‘Tis the Season

“Christmas time is here.  Happiness and cheer.  Fun for all. That children call. They’re favorite time of year.”

It’s my favorite time of year, too.  I love the music and the displays.  I own nearly 30 Christmas movies.  Two years ago, my wife and I hosted a “Jammy Jam” where we invited two other couples to spend the night at our house in our Christmas pajamas.  We ate, we gave gifts, we played a drinking game with the movie “A Year Without a Santa Claus.”  Yes, I was 38 at the time.  And I wasn’t the oldest person there.  So shut up.

But it also puts us smack-dab in the middle of another war.  Yep, the “War on Christmas”  {Cue scary music}.  Take a look:

Merry Christas bumper sticker waronchristmasbookfoxwari_support_war_on_christmas_sticker-re842a47bca9942ec9f293d0d619ff3c0_v9waf_8byvr_324

Like the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” you’ll hear “War on Christmas” so much you’ll want to go out on Black Friday and club Kirk Cameron to death to get a TV three inches bigger than yours at half the price.  After all, Jesus is the “reason for the season.”  We need to keep “Christ in Christmas.”

Let’s just put the credit cards down, and step away from the $50 Xbox.  Think about this rationally before we go stampeding into a Best Buy at 5am.  No, Virginia, there is no “War on Christmas.”  Like the “war on women,” “war on religion.” and “war on the middle class,”  it’s just another way to wage war on a far more serious issue.  And just like jolly, old St. Nick avoids states with the “Castle Doctrine,” we avoid the real political conversation:  what religious freedom really means.

I’m an atheist.  Yet, I don’t care if you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy holidays!”  I’m too busy staring at the bright lights and shiny objects.  I celebrate Christmas, albeit by remembering the lives of Rankin and Bass instead of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  And if you’re one of those atheists who gets offended by “Merry Christmas,” a nativity scene, or a Christmas tree, you are just as bad as the people you claim take away your religious freedoms.

The same thing goes for those of you who believe there’s a “War on Christmas.”  If your boss tells you not to say “Merry Christmas,” it’s not infringing on your religious rights or freedom of speech.  Those are rights the government can’t take away.  Your employer can tell you what to say, and fire you if you don’t follow the rules.  Do your Jewish co-workers complain they don’t get time off for their holidays while our entire country celebrates the two biggest Christian ones, Christmas and Easter?  How would you feel if a Muslim co-worker received five breaks a day to pray?

No, you’re angry because people like me no longer make Christmas about religion.  For businesses, it’s about money and materialism.  For “Chreasters,” it’s a chance to let your church know you’re still a member.  For families like mine, it’s just a holiday, a time to get together, overeat, talk about all the wonderful and stupid memories we have, and discuss how it’s really a secret welfare program in which some old, fat, white guy uses hard-working stiffs to give free shit to the undeserving.

That’s what makes our country great.  Freedom of religion allows us to choose how we want to celebrate.  You can teach your children about the birth of Jesus Christ.  You can go to church. honor it as a season of giving, and spend time with those you love.  But I don’t have to.

That’s why the “War on Christmas” remains such a contentious debate.  Because, as an atheist, I feel the right to religious freedom in this country doesn’t mean believing in any religion you want.  It really means believing in any religion you want as long as you believe.  You hear it all the time.  People constantly say America is in decline because we have gone away from “good Christian values.”  I hear politicians talk about and defend their personal religious beliefs, as if going to church makes them more or less electable.  Over 16% of the country says they are unaffiliated with a specific religion, making it the fastest growing group.  4% say they are agnostic or atheist.  And yet, we will probably never elect a president with those beliefs in my lifetime.  I see states pass laws banning gay marriage and marijuana based on personal religious beliefs and not personal freedom.  As a former member of the news media, I never understood why we care so much about the Pope when only 24% of the country is Catholic, or about Israel with a Jewish population under 2%.  I hear people call our President the “antichrist” or “devil” just because his views differ from theirs.  And I can’t help but think, “Is that what you think of me?”

Please remember that before you complain about your child’s “holiday” program at school while camping out in the Wal-Mart parking lot Thanksgiving night.  Otherwise, we may need to start talking about keeping the “Han in Hanukkah.”






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