Seasons’ Greetings

I have a question: When exactly did “The Holidays” become a season?

In addition to spring, summer, autumn and winter, we now have the so-called Holiday Season, which, unlike the other four, has no fixed duration. It generally ends around New Year’s Day, but the starting date of this superimposed season is another matter. Creeping ever earlier in the calendar, it now commences around Halloween (which also starts earlier than it used to). This year, I saw an illuminated, artificial Christmas tree in a restaurant on November 16th – a week and a half before Thanksgiving!

Have our modern lives become so drab and unexciting that we have to cheer ourselves up with faux evergreen boughs and flashing electric lights, in anticipation of a holiday that is still many weeks away? Apparently so.

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Years ago, there was a house in my neighborhood which marked the holidays and seasons in a unique way. The elderly people who lived there owned a wondrous assortment of string lights, which they mounted in their windows. They had a set of lights for almost every holiday and season on the calendar: bottle rockets in red, white and blue for July 4th; snowflakes for winter; American flags for Veteran’s Day; Santas and reindeer for Christmas; four-leaf clovers, autumn leaves, little bunnies and Easter eggs, jack o’lanterns, hearts pierced by arrows … I could go on, but you get the idea.

Not only did they have lights for every occasion, they were careful about timing. Smiling pumpkins and little black cats went up a couple of weeks before October 31st. Then, a week or so later, they would be replaced by turkeys and pilgrim hats. Christmas-themed lights never went up before the first of December, which I thought showed admirable restraint.

Although I no longer live in the neighborhood, I happened to drive past the house a couple of days ago. Like so much of the rest of that part of Denver, the house is being gutted and renovated.

Perhaps the previous owners died or were sent to a “rest home.” I hope their collection of seasonal lighting wasn’t just thrown out. I would’ve liked to have known, if there’d been an estate sale. I would’ve picked up a set or two, just for the sake of the memories they would induce.

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Don’t worry – I’m not going to start waxing nostalgic about the golden autumns of yesteryear, nor will I complain about hearing “White Christmas” prior to Thanksgiving. Though I could.

Instead, I’m going to talk about war. Not a real war, but the fake war some elements of society think is being waged against Christmas.

I know many of our fellow citizens believe religion – specifically, the Protestant Christian variety – should have a prominent, central place in society; by which, they mean “everywhere, all the time.” By and large, they’re the same people who think there’s a war against Christmas in America. They must be a pretty thin-skinned lot, given the recent brouhaha about the plain red cups being used by Starbucks coffee shops during The Holiday Season this year.

From what I can tell, the Christmas Defenders – CD’s for short – think their way of life is threatened by socialists, secular humanists, radical homosexuals, and the Democratic Party. They claim that a War on Christmas is being waged by these godless sorts, who are trying to destroy Christianity, and maybe replace it with Sharia Law.

If there is a war being conducted against the Baby Jesus and his entourage, with the intent of eradicating all the crèches and crosses and “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” signs woven into The Holiday Season, the anti-Jesus faction must be pretty incompetent, because every year, like clockwork, America is inundated by Christmas carols, tons of Chinese-made schlock, discount sales, fake snowflakes, and ho-ho-ho’s ad nauseum.

If the CD’s would stop complaining long enough to take a good look around, they’d see that they’re winning. Or at least, they aren’t losing.

Being a secular humanist, and a Democrat, I think the so-called War on Christmas is nothing more than a chimera called forth by crass, self-serving politicians and sanctimonious scolds. In a quest for votes or television ratings, they denounce a non-existent movement, calling it an assault on Judeo-ChristianValues and The American Way of Life.

Nevertheless, I do think there’s a war on Christmas; just not the one Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump like to talk about.

The merging of autumn and winter festivities into a single Holiday Season is a direct product of a war whose only objective is parting as many dollars as possible from as many people as possible. The weapons deployed to accomplish this are desire and guilt, coupled with nostalgia and credit cards.

For those who say Jesus is the “reason for the season”, it’s good to remember that Christmas is a pagan, mid-winter celebration that was co-opted by the Catholic Church. Yule logs, fir trees, and the like were all part of winter solstice festivities among German and Scandinavian tribal groups, and revelry and gift-giving were part of the winter celebration of Saturnalia, long before Jesus was born.

Given the multi-front corporate attack on our collective wallets that occupies almost a quarter of the year, why is the excuse for that attack a celebration of the birth of a Middle Eastern socialist whose parents were refugees? If you look at the distinctly un-Christ-like behaviors of many of the self-avowed followers of Jesus, and the Black Friday mentality that increasingly pervades The Holiday Season, doesn’t it make more sense to rededicate December 25th in honor of Mammon, who, depending on the source, was a deity or a devil, and was the embodiment of the worshiping of money and possessions?

We could rename the day Mammonmas, or perhaps Mmas for short. At midnight on Mmas Eve, we would go to mega-churches where the Prosperity Gospel is preached, light golden candles, and put 25% of our annual income in the collection plate (Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal accepted!). Then, when it came time for communion, people would line up to receive their Mmas blessings, in the form of a new Xbox 360, or a 110” Ultra-HD flat screen TV, or a fantasy holiday in an undisclosed location (either Hell or Walmart, whichever is closer).

I keep hoping for push-back against pro-Mammon behemoths like Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, and all the rest. Not because I want time to reflect on the Baby Jesus. No, I want to stop being made to feel guilty because I haven’t bought a $50 gift certificate to Olive Garden or The Golden Corral for Aunt Myrtle. Never mind that we haven’t spoken in over ten years. Do I want to jeopardize my chances of getting into Heaven by overlooking the old girl?

And what about all those people in your office, most of whose names you couldn’t recall if your life depended on it? Do you want them to think badly of you?

One last thing: While you may not want to spend $350 on gifts for your six-year-old son, do you really want to consign him to years of therapy because you inadequately expressed your love for him when he was a mere defenseless lad?

I thought not. Now get out there and buy something! And remember: If you don’t spend at least $1,500 on Mmas gifts this year, ISIS wins.

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