Fairly recently, my fellow SINner Staks posted some reasons not to love Christmas. While I wholeheartedly agree with much of what he wrote, especially the bit about hearing the same damned music every year, I’m going to try to play the Santa to his Grinch, and provide a few counterpoints in favor of the holiday season. I don’t necessarily expect to persuade anyone here, these are just some of the things I personally happen to enjoy about the holiday season.
- Seasonal cartoon parodies – What better way to desacralize the season that with a full-frontal assault of animated satire? Here are a few suggestions to help you start a new Yuletide tradition at home:
- South Park: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson!, Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics,A Very Crappy Christmas, Red Sleigh Down, It’s Christmas in Canada, Woodland Critter Christmas
- Futurama: Xmas Story, A Tale of Two Santas, The Futurama Holiday Spectacular
- Family Guy: A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas, Road to the North Pole, Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Of course, if your partner or spouse is remotely squeamish, you may not be able to get away with showing these to the children, especially the one with the woodland critters performing a ritual Satanic Blood Orgy. Better stick to the Simpsons instead.
- Family gatherings – People on atheist forums are always complaining about these, for some reason, but I really enjoy them. Possibly, this is because after all this time we’ve pretty much figured out which topics to avoid, for the sake of familial unity and general well-being. Now that I’ve said that, who knows what will happen this year? Thanksgiving went unusually smoothly, for whatever that is worth.
- Seasonal greetings – I love saying “Happy Solstice!” to strangers. As often as not, it opens a can of worms, but the odds are good that I am more willing and well-prepared to discuss the historicity of the Nativity than they are. Seriously, this is a great way to get total strangers talking about their faith, and it only comes once a year.Whatever your preferred seasonal greeting might be, though, I’m going to do my best to be friendly about it. Here is a graphical guide:
- War on Christmas – The annual freakouts over at Fox News are just priceless, the comedic takedowns even more so. It’s become a meta-tradition for some Christians to whine about how being barred from using public property to support their faith is somehow a form of reverse religious oppression, but this too can be seen as an opportunity to educate. My friend Paul Loebe has a short post up explaining more-or-less exactly what I try to tell these Christians, when explaining that this isn’t about anyone’s religious freedom or their feelings, it is about upholding the historical constitutional principle of disestablishment.
- Gift giving – Ok, yes, it is an economically inefficient process to buy gifts for people, but I don’t care. So long as the kids are bright-eyed and adorable on Christmas morning, they are going to be happily surprised. Once they turn into surly teenagers, the wife and I may have to take Waldfogel’s scroogenomical arguments more seriously. Of course, this inevitably raises the awkward question of what to do about Santa. For my part, I don’t lie to my own children about it, but I also don’t tell them the truth straightaway. When the firstborn figured it out on his own, we had a productive talk about why many cultures train children to believe in mythical figures who can see everything and mete out rewards or punishments accordingly, and he made a number of interesting connections on his own.
- Snow days – We all know that axial tilt is the real reason for the season, and with that comes the joys of cavorting about in the snow, if you are so fortunate as to live far enough north of the equator.
What my takeaway from all this? Enjoy the season, in whatever way you can. As the days grow shorter, strive to bring a little more human light into the world.