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We Love Christmas...Now Let's Play Cards
2008.12.24 (Wed) 12:30
Who's waging the legendary and infamous War on Christmas?
It's a question we've always wanted to hear a legitimate answer to.
Presumably, it wouldn't be the Christians. Right? You know, since it celebrates the birth of their own personal superhero and all (whether or not they got it right).
Would it be Jews? Doubtful. They've got enough troubles of their own, and there are plenty of secular Jews who set up a Chanukah Bush to commemorate the occasion. The rest of the Jews are normally content to live and let live, or (in the case of some of the more fundy types) tend to completely ignore the silly habits of silly religions (as they're too busy indulging in the silly habits of their own silly religion).
How about pagans? After all, the holiday was ostensibly stolen from them (at least, the real ones, not the ones who play at being pagans since black turtlenecks passed out of style in the fifties). They've been celebrating the Winter Solstice since a few millennia before Jesus was born; the choice of a date for Christmas is just another in a long line of religious elements that Christianity "borrowed" from prior traditions. But those wacky pagans tend toward pacifism, and typically won't do much beyond snorting at Christian hubris over their Grande Half-Caf Mocha Lattes.
Hindus? Muslims? Shintoists? Scientologists? Who the fuck is waging the War on Christmas?
No...it couldn't be. Could it? Is it...
Bzzzzzzzzzzzt! No, sorry, thanks for playing. And that's where the Christians — by which, of course, we mean the scary bigoted ones — have gone off the fucking deep end yet again, because it's already gone far beyond fucking outrageously silly that the religious majority in this country feels the need to play the martyr every fucking winter. Then again, this is nothing new, and nothing unique — humans have a natural predilection to "root for the underdog," and even when we're on top, we like to paint a very different picture...a picture of our valiant struggle against insurmountable odds and the smirking faces of adversity and whichever group we feel is pissing us off. Just ask "mavericks" like John McCain.
It's no surprise when people pretend they're the Noble Hero fighting a Big Bad Villain. It's even less of a surprise when it turns out — as it so often does, in that nasty "real world" we all have to deal with — that they're actually the Big Bad Villain, after all. It's ingrained in our psyches, this admiration and profound respect we all feel towards the plucky rebel, whether he's a farmboy with untapped potential, or a scoundrel with a heart of gold. Ask seven out of ten Americans whether George Dubya Bush reminds them more of Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, and they'll point out that he hangs around an awful lot with Emperor Palpatine. Ask George himself, though, and he'll doubtless tell you his lightsaber doesn't run red.
But myth is myth, and reality is reality. And the reality is this: when so many members of your group hold so much goddamn power and authority over Western civilization, you can hardly cry "Oppression!" at the drop of a hat. And, let's face it, silly Christians, your tears are on a hair-trigger these days.
Are atheists trying to destroy Christmas? Well, we can't speak for all atheists, since we still steadfastly believe that "grouping" atheists is an exercise in futility comparable to mopping the ocean, but we'd have to offer a resounding "No," kids. If for no other reason than the simple retort: Why would we want to?
Seriously — we love Christmas. It's a nice break from a cold, dark winter; it's a nice breather as we head into a new year full of new possibilities (as arbitrary as our calendars may be on a cosmic scale, we're still as susceptible to civilized psychological conditioning as the next guy, and a new year does mean something on a visceral level). But best of all, Christmas is some "universal" time off, since the date has been recognized as a government (and therefore secular) holiday. That means we can get together with everybody we care about, friends and family and all the ones we love, and spend time together, eating, partying, playing, traveling, giving and receiving gifts, and just generally enjoying the heck out of the fact that we've got people whom we care a fuck of a lot about, who care a fuck of a lot about us. And as tiny monkey-type creatures on an insignificant speck in an out-of-the-way corner of a pretty gargantuan universe, what could really matter more than that?
We adore Christmas for what it is — this great time with great people — and we similarly adore the season for all the things it traditionally brings: beautifully decorated houses and trees, gifts wrapped in shiny paper and bows, mistletoe, stockings, and the ubiquitous incessantly grinning fat hobo in a red suit who haunts every shopping mall and television show. Is it crass and commercial? Sure; but it's also warm and comforting.
It just hasn't been a full year until we've watched the Grinch steal Christmas and Charlie Brown salvage it; until we've caught bits and pieces, all out of order, of the twenty-four hour A Christmas Story marathon; until we've drunk more egg nog and hot scotch than the Surgeon General would strictly approve of; until we've put colored lights everywhere an extension cord will reach; until we've loaded up the MP3 player with a hundred songs by Bing and Frank, Andy and Johnny (though honestly, who tells "scary ghost stories" on Christmas?), Ella Fitzgerald and Bobby Helms, Brenda Lee and Eartha Kitt, the Beach Boys, the Waitresses (come on, you know you listen to that one too), and, of course, the incredible Vince Guaraldi. (Just put the entire Peanuts Christmas album on repeat and melt into the perfection.) Hell, the Christmas season even marks the full-force return of Mallomars (the world's perfect cookie) to supermarket shelves.
If you haven't quite worked it out yet: we love Christmas.
So why the hell would we want to destroy it?
The simple fact is that we're not destroying Christmas, but we're doing something that the Christian bigots hate far, far worse: we're enjoying it. And that's just not fair, because they don't like to share. That would be too...well, "Christian" of them, ironically.
So what do they do? They try to take it back. You'll notice that reports of the "War on Christmas" are frequently followed by exhortations to somehow "take it back." Which is why you get blowhard assholes like Bill O'Reilly frothing up, making up lies to rally his moronic flock to the cause, and taking the opportunity to throw some more bullshit accusations at any non-believers. Because we eat babies and we strangle our grandmas and we're clearly out to stop Christmas.
Except we're not. All we want, just like the Christians, is to celebrate Christmas in our own way. Without all the silly mythology and praying and super-fairy-man stories that they think are necessary elements of the celebrations.
We have a simple analogy for what's happened here.
In essence, various ancient civilizations independently invented the deck of playing cards, and each created a game to go with it: Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Hearts, Whist, and so on.
The Christians took what they wanted from each game, and started playing Gin with their cards.
Modern, rational, sensible, secular folks looked at playing cards, and realized what a great game Texas Hold 'Em might be. And we started playing.
The Christians? They're pissed. And they say we can't play their game with their cards.
But it's out of their hands, because we're not playing the game they invented, and we're not playing with their cards. Like everybody, we're just playing a game we enjoy with the cards we've got.
And that's Christmas (and, in a way, life). They can pretend it's whatever they like — they can play Gin for eternity — as long as they leave us to our Poker. Which isn't a bad way to pass Christmas Eve, come to think of it.
So, most sincerely: however you celebrate Christmas, or even if you don't — enjoy the season. It's a great time to feel good about being a sentient, loving, caring being, surrounded by others with similar thoughts and feelings.
And, well, come on: Vince Guaraldi. You just can't beat that.
Merry Christmas, everybody! We'll see you in the New Year....
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[ Filed under: % Religion % Two Percent Company ]
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