Everyone has their personal traditions around the holidays. For some, it might be a particular food, and I'm sure everyone out there has their own "secret family whatever" that they enjoy. It could be a particular activity, a post-Thanksgiving game of touch or what have you. For me, for the past few years, that tradition has been to expound on the moronic display of pundits and citizens about the war on Christmas. I'm not going to do that this year.
For those of you blissfully unaware of the war on Christmas, allow me to explain in base terms. It is when certain (not all) Christians feel that with the inclusion of other religious and ethnic holidays into the winter season -- which is apparently owned by Jesus -- Christmas, and therefore all of Christianity is being attacked. This is comparable to Frito Lays making a new flavor of Doritos, and being considered racist against Cool Ranch.
Regardless, there are some facts on the situation that need to be brought into light. Most importantly, the fact that it is always beneficial to one's cause to make their beliefs feel persecuted. This is not exclusive to Christians. Muslims do it, Jews do it, blacks in America do it, atheists do it, Captain Planet did it, Al Gore and George W., fat people and skinny people, so on and so forth. The fact is, we all feel bad for ourselves at some point in our lives. Don't misunderstand this philosophy with the "poor me's" though. This is not a "woe" mindset; it is one of danger.
Nothing rallies the troops harder and more efficiently than to make them to believe they are in danger -- their lives, their beliefs, their families, properties, etc.. If you want to create an atmosphere of change, you must first eliminate the atmosphere of stability and peace. "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator," Adolf Hitler once said, "by defending myself against the Jew." The sad fact is that this statement has been restated so many times in so many ways by so many people. The call to defense of holy justice and innocent lives, whether imagined or real, is one that few of us can ignore. What's even sadder than that is that it occurs even today, in our country, by more than one group of people. The saddest fact of them all is that I, too, am guilty of this baseless and cowardly form of rhetoric.
I could argue that in America today, atheists are one of -- if not the most -- disrespected "religious" minority, and that Christians have the least to worry about in terms of being "persecuted" in this country. I could argue that point very ardently, and have done so in the past, in fact, but someone from a different viewpoint could very easily make a case for the opposite. The only things that we would have in common at that point would be our complete inability and unwillingness to listen to what the other person had to say, and our crime of attempting to incite the masses by frightening them with boogeymen. I stand by that word, too: Crime. It is a crime.
And that is why I'll be keeping my thoughts of disgust on the war on Christmas to myself this year. But that's not enough is it? This year, I won't complain.
Like I said, typically at this time every year, I will pen the frustration and indignation I feel at being an atheist during the holidays. Yes, I was wished "Merry Christmas" a whole lot more than I was wished "Happy Holidays" (which happened once, by the way). Yes, even those who know me relatively well still neglect to recall that I don't celebrate. And a thousand other reasons why I feel "persecuted" this time of year. But you know what? I'm gonna let it slide.
Gun to my head, I'm much happier to live in a country where the cashier at Fred Meyer wishes me a "Merry Christmas" instead of one where statements like that wouldn't be allowed. Gun to my head, I'm glad that people are allowed to celebrate their holiday of choice or not at all. Gun to my head, there's not any guns to my head or anyone else's head for that matter, and that's more than some people can say at this time of year. So stop thinking you deserve more than you have, because none of us do.
Enjoy your December 25th, everyone, whatever it may mean to you. I'll be here, at the computer, working, and watching the snow fall outside my window.