Well, it’s that season again. You know which one: the one that’s always a bit awkward for us nonbelievers.
Actually, I really have no problem with Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and whatever other holidays that annually more or less coincide with the big Christian one. But here are some of the things that do bug me:
- People who say they’re offended by being wished Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Hell, how am I supposed to know what someone’s religion is? “Happy Holidays” seem sort of the polite way to say that I don’t know what you believe, but want you to have a good time whatever it may be.
- Christmas wreaths on the front of cars. Jeez, do they look stupid.
- All those automobile commercials with Santa running around, ogling the latest models (of cars, silly).
- And while on the subject of Santa, I think he’s creepy. Here’s a guy kids are told to believe in, who spies on them all year long, knows they’re every move, and holds the threat of no toys over them if he dislikes what they’ve been doing. Sounds like the NSA to me, except that the NSA is real.
- Trying to make Chanukah into Jewish Christmas. OK, I understand why this happened. Jewish kids need a holiday to create parity with their Christian friends. Only Chanukah doesn’t do that. It mostly comes off as cheap competition. And it doesn’t make kids feel an awful lot better hearing one cheesy Chanukah song amidst the crush of Christmas carols at the school’s annual “holiday” pageant. Arrrgh.
- Holiday music. Jeez, it’s frustrating to hear nothing but The Little Drummer Boy rump-a-pum—pumming on every station on the dial, in every shopping center, doctor’s office, and bank.
- Santa hats. (See auto wreaths, above).
- Selling, selling, selling. Christmas is no longer a religious holiday. It’s a marketing event. But then, no one really knows when (if?) Jesus was born, so I guess it doesn’t really matter, after all.
I’m not Afro-American. I’m Euro-American. But, honestly, I think Kwanzaa may just be the best of the categorical holidays. Its values are stated in clear principles that are humanistic and sensible, and it hasn’t been commercialized to the extent of Christmas and Chanukah. Even better, everyone knows it’s made up, so it’s not tied up with any obligatory religious mumbo-jumbo. Maulana (Ron) Karenga was truly onto something when he invented it, and though he took some flak when he did it back in the 1960s, time has shown that he really knew what he was doing, and it was good.
Finally, fortunately, there’s Festivus, the holiday for the rest-of-us. Secular and fun, it’s for everyone who squirms in December. So for those of you who dread being wished a Merry Christmas by the Salvation Army Bell Ringer outside your local supermarket, break out your Festivus poles, let the feats of strength begin, and start your once a year airing of grievances.
Happy Holidays, everyone!