I am not, as some of you may have had the teensiest of inklings, a Christian, nor Muslim, nor Jew. I am a sort of generalized agnostic under most circumstances, unless there's an aggravating religious type in the room, whereupon I become a really devout atheist out of sheer contrariness. (The "room" in this case includes virtual rooms, forums, and a ten mile radius around my body in any direction, including up.) I suspect I'm not alone in this quality.
I do not, however, get bent wildly out of shape if somebody says "Merry Christmas" to me. I do not feel that this is shoving religion down my throat. I also don't particularly care if there are angels topping trees (although there's a rubber chicken topping the one at my parent's place.) Nor do I mind menorahs or whatever the hell they do for Kwanzaa. If I get a card that says "Seasons Greetings" I do not wail. (For awhile I was addressing all my cards with "Merry Dies Natalis Solis Invicti!" that being the birth of the unconquered sun, celebrating the birth of the god Mithras, but god, that's a lot to write just to prove you're cool and obscure to people who don't remotely care.)
I am, if anything, an inclusionist. I figure it's the holiday season for practically everybody and we should shove EVERYTHING up the collective decorating rectum of mankind. You want Baby Jesus? Fine! Wonderful! I want Baby Mithras. Bring me a white bull calf without blemish! I want the Yule log and the Solstice chicken and the Kwanzaa something or other. I want a billboard celebrating Atheist Children Get Presents day and Father Christmas and Mommy New Year and Baby Boxing Day. Put it ALL up. Let us all wallow in tacky pseudo-religious excess!
I firmly believe that every single religion, and the total lack thereof, has the right to have cheapass plastic light-up crap that can be wedged in the front yard. It's Isaac Newton's birthday, that's a holiday I can get behind, let's make a plastic light-up Newton bearing presents. I draw the line at sacrificing a bull for Mithras, because I am squeamish and he's a very fraternal god and probably wouldn't appreciate women doin' that sorta thing,* but a plastic light up bull with strings of red Christmas lights wrapped tightly around its throat and spilling in gory streamers onto the lawn strikes me as fabulous. Bring it all!
See, I can see the arguments for Freedom FROM religion pretty easily. I think they're valid. But I also think that in the long run, we're better served by making religions commonplace and comprehensible and Not Scary. People wouldn't live in terror of Islam if they had Mohammed waving in a stately fashion from the neighbor's lawn (perhaps with animatronic mountain-moving action.) Those wacky pagans become a lot less alarming when you find out just how many of them are raving flakes who want you to call them "Moonvegetable" and have baked you carob cookies.** (Yes, yes, there are good sane pagans out there. I was a pagan once, I get to make fun of them.) The ideal of those damn godless atheists bent on bringing down the establishment with their secular humanist horrors will have a hard time holding up when you're both commiserating about how you shopped for hours for the kids and they play with the damn bubble wrap instead.
I think we should dump it all in together, take it to stupidly tacky excess, and realize that, as the man said, "We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull." Then we can all bitch about how the holidays don't mean what they used to, and all get the history of our holiday completely and totally wrong, and we'll be unified in a glorious morass of holiday angst.
Because if we can't freakin' make fun of Christmas, what good is it?
Thank you. That is all.
*Despite this, I still have a fondness for Mithras. It's like cats, I expect. They love the people who hate them the most.
**Okay, carob cookies should be banned. I'll get behind that.