Once upon a time, Christmas was non-controversial. It wasn't always such, of course: John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (not Istanbul), had a difficult time selling the premise, let alone a formal date for it, and after the Reformation, Protestant groups, notably the Puritans, took exception to the holiday, deeming it possibly pagan, and worse, definitely Catholic. That said, if you're an American of a certain age, you probably have a very distinct image in the back of your head, part Norman Rockwell, part Thomas Kinkade, and you wonder why these ... these people get so upset about things.

The answer, of course, is that we hadn't seen organized opposition in our lifetimes, and therefore we don't have a clue as to how to react. The Jews didn't take part, but they had their own ritual in reverse: they'd fetch Chinese takeout and then go to the movies. There have always been atheists, but there were places that would persecute them, so they tended to keep quiet about the whole thing. Muslims? They were halfway around the world, and we didn't particularly have to care which half.

But that was then, and this is now, and now we're involved in trivia at the level of "Is Santa white?" I swear, that was the cover story of The Week this week. (Short answer: St. Nicholas was Greek, therefore perhaps a tad swarthier than average, but inasmuch as he died in 343, his melanin levels are pretty much irrelevant. And hey, I'm the guy who thinks Morgan Freeman ought to play Lincoln just once; God knows he has the gravitas.) "Inclusiveness" is the order of the day, though I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be invited to play any of their reindeer games, for certain values of "they."

But I'm not that concerned about it, really. I mean, I did dummy up a "Keep Kwan in Kwanzaa" picture which never came close to going viral, but I really didn't expect it to. And neither of my mops is really suitable for use as a Festivus pole. (Then again: this is Vent #850. I am obviously well-versed, or at least experienced, in the fine art of grievance-airing.) Nor do I particularly want to pick a fight with the atheists, and most of them, I suspect, have no overwhelming desire to dump on me: there's that whole business about appearing non-judgmental. (There is, of course, That Other Kind.) Truth be told, I'd rather deal with atheists than with the weird sort of ostensible Christian who pays lip service to the faith as a concomitant of holding public office: at least the nonbelievers have a vague idea what they don't, and sometimes do, believe.

Besides, I figure the Nativity story in Luke's gospel is utterly incomprehensible to later generations, inasmuch as neither wise men nor virgins are allowed to exist in contemporary culture. And that whole business about original sin, the reason why there was a Nativity in the first place, is routinely ignored by those who believe — and legislate — that man can too be made perfect, given the correct stimuli. (Who knew that George Orwell was in the textbook business?) I maintain a somewhat bifurcated stance with regard to these folks: I am always willing to consider the possibility that I might be wrong, but there isn't a chance in hell that they're right.

So you can mark me down in favor of the fun, old-fashioned family Christmas, even if I'm alone, which I am this year. (And just whose idea was it to slap this holiday on a Wednesday, fercrissake?) And if you don't like it, you're a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with an over-the-counter pain reliever.

The Vent

  25 December 2013

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