Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Or, if you prefer, Happy Holidays! I don't care. It's entirely up to you.

But I do celebrate Christmas. Here in America, Christmas is a secular holiday. For many Americans, of course, it's also a religious holiday, but that's their business, not mine.

I understand that, if you believe in some other religion - or if your family traditions are simply different from mine - you might not celebrate Christmas. Certainly, Christians do their damnedest to make the holiday all about them (something we atheists need to resist, I'd say).

But I'm always glad to wish my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah. (Whether that's actually appropriate, I don't know, but I'm sure they all understand my good intentions.) I'm always willing to say Happy Winter Solstice or Happy Kwanza or... Happy Saturnalia, I guess.

But really, Happy Holidays pretty well covers it all, doesn't it? And obviously, when I say "Happy Holidays," I don't mean to exclude Christians. Of course not! Pull that stick out of your butt and understand that I'm just trying to wish you well.

Of course, the vast majority of Christians understand that. It's only the professional Christians, the right-wing Christians on talk radio and Fox "News," who seem to have a problem with Happy Holidays. And in general, I think I'd prefer that their holidays be miserable, anyway. Heh, heh.

But I usually say "Merry Christmas." It is, after all, my holiday, too. It's a federal holiday here in America and, given our Constitution, that pretty much makes it secular by definition. And as you know, Christians didn't invent the holiday. They just changed the name.

The church tried to capture an existing holiday for its own exclusive use. But Christmas has been struggling towards freedom for many years. Santa Claus, snowmen, lighted trees, elves, eggnog, candles, flying reindeer, candy canes, mistletoe, Jingle Bells - there's very little about Christmas these days that's not secular.

But if it's a religious holiday for you, no problem. Merry Christmas. You can believe whatever you want. We may need to agree to disagree, but so what? I wish you well, whatever I might think about your belief.

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