Merry Christmas!

To all my secular readers in the western tradition, to all my Christian readers, and to anyone else who likes the greeting, I wish you the warmest Merry Christmas. To those who don’t appreciate the greeting, I remind you that Christmas, in the form it exists today, is a secular holiday. Christmas is a living museum of the good and wonderful in western civilization. (And a few things that aren’t so good and wonderful, but I’m trying to be merry in keeping with the season.) Whatever religious significance it may have once had is now diluted by the more universal values of family, sharing and love (plus some other stuff that isn’t so merry, like rapid consumerism and gift anxiety) and by a host of traditions that do not speak to the human incarnation of a god. So I shout, “Merry Christmas!”
George Skelton recalls his atheist wife’s affection for Christmas in “Christmas is for people of all faiths.” I may be a little more militant, a little less tolerant of government endorsement of specifically religious traditions, than was Nereida Skelton but I know exactly where she came from. Unlike her, I even like many of the bluntly religious Christmas carols. Many carols are wonderful monuments to human creativity.
Christmas isn’t my favorite secular holiday. That would be Thanksgiving, a celebration as free from obligations as a holiday can be. It never disappoints. But Christmas, even with its obligations, is great. Again I wish you and yours, “Merry Christmas!”

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