Just about anyone who knows me knows I'm a devoted Atheist. I don't buy the whole God thing and, in fact, find it pretty silly and sometimes downright pathetic. I'm not shy about letting people know that - usually, I hope, with at least as much good cheer and intentions as the people who let me know how gosh-darn right and important their belief in God is.
Whatever Bill O'Reilly may believe, though, I'm not a Christmas hater. I like a lot of the traditions. I like the Christmas trees and lights. I like some of the songs the first 5 times I hear them each year. I get misty eyed at just about every version of A Christmas Carol - even, perhaps especially, the Mr. Magoo one. And I love that wonderful artery-clogging yuletide drink. Yes, I may be an Atheist most of the year, but come December I lean toward Eggnogsticism.
Not only don't I hate Santa Claus, for the past couple years I've put on the big red suit and mustered up my Santa-tude to portray the jolly fellow and distribute toys to kids in a homeless shelter on behalf of a local NYC charity. Not to overstate my saintly qualities - I got roped into it by a friend. But it was fun and moving both times. And not once did I whisper in a six-year-old's ear "Pssst, kid, I'm really a Jew in a $50 costume."
Obviously I'm not alone in being an avowed secular American with a soft spot for Christmas. Last year's party for the kids was in a space donated by the Society for Ethical Culture, perhaps the oldest major secular organization in the country. Here's a surreal scene: Me, Atheist Jew extraordinaire, sweating my bells off for an hour and a half in the tiny, airless library/storage closet of the Society waiting to make my big entrance into the party room. I'm in an undershirt with my beard and Santa top off reading the treasure trove of papers and books of Felix Adler, the founder of the Society, and Robert Ingersoll, the Great Agnostic as he was known when he was the most popular orator of the late 1800's. So don't tell me I hate Christmas.
It's not just Atheists like me who are, at core, Eggnogstic about Christmas. I'll bet a lot of Christians are as well. Christmas for most people I've known isn't really about the miraculous birth of the Baby Jesus to a woman who was a virgin. (Do they really buy that crap?) Most American Christians are really celebrating the festive trappings of the holiday they love, and sometimes love-to-hate. Besides, we pretty much know that December 25th is an arbitrary day having to do with existing pagan holidays, not a historically accurate anniversary of Jesus' birth. The thought as I understand it was, hey, Pagans, as long as you're partying around an evergreen, here's something new to party about. You don't even have to sober up. As a marketing ploy, it worked like a charm.
Which brings us back to Bill O'Reilly and his War On The War On Christmas (WOTWOC). He seems to feel that Christmas just isn't getting enough coverage. First question, have you been out lately Bill? Or turned on the tv? Moving past his obliviousness, however, the Faloofah King's argument seems to be more of an Eggnogstic one. He's not arguing that Christmas isn't holy enough or is becoming too commercialized; he's arguing that it isn't commercial enough. Not enough stores use Christmas sufficiently in their seasonal marketing efforts. Not enough of the greeting cards sold say Merry Christmas. Too many say Happy Holidays to include Hanukah, New Year's, Kwanzaa, and more secular celebrations. Those inclusive bastards!
It's not the commercialization of Christmas that bothers Bill and there's certainly no law keeping Bill from sending Christmas cards or even life-size manger scenes to his friends and family, whatever their beliefs. Although, as many have pointed out, he strangely sells "Holiday" not Christmas items on his official website. Hmmm.
So WOTWOC is it exactly that's bothering him? I guess that America just isn't rubbing Christmas in the face of non-Christian Americans enough. That's too bad. Because now, rather than getting through the season in good spirit and letting the Christians and Pagans have their fun, joining in as much or as little as I care to, now I have to stand up to your bullying and fight the mighty Christ Mass beast itself.
If you were to ask me what's the best thing about Christmas, I might say the eggnog or the decorations or that it's a good excuse to be with family. If you were to ask me what's the best thing about Christianity I could tell you that in a second since it has such scarce competition; the Golden Rule. As originally written it was "Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you."
Well, Bill. Christmas is already the biggest holiday of the year. How about not ramming your religion further down my throat because you would not like it done unto you were you in my shoes. Wouldn't that be the Christian thing to do? Based on what we've seen from Christians over the past 1700 religion-ramming years, apparently not.