I should fucking hate Christmas. I’m an anti-capitalistic, deity-denying, tradition-questing, cynical, scoffing, scrooge, fucking jackass. Yet, for some reason, the Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the songs, the snow, and the giving and receiving. I love the smell of evergreen trees and the glow of Christmas lights. I love the taste of hot chocolate spiked with Peppermint Schnapps. I love The Santa Clause, Prancer, Home Alone 2, and all the other Christmas movies playing round the clock on every other channel.
And although there are some things that I hate about Christmas, I think that, when it’s done right, Christmas is a beautiful thing. When it truly embodies the ideas of sharing, giving, loving, and being together, Christmas is a holiday that is good for the spirit and good for humanity in general.
Many people view Christmas as a birthday bash for Jesus, but it is certainly not a religious holiday for all. Even for many Christian families, Christmas celebrations often have very little religious relevance outside of pre-dinner prayer and the hour-and-change spent at church. Certainly there’s nothing Christian about a flying fucking reindeer or getting blackout drunk at your grandma’s house. Christmas, or at least what Christmas has become here in the States, is pretty damn secular–something celebrated by Christians but certainly not owned by them.
Nor do Christians have a monopoly on the “Christmas Spirit”–the spirit of “giving to” and “giving back” that can make Christmas such a spiritually enriching time of the year. “Giving to” can devolve into senseless commercialism–buying useless, manufactured junk for people who don’t want or need it–but it can also be an exchange of thoughtful gifts that make one another happy. What is more, “giving back” is almost always a mutually beneficial endeavor, fulfilling the spirits of those partaking in the giving of gifts, goods, time, and self, and more importantly, fulfilling the needs of those people and households often skipped by Santa’s sleigh.
Which is why I, as a multicultural advocate and militant atheist, have no problem with the well-intentioned wishing of a “Merry Christmas,” be it by store sign or stranger. I think that people who use it as a bratty retaliation to those wishing them a “Happy Holiday,” or as some sort of verbal ammunition in their war on the “War on Christmas,” are ignorant, jingoist pricks, but I also think that those who take offense to such a well-wishing, particularly holier-than-thou white liberals like myself, are sanctimonious douchebags. Yes, the United States is a multicultural society, but it’s still okay to have federal holidays. Whether you choose to celebrate Christmas or not, the well-intentioned wishing of a “Merry Christmas” should be no more offensive that a “Happy Halloween” or a “Have a nice day.” I’m hardly Mexican, but I never took offense to a hearty “Feliz fill-in-the-blank” during my many months living south of the border. On the contrary, it helped me to feel less alienated and more welcomed.
Because when it’s done right, the holiday of Christmas should not be offensive nor uninclusive. When stripped of its religious zealotry and materialistic fervor, Christmas brings out the best in humanity—our ability to live, to laugh, to love, to give…Christmas is a time to be thankful for what we have, to make those that we care about feel happy and loved, to not work and to be oh so appreciative of those who must, and to think about, feel for, and serve those less fortunate than we are.
That’s why I love Christmas. After a tumultuous year filled with so much hate, violence, and divisiveness, Christmas gives us an opportunity to close out the year on a positive note–to come together and remind each other of all the good that still exists in the world, and the hope that remains for humanity to get its collective shit together. So Merry Fucking Christmas, everybody. Be good, do good, make people smile, and may you have many more merry Christmases to come.
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And with that being said…