It is Christmas Eve, and I have almost lived through this year’s annual greatest of holidays. At midnight, Christmas will begin, and twenty-four hours later it will end. It will be over! But not yet. At this writing, the world is shutting down in anticipation. The 24 Hour Kroger closed at 6:00 pm. Gas stations are closing. People are smiling. Even NRP is playing Xmas music.
Lots of people are in church. Children are nestling to greater or lesser degrees of snugness in their beds awaiting, or fearing, the coming of Santa, an anagram for Satan. Lots of people are getting drunk, and lots are getting laid.
Santa Clause is coming to town. Not a very good modern role model actually. Overweight; labor laws scoffer; animal rights ignorer; and—believe it with horror—a smoker!
Some folks will die in car crashes from negligence and some will die by their own hands from, inter alia, pills, or pistols, unable to deal with what they experience as the depression and loneliness of the day. And it will be observed how awful it was for this to happen on Christmas. How dare they stain the wonder and magic of Christmas with their blood?
After the ripping of the packages, some fine meals will be consumed and much booze will be ingested.
I plan to have a wonderful time visiting with my children and grandchildren and having a splendid dinner. But, by present custom, I will neither give nor receive Christmas presents. I make up for this character flaw by being extra generous on birthdays.
Tomorrow at midnight the whole show will stop as if someone flipped some mighty cosmic switch somewhere. The Christmas decorations will still be up, but people will cease compulsively smiling at one other, stores will reopen, and celebrants of the season will start forgetting just what they got for Christmas. Relatives who can’t stand each other can quit pretending again. Some children will be delighted, others will be sad, and some will feel sold out. Some adult humans will already be arguing about the holiday bills that will soon arrive. Some of these spats will lead to divorce. A general fatigue and let down will occur as many expectations have been dashed and both adults and children will be drained.
Stupid discussions and invective about “self proclaimed” nonexistent “new atheists” and their imaginary “War on Christmas” can be put on hold for another year.
Many atheists love Christmas. And that is just fine. Christmas can, in paradox ally, be either religious or secular, or both. But most people don’t know this. They actually think that mistletoe and holly and Baby Jesus and astrologers and shepherds and mangers and flying reindeer and hewed down trees and Yule logs and feasting and drinking and all of the other heterogeneous trappings of the great day are all somehow compatible with each other.
Atheists can enjoy a perfectly secular Christmas and totally ignore the son of god superstitious part.
One neat way some atheists deal with the event is to celebrate the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton. It is on December 25. Some atheists have a tree in their home with fig newtons hanging from it and gifts for each other under it. A lot of people around Newton’s time, who were not born on December 25, are listed as having been born on December 25. This could well be because the religious constabulary of the day had made it unlawful to celebrate Christmas. No kidding. But, if one’s birthday was on December 25, it was perfectly legal to have a big birthday celebration. Get it? So these good people simply lied in church birth records to give them lawful cause to have a Christmas celebration that was called, if the authorities asked, a birthday party, for say Isaac Newton, certainly not for Jesus. Is is now seemingly impossible to know for sure if Sir Isaac was really actually for real born on that date or not. It doesn’t really matter.
So, the end is near.
On to New Year’s Eve!
December 24, 2011
© 2011 by Edwin Kagin.