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Was there ever a more eye-roll inducing concept than the absurd purported "war on Christmas"?
If you haven't been too bored to pay attention, you may know that the idea, propagated by certain religious and conservative factions, is that the effort to be inclusive -- by saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," by reining in the relentless Christian imagery and music, by neglecting our Shopping Duties -- somehow constitutes a "war": on Christmas, and by extension, on family values, decency, and all that.
I thought it was one of those things that if you ignored it it would just go away. But the counter-attack has been strong. There's more religious music than ever, and to my amazement, people have started to seem like they get a weird kick out of saying "Merry Christmas" -- like this is some kind of dangerous and subversive act. Oooh, political incorrectness!
So I'm annoyed by that. But the truth is, I'm also kind of annoyed by Christmas itself. I'm one of those atheists who was always happy to go along with decorated trees, presents, friends, food, and drinks -- all excellent things in their way. But Christmas is out of control.
Shopping and gift buying are especially out of control. Presents make sense for kids, and maybe in certain circumstances for adults. But the idea that you should go on a massive shopping spree guessing at what all the other adults in your life would like -- how could that fail to produce piles of expensive, unwanted garbage? Just thinking about all that stuff cluttering up people's homes and then getting shipped off to landfills gives me the horrors.
Stores are opening Thanksgiving night; workers are there from midnight to early morning; The New York Times actually had a whole news story about whether "the Saturday before Christmas" was the 17th or the 24th. People, if you were looking for signs of the materialism apocalypse, well, here they are.
So let's kill two birds with one stone: let's make the war on Christmas a reality.
Maybe you're thinking, "War? Isn't that going a bit far?" Who is this lunatic? Is there really someone so grouchy and curmudgeonly that they'd actually prefer Christmas not to exist? What about ginger cookies? What about the star on top of the tree? Won't somebody think of the children?
You know, it's not the Christmas spirit I'm against. It's the Christmas crap. The great thing about Thanksgiving as a holiday is that, because it's based on a universal and secular human concept -- that of gratitude -- it's inclusive, flexible, and non-materialistic.
So I'd like to see Christmas -- Sorry. I'd like to see a late-Winter holiday -- based on something like that. As for that universal human concept, why not take a page from Christmas's playbook, and make it joy?
Instead of religion and shopping, we could do Joyful Things, like making snowmen, flying kites, and playing music.
Now doesn't that sound nice?