A section of the lights on our tree is out. I tracked down the first unlit bulb in the chain, but replacing it didn’t help, so it would appear that there is an electrical fault and I’m not about to do electrical work on my vacation.
Our poor little tree, but isn't it pretty?
I am an atheist, and I have a Christmas tree. A hardcore, militant, New Atheist-style atheist, and I have a Christmas tree. We would have had a menorah this year, but we couldn’t quite find one that we liked. (We are both a quarter Jewish, and one of our roommates is a secular Jew, though he is also a nonbeliever as well.) Our tree, of course, doubles as a Yule bush, although the solstice has already come and gone as pagan holidays are wont to do. I have celebrated Kwanzaa with my stepmother’s family in years past, but it has never particularly felt like my holiday and I don’t think they celebrate it anymore. I have never celebrated Ramadan or Divali or Tet, and now doesn’t particularly seem like the time to start.
So (secular) Christmas and (secular) Hanukkah it is for us, plus all of the underlying pagan undertones that both entail. I suppose we celebrate Christmas because it was our dominant celebration growing up, and it is still the de facto standard celebration for most Americans. We celebrate Hanukkah to honor our Jewish heritage as much as we celebrate it to provide at least some kind of counterpoint to the relentless onslaught of Jesus and his minions. (Fun story: my partner manages the background music and on-hold music at his office, and his office manager told him to go wild on the music selection. He included a wide variety of Christmas music as well as a (very) few Hannukah songs. He’s gotten multiple complaints from customers about the Hannukah selections.)
So our tree has rainbow lights and two garlands – one red and green, one blue and white. We have at least one ornament hanging from every branch, properly distributed to make the tree perfect. Our tree topper in past years has been a Domokun nestled in the top branches, but we couldn’t find him after the move so we now have a light-up rainbow star. In short, our tree is perfect and beautiful and we love it. Under the tree are various presents; some in red and green wrapping, some in blue and white wrapping, and some in neon-colored shiny boxes that look like Chinese takeout containers because they are pretty. The presents are filled with candy and gelt to weigh them down.
We have pizza in the oven tonight. Tomorrow night, we will celebrate in true secular Jewish fashion by having dinner at a Chinese restaurant. We’re watching Love Actually now, which is one of my favorite Christmas movies. After that, we’re watching Team America: World Police in remembrance of Kim Jong-Il. And after that, we’re watching A Christmas Story, which actually is my favorite Christmas movie. At some point, we will go to bed, exhausted and tired, and give our cats some wet food and some milk (a rare treat) and tell them Santa Paws told us they were very nice kitties this year. And then in the morning, everyone in the apartment will open presents (including one super special one that’s going to prompt another post tomorrow!) and celebrate a year well-spent. We are nominally celebrating a religious holiday, but we’re doing so using a different religion’s symbols and a whole bunch of other entirely non-religious symbols. It warms my heart to see the proliferation of completely non-religious trees, from Cthulhu trees to Flying Spaghetti Monster trees to a particularly inspired Australian tree, all of which warm the cockles of my heart.
Which I suppose brings me to my point. The “War on Christmas” is total bullshit, because Christmas is without question the dominant holiday during this time of the year, and that’s not changing any time soon. But the very dominance that Christians want to protect is also a double-edged sword: Christmas is such a big part of the nation’s collective consciousness that everyone — even non-Christians — can celebrate the parts they want to and add in new parts whenever they feel like it. And the best part is that as our culture moves further and further away from widespread superstitious belief, and as Christmas eventually does lose its death-grip on the American psyche, the biddies and blowhards who refuse to keep up will continue to be more and more marginalized while the rest of us will continue to do whatever the hell makes us happy. And that will be a very Merry Christmas indeed.
EDITED TO ADD: I was just cruising Reddit and came across this: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/35kjhj/