. No letters were written. My principal did not have to appear on CNN defending himself.

What has happened to this world that so many of you are offended by signs of religion? Does it harm you in any way to see Mary kneeling in front of the post office? Are there beacons of light shining out of Joseph's eyes, beckoning your young ones to receive the body of Christ? Does a menorah hold some mystical power so it sends out a secret signal that directs you to a Temple? How can candles be offensive? It's not like each nativity comes with a sign that says My God is Better Than Your God!

It's the holiday season. Yes, it's the Christmas season, but with merchants and retailers setting up their winter wonderlands at the end of October and not taking them down until January, the season now encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and New Year's.

It's a great time of year, which you would find out if you stopped being so pissed off at everyone. People are cheery. Towns are lit up in beautiful lights and the telephone poles are strung with garland and if you are lucky, it snows just a bit, just enough to lend a feel of authenticity to the season. There are parties with spiked eggnog and trees adorned with colors and stars and angels. Houses glow brighter each night as another candle on the menorah is lit.

Yet there you are, hunkered down in your basement, writing another letter to another congressman, demanding that action be taken against the library director who had the audacity to hang Christmas and Hannukah decorations in the children's room. You're busy picketing in front of the school that is putting on a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas because it's too overtly religious. Here's an idea: stop your letter writing campaign, stop bothering politicians who have more pressing issues to deal with and go find some holiday cheer. Even if you find it in the bottom of a bottle of rum.

And it's not just you anti-nativity people that bother me. It's the anti-capitalism crowd as well. Stop making the holidays about your issues. Like the damn Canadians who last year erected a giant sign that read Gluttony. Envy. Insincerity. Greed. Enjoy Your Christmas. Get over yourselves. I'll go about spreading comfort and joy to my family and friends while you hang around with your humorless, cheerless selves and toast the Grinch. Hell, even the Grinch came around after a while.

There are people in this world who think it is their calling in life to complain about everything. They find no joy in a kid opening an X-Box on Christmas morning. They find nothing wonderful at the sight of new fallen snow gathering around Mary and Joseph's feet as worshipers file out of midnight mass. You are one of these people. You are a joyless, bitter, antagnostic grinch. Do us all a favor and hibernate from Halloween until New Year's. Let us enjoy our holidays in peace, without people like you trying to take the beauty and wonder away from us.

Thank you.

Update: Josh Cohen has a lot to say about the "holiday" season.

TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference an open letter to anti-holiday crusaders:

» What I did on my holidays from d-42.com: the electronic home of Josh Cohen
So I'm reading this entry by Michelle of A Small Victory, and I'm thinking about why I really don't like the holiday season. Well, first of all, I'm Jewish. I'm used to having Christmas shoved down my throat for the... [Read More]

» Merry Christmas, My Atheist Friend from Solonor's Ink Well
Re: protesters who feel they need to tear down every symbol of Christmas in a public place. I hate to... [Read More]

» HOLIDAY THOUGHTS from OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY
Michele Catalano is an atheist, but loves the Christmas season and wishes everyone would quit whining about public displays of comfort and joy. Josh Cohen... [Read More]

» Friday Doo-Dads from Tightly Wound
From the "Ya THINK?" Department: "If I were a guy and I'd heard all those things about a girl, I don't know that I'd want to take her out." -- MONICA LEWINSKY Michele at A Small Victory sticks it to... [Read More]

» Friday Doo-Dads from Tightly Wound
From the "Ya THINK?" Department: "If I were a guy and I'd heard all those things about a girl, I don't know that I'd want to take her out." -- MONICA LEWINSKY Michele at A Small Victory sticks it to... [Read More]

» Ho Ho Humbug from Brain Fertilizer
Michele has a nice post on those who try to ruin Christmas for everyone through an overzealous attempt to stamp out all evidence of religion in society. Well, I think there are two main types of people doing this, and... [Read More]

» DISCOUNT BLOGORREAH™ from Discount Blogger
If you don't like the Holiday season, you won't like Michele's opinion. She thinks you ruin it for atheists! On the other hand, Josh Cohen is Jewish. He hates "the holiday season." But for different reasons. Outside the Beltway has... [Read More]

» Making The Rounds from The Thoughts of Hondonius Aurelius
Making The Rounds Being bored at work, I spent more time than usual making the rounds of the Blogosphere. [Read More]

» http://www.josephfinn.net/mt/archives/001821.html from In Apprehension...
The holiday season has truly begun, since we have the beginning of the "anti-holiday crusaders" whining: I am an atheist. [Read More]

Comments

Exactly my sentiments, but you expressed them so much better than I could!
tim

Thank you for that public service announcement to all crab-asses.

Is it ok to say "Amen! Preach on, sister!" to someone who considers herself an atheist?

if so, then "Amen! Preach on, sister!" If not, then, um, "Well done! You expressed what I feel exactly!"

Well said!

Couldn't have said it better myself...except the proper cliche is uphill both ways. ;-)

We should use those people as Yule Logs.

I hope it gets read by some of those who need to read it.
The rest of us agree with you.

I'm a long-time atheist who takes a week and a half off work at christmas because i love the season so much--the family, the cooking, the weather, the decorations, the presents, the great feeling you get.

i have no problem with the religious stuff at all--and it just wouldn't be the same to have the same trappings but call it the Midwinter Celebration or some nonsense.

we are only on earth a short time. everybody lighten up and enjoy yourselves

say it again, woo hoo, thanks for this post.

Sorry but Xmas adverts before Halloween piss me off. I mean do they actually think that people forget that Xmas is two months away? I think a lot of the grouchiness is caused by incessant playing of all the crap Xmas songs in shops. There are some very nice tunes for Christmas (and Chaunakah) I remember singing in chorus. However, hearing lame crap gets very tiring very quickly.

Easy way to avoid all the Xmas rubbish on telly. Just don't watch any TV.

However, anyone who gets pissy about Xmas lights paid for by public funds needs to seriously get a life.

OK I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that a nativity scene in front of a post office or school or other government building is no different than the 10 Commandments in a courthouse. It sends a message, no matter how subtle, that the government endorses a particular religion. Not being of that religion, it does bother me. Notice I did not say it offends me, that would be an overreaction.

And for those who will say that Santa is not Christian because he has no role in the religious aspect of the holiday, while I understand that point, from a non-Christian point of view, Santa is nothing but a symbol of Christianity.

You may now commence jumping on me.

Well said. It's about time for all of these people to get over themselves. They're turning life into just one miserable experience for everybody.

Faith: Ok, here's my take on it. The holiday decorations are there for a short period of time, to commemerate a holiday. They add to the festive atmosphere.

The ten commandments,on the other hand, are RELIGIOUS LAWS. They are doctrines. They "preach" how to live, how to conduct yourself. And, by the way, I really didn't have as many problems with the commandments being at that courthouse than I did at Judge Moore being such a buffoon.

I love you, girl, but if these comments derail into a fight about the commandments, I'll have to kill you next time we have lunch.

"There are people in this world who think it is their calling in life to complain about everything."

Well, yeah. We call them "liberals".

[/cheapshot]

Michele: OK, I'll concede the point that perhaps holiday decorations are not the equivalent of the Ten Commandments. But they still do send a message - unless they are tasteful white lights, I love those.

Um, I'm glad I'm going to Florida in a few days, I can avoid all of Long Island for a week. ;)

Yeah Faith, and I'm sure Santa bothers feminists and the NAACP because he's a white male in charge of distributing gifts, and the reindeer bother PETA because they're cruelly oppressed animals, and the elves bother whatever midget coalition because they're taking advantage of height-challenged individuals, etc., etc. As you can please some of the people some of the time, I suppose some of the people somewhere will be bothered by something, no matter how trivial the people, places or things happen to be.

Johno: There is a constitutional right to separation of church and state - which I do not find trivial. Not so for display of white men or animals.

I didn't make any mention of church/state. You may believe Santa is a Christian symbol. As a Catholic, I don't. St. Nicholas is, but he didn't come with the requisite reindeer, elves and commercialism that "Santa" represents. And I would bet that someone out there would find your "white lights" offensive as they do not represent adequate diversity in the holiday season. I personally couldn't care if government buildings want to put up Christmas, Jewish, Kwanzaa or secular decorations. Far be it for me to harsh their holiday spirit.

Faith,
I think that you are confusing a constitutional right with various court-ordered mandates. Let's go to the document itself:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

To me that reads more like freedom of religion rather than freedom from religion.

Cue the sensitivity argument...

(I'm a militant agnostic, I couldn't care less if the holiday decorations include a giant Buddha wearing a yarmulke while sacrificing a chicken)

NO. NO. NO.

There will be no discussion of the ten commandments and the constitution here.

Can't we all just get along??

I actually WAS going to start a longwinded constitutional discussion, but will defer to the wiser counsel of my gracious host. Thank you for stopping that before it'd barely started, Michele.

Even though I'm an agnostic barely-practicing Jew, Christmas has never bothered me in the slightest. In fact, growing up, we always had a Christmas tree as well as the menorah. It's as much a cultural holiday as a religious one.

You go, girl. The world needs more people like you and your acolytes because you give people like me a little more optimism that common sense ain't dead. Speaking of dead, here now that Santa thing.

He's political.

Yep, Santa, nee St. Nicholas, was absorbed into the Christian ritual centuries ago to co-opt non-believers. Same with the Christmas tree, which was a germanic pagan symbol of the winter solstice. St. Nick was the patron saint of thieves until Thomas Nast, the 19th Century political cartoonist, turned him into Everyman's symbol of diabetes, heart disease and knee problems who hired the short, beat his pets and broke into a phenomenal number of houses each Dec. 24.

As for the lights, I remember the energy crisis in 1972 when there were no Christmas lights. It sucked. But probably thanks to Ralph Lauren, everyone switched to white lights, and there you have it.

Here's an idea for self-important cranks: here in Wanamassa, NJ, we throw a bad gift exchange after Christmas. Rewrap your worst gift, bring it. DO NOT put your name on it. Take someone else's junk. The party evolves into sordid and hopefully drunken speculating on what that relative thought of you when they gave you the plaster Elvis bust.

You can sue me now for damages to come.

Dave J has it exactly right. Even for most self-described Christians, Christmas is an entirely secular occasion.

And Faith, I can understand the argument against nativity scenes (even if I disagree), but if you object to entirely non-religious displays such as Santa then I think it is a short path to objecting to any official notice of the holiday whatsoever, including the white lights. Is it still acceptable for a nominally Christian observance to be regocnized by a stat holiday, or should we all be working Dec 25th as well?

I find joy in all the trappings of Christmas, even as a Jew - there's nothing quite like the wonderful winter rituals, passed down from Dickens to our generation.

I just don't want them promoted by my government and paid for by my tax dollars. Fair enough?

Outstanding blog post, Michelle..it's a great time of year. It's all the Robert Smith-o-philes of the world like to make it their aim in life to bum-out everyone else..i say let them rot in their misery while we're chowin' down on our Christmas cookies..

Happy Season of Official Cheer!(thank you James Lileks)

Screw the 'tasteful white lights', I found those old kind, the kind my dad put up when I was a kid, big colored ceramic bulbs that he got sometime in the '60s. I'm gonna get my granfather's old wooden decorations and HOLLY garland and wreaths. My house is gonna look like sometthing outta 'A Christmas Story'.

Oh, yeah, I liked the skinny Elvis, before he had a bust.

I think Dave J got it right for an entirely different reason.
Christmas is as much a cultural holiday as a religious one, and I'll bet that a deeper investigation of those who complain and try to block Christmas displays are also the same ones who toil ceaselessly for "multiculturalism", i.e., "the only bad culture in the world is US culture".

Well put Michelle. But... "Bah Humbug".

Christmass is great, but I want 12 days of Halloween, dammit! At a minimum! Wah! ;]

On the other hand... that fat guy gives me an opportunity to do my last minute deer hunting every year as he sails in towards the chimney, so he's not a total waste.

The following is passed on with permission from Quackgrass Press:

‘Tis the season!

'Tis the season to be snowed under by trite pieces about the meaning of Christmas. I’ll try not to be too trite, but here are some thoughts on the meaning of Christmas. As an added bonus, I’ll reveal the true meaning of “merry!” 

Why a feast in the dark of the year? 

Four days past the solstice, the sun is low, and soon sets. Night is long, and light is brief. Fields are bare, and roads are icy. Wind keens ‘round the eaves. Yet at Christmas we are past the solstice. Sunlight will strengthen day by day. Warmth and light will grow. The turning back of the sun foretells spring and new beginnings. 

For now, we can defeat winter’s numbing cold with a cheering blaze. We can dispel nature’s gloom with human brightness. We can mock the sterility of winter by feasting on the fruits of summer. 

It’s a great time for a party! 

Christmas is materialistic. 

It is usual to denounce the materialism which is said to have degraded Christmas. News Flash! Christmas always was “materialistic.” (Crummy word, but we seem to be stuck with it.) 

What would Christmas be without material values? What would it be without presents to delight the soul, without food to warm the heart, without drink to cheer the spirit? What would it be without wreaths and trees, without bright colored lights; without the music of instruments? It sure wouldn’t be Christmas! Material goods are essential to Christmas. That is, wealth is essential to Christmas. 

This explains the appeal of Ebenezer Scrooge. Thrifty, hard-working Scrooge is a symbol of wealth. He gives Christmas joys a visible means of support. They need one. Warm sentiments with no visible means of support are enough to wring a “Bah! Humbug!” from almost anyone. Like men with no visible means of support, their honesty is suspect. 

Wealth makes Christmas possible; Scrooge helps to make it respectable. 

Christmas is not merely materialistic. 

No one would willingly celebrate Christmas alone. Christmas celebrates friendships and families, love and good will. Christmas is for shared joy. Friends and colleagues rejoice in each other’s company. Families delight in the sparkling eyes of children opening their presents. We extend cheery greetings to utter strangers. 

It is trite to say that Christmas involves taking joy in the joy of others. 

But it can be rescued from triteness by drawing a logical conclusion. The secondary joy taken in the joy of others depends radically on the primary joy of those “others,” and you are one of those “others!” Your own enjoyment is fundamental. 

Your joy is essential to Christmas! So enjoy! 

The fundamental obligation of those who wish to keep Christmas well is to have a great time! 

Christmas is not a religious celebration. 

We hear that Christmas celebrates the Birth of Christ, the Mystery of the Incarnation. This is plausible at first blush (There’s a strong hint in the name!). But Christmas is older than Christianity. Christianity is certainly the latest religion to bless this season, but there were others. 

In Rome, the god Saturn presided over Saturnalia, December 17 to 23. People exchanged presents and feasted. Later, the honors were claimed by Mithras, Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, born on December 25th. Does any of this sound familiar? 

Christ’s birth is certainly celebrated at this season, but Christmas leaps religious boundaries. A friend once received a card inscribed, “Merry Christmas, from a Muslim to an atheist.” 

A festival which endures while religions come and go is not a religious celebration. A festival which outlasts the religions which hallow it, must have deeper roots. 

What are the deeper roots? 

The timing of Christmas celebrates man’s power to create values. While nature is at its darkest and coldest, we celebrate amid light and warmth which we ourselves provide. While nature is barren, we feast. 

The much-bemoaned materialism of Christmas celebrates man’s wealth. Man (Of course this includes women!) is a material being who lives by material values. Wealth is for the sake of man’s well-being. Christmas celebrates man’s well-being, his enjoyment of life. 

In short, Christmas celebrates man. That’s why, like man, it endures while religions come and go. That’s why it leaps all boundaries between men. That’s why Christmas is truly the season of good will toward men! 

And that is why it is best celebrated by egoists! Who better than those who put human values at the center of their lives? 

What is the true meaning of “merry?” 

Talk of deeper meanings may make Christmas seem a solemn occasion, but by Saturn!, Christmas is anything but solemn! 

So re-discover the meaning of “merry.” It once had a very definite, specific meaning which has been all but lost, a meaning which goes wonderfully well with Christmas. Nowadays, “merry” has been eroded away to a mere synonym of “glad.” 

To express the historical meaning of “merry” we have only such substitutes as the frivolous “slightly tipsy” or the chilling “mildly intoxicated.” Perhaps “merry” was allowed to slip away because it lacked a formal definition. Maybe such a definition could save the word. In this hope I offer the following. 

“Merry” is the vigorous sense of well-being of a cheerful man after downing a few potent drinks in good company. 

Those who do not drink may be happy, cheerful and even jolly, but alas, they fall short of merry. At most, we can wish them a happy Christmas or a jolly Christmas, and hope the merriment around them proves infectious. 

The rest of us need not make do with substitutes. So sip your single malt Scotch, or your ancient cognac. Relish your luscious port. Fortify your creamy eggnog. Warm yourself with hot buttered rum. 
 
Have a truly Merry Christmas!

I love the holiday season, too. Just ask my fiancee...who feels like I do. Live tree, decorations, lights, stockings, candles, egg nog, etc. And now that I've lived in Alaska for five years, I get white Christmas', to boot. (The South sucked in that regard)

However, I'm an evil, atheist, federal employee... ;) ...and I agree that religion-related displays or activities shouldn't be sponsored by the agency...or appear to be so. Not that I get wrapped around the axle about it, though. It's just my opinion. As far as I'm concerned, the holidays are for everyone and any displays/activities that the agency sponsors shouldn't be specific to a particular group.

This doesn't mean I'm opposed to any religious displays in the government workplace. If employees want to put nativities or menorahs in their cubicles, I'm not bothered or offended in the least by them exercising their rights to do so.

The only drawback to the season, of course, is finding the perfect gift for my fiancee. She's a shop-a-holic like I am so when there's something she likes, she usually winds up buying it at some point...which leaves me in a lurch. If I buy a gift that she hasn't already bought for herself, there's always the risk that she might buy it before Christmas day.

Ah well...'tis the season.

Well written Michele.

Some legit Christians have the same problem with their fellow angry "Christians" who give the whole collective bunch a bad name by stewing in their own basements and writing letters complaining about things like that the 10 commandments aren't posted or monumentalized everywhere and that TV doesn't show the Waltons enough and on and on...

It's nice to have a free country and all, but every once in awhile (like at Christmas or Thanksgiving or something) it would be nice if all politics went aside and people just took a break and enjoyed the season in their own way.

But maybe that isn't possible anymore--if it ever was.

Matt, court mandates as you call them are the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Consitution and are as much the law of the land as the Consitution or any Statute. You knew this though, right?

And to all of you hating lights, fine, but to me that's a celebratory festive item that DOES NOT HAVE A RELGIOUS IMPLICATION.

To anyone who thinks Christmas isn't a religious holiday, really all I can say is fuck you, you should only know what it's like to be of a minority religion in this country.

Michele, I'm really sorry. Truly.

Count me in as another atheist who loves Christmas and takes no offense at a Creche.

Individuals who happen to work for the government (or use public property, such as schools) should not be prohibited from showing their joy and delight with symbols. As long as the school or government office doesn't pay for the decorations out of the public coffers, I think everyone else should mind their own damn business.

The Constitution strictly FORBIDS the denial of such. It must remain IMPARTIAL, not impartial-against.

If you are offended by another's display of their religion or religious symbols, avert your eyes.

"To anyone who thinks Christmas isn't a religious holiday, really all I can say is fuck you, you should only know what it's like to be of a minority religion in this country." - FAITH

I'm a traditional Cherokee by beliefs, and dedicatedly anti-deistic. That minority enough?

Christmass is a religious, and a secular, and a cultural holiday. And a commercial holiday. I don't choose to find any of those offensive. It is a choice.

I happen to enjoy Christmass: I like the decorations, the pagentry, presents under the tree, Santas, It's a Wonderful Life in reruns... and I don't really see those things as offensive or oppressive to my spiritual beliefs. I even enjoy the commercialism to a limited extent: it makes a nice break from all the beer and whine commercials and football crap.

It would be offensive and oppressive for me to demand that Michelle, Mrs. du toit, or Nathan to give up their enjoyment of Christmass and the season just because I felt an imagined slight to my non-Christian beliefs. Not to mention it'd be pretty damned anti-libertarian, which would go against the core of all my beliefs.

I can always choose to not celebrate, if I wish. And, personally, I don't demand a right to "not be offended".

Speaking as a Christian: Thank you, Michele. Great post, but I do have one little nit-pick.

"I hardly think that a piece of plastic that represents Mary and Joseph, a few animals and a baby will turn your children into Catholics overnight. We aren't talking Jack Chick here."

Umm, Jack Chick can't do that either...

That's all. ;)

I guess I'll throw in my two cents here. For the record, I'm a life-long agnostic.

Overtly religious displays deployed temporarily on public property are probably unconstitutional, technically speaking. However, Christmas is this country is a largely secular holiday. My view is that people have a right to petition their congressman and file lawsuits over the issue, but like Michele, I wish they wouldn't.

There is less religious persecution in this country than pretty much anywhere else on the planet. I don't think it makes sense to fight the majority on every little issue. If you go ballistic over a small manger scene in the town square at Christmas, in my opinion you're detracting from the really serious issues where there is a meaningful conflict to be fought with religious conservatives - like abortion. Plus, there's a lot to be said for having a period during the year where everyone can just relax and stop fighting for a short while.

Simply being right doesn't always mean that it's a good idea to pick a fight.

I'm also an atheist, although my parents are Episcopalians. I've always loved Christmas, and always will; it's a nice time of year, even if I usually do have to suffer through a church service to please my mother. :)

I do have some sympathy for folks who want to ban religious holiday displays, though. A lot of atheists had religion (usually Christianity, in this country) forcibly crammed down their throats for many, many years. Christianity, all weasel words aside, does deliver the message that non-believers are morally inferior to Christians, and in many cases actually incapable of being good or loving people. It is therefore understandable that these people would view a Nativity scene outside of Town Hall with some degree of hostility. It is, after all, implicit government endorsement of a religion there's plenty of reason to dislike.

It's also worth noting that many of the lawsuits demanding the removal of things like Nativity scenese come from Jews and Moslems, and not just from atheists.

Michele, if people are going to keep bringing up constitutional arguments here, I may have to go back on my word and have at them. But you said not to, and I don't want to be rude like cough Some People. ;-)

Not that any of you knows me, or cares what I think, but I gotta back up Faith here. Every single year I start this season thinking, "OK, not going to let it get to me this time..." and by the first or second week in December, I'm a raving lunatic, pontificating about all the ways in which I've been grievously wronged. Even I hate me by then.

But the truth is, there's only one holiday in this season that's in your face 24/7. And it ain't Chanukah, and it ain't Kwanzaa. And after a while, it starts to grate on me. What am I, a Jew, supposed to do when my employer gives me a freaking Christmas ornament as a 'holiday gift'? What am I supposed to do when my daughter's PUBLIC school has Santa come to her kindergarten classroom to hear what the kids want for Christmas? What do I do when she hands me a holiday gift she made at school, then bursts into tears as I open this beautiful litle hand-made ornament of a CHRISTMAS TREE, because she's afraid I'm going to hate it since I've told her many times why we don't have Christmas trees in our home? I get angry. And I think I have a right.

Like I said, I tend to go overboard. At least once a year I'll proclaim that I would actually prefer to work on Christmas--which isn't 'my' holiday--so that I could have one of the big Jewish holidays off without having to take a personal day. Even I know that's silly. (Well, the wanting to work on Christmas is silly. The wanting not to have to take vacation or personal time to observe Rosh Hashana or Passover isn't. Makes me homicidal, actually.)

Oh, and that Santa-has-nothing-to-do-with-Christmas thing is the most ridiculous crap I've ever heard. I'll buy that many Christians don't SEE Santa as religious. But if you're on the outside looking in, there's no other interpretation. Simple test: If some white-bearded guy came down your chimney on December 14 or December 27, or January 30, any other day of the year besides December 24/25? Breaking and entering, my friends.

as a fellow atheist, my only complaint with Christmas is that they start the "season" even before Halloween is over.

shoot, last weekend, a local station went all Christmas, 24/7 for three days. two weeks before Thanksgiving. assholes.

Michele, if we can't fight over the Constitution, can we at least have a fight between those cheerful, good-hearted people who know that Christmas lights must be multi-colored in celebration of the multifaceted joys of the season, and those sleet-souled, glassy-eyed, yuppie automatons who think that Christmas lights must be white because they are "tasteful"? INFIDELS! DOGS! May all of your rainbows be black! May your newspaper run out of colored ink while printing your Sunday funnies---52 weeks in a row! May all the colors on your M&Ms melt in your hand, not in your mouth!

I am putting the finishing touches on the December issue of the magazine I am the editor of. Today, the publisher called me to remind me not to put any holiday artwork in the paper, because two years ago, the former editor put a sprig of mistletoe clip art on the front cover, and a bunch of subscribers caused a flame war. Over. A. Fucking. Tiny. Green. Piece. of Holly.

I'm an agnostic myself, but I'm busting my ass to put out a good holiday issue, but I can't do anything to overtly point out that it's a holiday issue. Do people really have THAT much time on their hands to complain about stuff like that?

and those sleet-souled, glassy-eyed, yuppie automatons who think that Christmas lights must be white because they are "tasteful"? INFIDELS

Angie, you may be tacky and crass all on your own property. Just leave government property out of it.

Others (Faith in particular) have pretty much made my point, but I want to point out that the people who argue that Christmas isn't a religious holiday are almost exclusively Christians, or lapsed Christians. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc, consider Christmas to be religious. (That priceless Simpsons line - "Lisa, Christmas is the time when people from all religions gather together to worship Jesus Christ" - comes to mind.") I'm also unmoved by the trend toward replacing mentions of Christmas to neutral mentions of The Holiday Season. Chanukah's really benefitted from the juxtaposition, but any Jew will tell you that Chanukah is one of the least- if not THE least - important of the Jewish holidays. Christian acquaintances don't wish me Good Holidays around Rosh Hashanah or Passover, which are more important than Chanukah.

Also, Michele - there's a big difference between people who don't want Christmas decorations on public property, and dumbasses who shell out thousands of dollars to tell people who celebrate Christmas just how much they suck. I'm in the former category, and don't have much patience for those in the latter.

Cheer up people, Michele is right. As to those who think that they are being put upon and considered lessor by those enjoying the season...

Hell, go get drunk, get laid, eat yourself sick and quite being such a wet blanket. I don't care how you celebrate your few days off but let me and all those who spread goodwill and cheer enjoy our holidays, whatever we call them.

mutters to himself and sends some more money to ebay

Alfredo, a "lessor" is a person leasing property. "Lesser" is the word you're looking for. And the point is exactly that. I don't feel lesser because I'm not Christian. And I don't see what getting drunk and laid has to do with expecting that my government won't appear to endorse a religion that isn't mine.

Do think before you speak. It helps so very much.

Parliament under control of the Puritans, June 1647 -
For as much as the feast of the nativity of Christ, Easter, and other festivals, commonly called holy days, have been here-to-fore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained that the said feasts, and all other festivals, commonly called holy days, be no longer observed as festivals.
1652 -
Resolved by the Parliament: That no observation shall be had of the five and twentieth day of December commonly called Christmas-Day; nor any solemnity used or exercised in churches upon the day in respect thereof
This is not the same as not permitting religious displays on government property. Still, it's another example of how close the far left can get to the far right.

Ok, I'm sort of a Christopagan. My wife is Wiccan. We celebrate Christmas because we love Christmas. We could get all religious about it and call it Yule and make it a proper pagan ritual and tree and yule log and banish Santa and his Elves and the Christmas Child - but to do so would be to cheat ourselves of things we honor from our childhoods.

Besides, we are paganish enough to be unafraid of fun. (Although we are old enough to prefer our fun on the quiet end of the spectrum these days, and to not involve trudging through snow....)

I'm most annoyed with the dour sorts of religious sorts who look on any evidence of fun or merrymaking as Satan's Doing. Anyone who would steal a child's joy in the name of their brand of pie in the sky should be crotchkicked, IMHO.

Indeed, any system of belief that steals your sense of humor, causes you to piss on the harmless fun of others and generally behave as a self-righteous ass should be treated as any other sort of socially obnoxious behavior - it's no worse than the constant flatulence of militant vegans, but no more enjoyable or likely to keep you in good odor with your neighbors.

I would also say that any religion with ANY relevance to people as they are and their real world concerns HAS to recognize and celebrate Christmas - it's one of the four great times of the year, celebrated by every religion of note, not because they are inherently religious, but because it's "keep up or be left behind."

Dude, it's a Celebration. Read your history, the Church did not invent it, they were dragged into it kicking, screaming and in a mad theological scramble to "christianize it."

Failed miserably of course - that's why it's still fun! It's a Pagan mishmash of all sorts of traditions and stuff people just made up. Because it was fun. Santa is fun. Never mind that he's the unholy confabulation of Thomas Nast and Coke, he's the presiding figure of Christmas. Deal. :)

HOW you celebrate it depends on what it means - but this season, it is cold, it is dark, and a great lean time has been had. But that time has passed, it's time to celebrate living through another winter and it's time to make babies for spring. Woohoo!

Wrap it as you wish - there it is. Gifting, feasting and making babies.

What better thing to celebrate than the beginnings of a new cycle, the making of new life, the promise of the coming spring and - not the least, the rewards of a winter well spent in productive toil?

OF COURSE it's religious, and I only find that offensive if it's an attempt to convert me from one to another. It shows a complete misunderstanding of the whole concept!

It's a time of sharing and merrymaking and fun. It's a time to show off gauds and pretties, to dance and share your best, not to annoy one another. By all means, share. Don't preach. Preaching is Not Fun, and anyone who dares needs to be pelted with snowballs until they relent or retreat in to the dark and cold.

But by all means - throw open your church, your sanctuary, your synagogue, your grove and make a Joyful noise unto Whomever May Be Concerned. Any preaching should be in the realm pro-forma, you know, so it can be claimed as a non-taxable occasion! :^)

I grew up High-Church Episcopal, and we know how to do it right! It was singing all the great old songs with a great choir (often several, from different churches taking turns, because we had the best damn organ in town). We wore our best clothes, the priest's vestments cost a freaking fortune and could blind you, everything was covered in cloth of gold and the church ladies worked themselves to exaustion to make it shine and then bury the whole place in pine boughs, mistletoe and poinsettea.

It was a true high mass, which is thrilling and magical - it was a gigantic feast of a "snack" to fortify you for the day of eating ahead - it was..... >this is the point hereg

damn damn damn!!!

.....FUN!

Thanks for the vocabulary lesson, Faith. I am still going to enjoy my Christmas holiday even if I have to drag this M-16 and combat load around(actually, I will be dragging this M-16 and combat load around). Sheesh, cheer up! Things could be alot worse, YOU could be dragging an M-16 and combat load around.

Dang webgear chaffs my neck(if I misspelled anything, too bad, I don't carry a dictionary around in my truck and the computer I use to blog with has no spell check)

Pthbbbbbbbb!