Christmas is finally almost here. And we can finally start decorating the house, bake some cookies, visit with family and friends and spread good cheer to all.
My appreciation for Christmas has been a roller coaster ride.
Growing up, Christmas meant presents, stocking, toys, and a big Turkey dinner. It meant bikes, batteries, putting toys together and blinky lights.
We usually found our presents before hand, so the surprise was usually a lesson in Academy-Award-winning acting.
Hell, my brother is the absolute WORST secret keeper. So when he learned Santa wasn’t real at age 7 (I was 5), guess what the first words out of his mouth were Christmas morning as my foot hit the last step and I hadn’t even seen the Christmas tree or presents yet?
“Santa’s not real.”
I was so emotionally distraught. I was 10 parts excited and 100 parts destroyed by the idea my parents, friends and family lied to me for five years of my life.
I remember lying in bed — before learning that dreadful news — on Christmas eve staring at the ceiling waiting for hoofs to prance across our roof. I stared out the window at the moon hoping for Santa to silhouette against the moon.
Perhaps this early awakening to the truth of parents teaching kids about fictional characters planted the seed that helped me drop religion.
Christmas for us was about the presents. And as much as we wanted to think it was about Jesus, our saviors’ birth, it was about the loot and the bragging rights when we got back to school from the Winter break.
I went through a “I hate Christmas” phase in my 20s and early 30s. I’m still not a huge fan. I find it to be an egregiously non-religious religious holiday. You know, it’s the way of the church. There’s unconditional love with conditions. There is all-knowing savior who still needs us to let him know what’s up with prayers, requests and adulation.
Time at home with family meant large levels of stress. It’s still stressful, but I work through that stress with an unhealthily healthy amount of alcohol and repetitions of affirmations.
But I like Christmas again. I like it because it means the days are going to start getting longer. I like it, because it’s time to get some needed respite from an otherwise busy schedule.
I wish there wasn’t a “War on Christmas.” I wish people took accountability for their own attitudes for the holiday. And if someone says “Happy Holidays,” wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
This morning, I read a piece from Dan Savage about his response to Sarah Palin’s book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
And while I loved the writing and how he logically throws down on stupid-ass Sarah Palin, it perpetuates an ugliness. I mean, regardless of how convoluted Sarah Palin’s views are on the mythological “war on Christmas,” we can’t go around expecting it to get better if we keep bashing the hell out of her.
I liked this part in particular:
1. Who holds Christmas in contempt? Who? Where are these people? I’m a secular humanist—there’s an award from the Freedom from Religion Foundation on my mantel just inches from my Christmas tree—and here I am, at home on a Saturday morning, baking Christmas cookies for my family. Not holiday cookies. Christmas cookies. I’ll be taking some across the street to share with my Jewish neighbors later today. They love Christmas. And no one is trying to “save” Christmas from its heritage. We have a crèche for the baby Jesus and strings of lights for the Roman god Saturn. We honor Christmas’s religious heritage—the Christian and non-Christian bits.
But maybe Palin is asking for the ridicule and directed attacks. If we’re to believe that she begins the book talking about how she bought a gun for Todd in the wake of the anti-gun crazy that happened, well, let me let Savage write it:
Page 5: Here I learn something I didn’t know and, if I were Sarah Palin, something I wouldn’t want anyone to know. But Sarah hustles this fact to the front of the book because she sure as hell wants us to know it: Sarah surprised Todd with a “nice, needed, powerful gun” for Christmas in 2012. It was a “small act of civil disobedience,” Palin writes, prompted by “the anti-gun chatter coming from Washington.”
What was inspiring that anti-gun chatter in Washington in December of 2012? Oh, right: Twenty children and six teachers were shot dead in their classrooms by a deranged asshole with a “powerful gun.” And before the grieving mothers and fathers of Newtown, Connecticut, could put their dead children in the ground, Sarah Palin ran out gun shopping. Buying Todd a gun in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was “fun,” Palin writes—and, again, an act of “civil disobedience.” Because gun nuts are a persecuted minority.
Crazier thing: my family LOVES Palin.
Sarah Palin, that deranged, megalomaniac with absolutely no fucking clue as to what this country is all about, diversity, freedom of speech, freedom of life, love and happiness.
Freedom that we all get to enjoy, including her, Dan Savage, you and me.
We all get to love or hate Christmas. We don’t all have to have the same views of every fucking idea that you hold sacred.
If you’re racist, I can have the view that you suck. If you think women’s rights to vote are what’s wrong in America, I get to have the view that you’re an asshole. If you love guns and shout it from the rooftops, I get to respond. And vice versa.
Freedom of speech includes my freedom to respond.
Freedom to celebrate Christmas is another person’s freedom to not celebrate.
Me? I love Christmas. I’m all for keeping the “Christ” in Christmas. And I hope you do, too. He’s not my savior. He’s not my idea of a cool guy. But if he’s yours, get on it. Love it. Own it. And when you get criticized, bask in the glory that you win in heaven.