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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Which Ghost of Christmas?

When did Christmas become so mean? I look at what is passing for holiday humor this year, and I do not understand it.

Let me begin here with a disclaimer. I am not Christian; I have never been Christian, and I cannot foresee a time in the future when I will become Christian. When people look puzzled and say, “but you celebrate Christmas,” I answer, “But only in its most commercial sense.” I am not extolling the power of the dollar but explaining that Christmas, even -- or perhaps especially--without God or Santa Clause, is a time of pure celebration, untainted by faith or reason. It’s a time when you can bake and decorate and give for the pure joy of it. So if I’m dismayed by what’s going on, why aren’t believers rioting?

Here’s what’s got me shaking my head. I was meandering around a store, and noticed two packages of Christmas napkins. One said, “All I want for Christmas is a drink,” the other, “Saw it, Wanted it, Got it.” There have always been humorous takes on Christmas.   Have they always been this cynical? Not that I recall.

Then there’s the new crop of TV ads. Have you seen the one where a young man comes home for the holidays? As he enters the house, his older parents sneak away through the back door and zoom off in their car saying happily, “He’ll be okay.” This is funny? Really?

There’s the anti-Santa one that displays people buying fancy electronics for their loved ones. They lay in wait for Santa’s arrival Christmas night for the sole purpose of proving their gifts are better. As he fills their stockings with darling gifts, the people sneer at him, “Bring it on, Santa!” What is this, the Ghost of Christmas Scorn? Is it now de rigueur to be snotty to Santa?!

So I hope you’ll forgive me if we sit home on Christmas Eve with a cup of eggnog, a cheery fire and a couple of brightly wrapped presents under our agnostic tree knowing they are exchanged with love if not with the latest of what passes for wit.

I’m a little puzzled, though. I can’t figure out if I’m too much of a curmudgeon to celebrate with the rest of the country or not enough of one.


  1. Excellent post! I've seen the Santa Claus ad. Alas, I can believe the need to one-up one's neighbors and friends because I see it done so often. But it's reached such a point now that even Santa is considered a competitor? Ugh. I can't go there.

    Merry Christmas, and may your yule log burn long and brightly.