There’s a furious argument going on between Tom Flynn, who hates Christmas and thinks no right-minded atheist should have any truck with a religious holiday, and Beth Presswood, a confirmed atheist who loves the Christmas holiday. I agree with Flynn that the day is thoroughly tainted with ongoing religious garbage, but I also agree with Presswood that the season is in the process of being totally secularized, and that we ought as atheists to keep up the pressure to strip away the superstition and reconstruct the day to serve our completely human needs.
I write as a person living in the far north of our country, in a place that is bitterly cold and dark this time of year, where the snow doesn’t go away until March or April. I’m also a teacher, and for historical reasons that no longer have any religious meaning, our school year is split into two intense 4 month long instructional periods, where the work builds until it reaches a culmination in painful make-or-break finals…and we need this interim break to both recover and prepare for next term’s onslaught. Also for historical reasons, this midwinter break is nearly universal all across the country, so it’s actually a common time for families to get together.
So I don’t even get Flynn’s point. For me, it’s already a secular holiday with a secular rationale and justification — to tell me to not celebrate Christmas is absurd. I’m just going to do the same thing I do every year: sleep in, feed the zebrafish and the cat, relax and read a book, watch a movie, have a nice dinner, phone the family to hear what’s new, and just generally take it easy. There isn’t a speck of church anywhere in my agenda. What exactly am I supposed to stop doing to end my servitude to religious tradition? Starve the pets? Go to work? Don’t enjoy myself?
I’m going to side with Beth Presswood. I plan on loafing about secularly next year, too.