William A. Hainline: Reality Engineer

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Ho Ho Ho . . . Or Bah Humbug? I Choose "Ho Ho Ho."

Christmas and I have a strange relationship. It’s not that I don’t love Christmastime — I sincerely do — it’s that I’m an atheist. And Christmas is the most religious of religious-y holidays, not counting Easter. I mean, Christmas is the nerve center of the Christian calendar. It’s in the name, for crying out loud. So it’s a tricky river to navigate, socially at Christmastime. My family are all Christians, except for me. So I always have to watch what I say, and who I say it to. I don’t want to offend anyone, or start any fights. And I definitely don’t want to spoil the mood . . . Because I think Christmastime, even though it’s based around a religious figure I don’t necessarily believe in, is a good thing. People are nicer to each other, people give money to charities, people give each other gifts, people put up pretty lights and decorations, sing beautiful songs, gather closer together as families, act nicer to strangers, and all in all, promote a warmth and kindness to one another that isn’t seen the rest of the year. Of course, many of them do this because they are motivated by their faith as Christians to do so; their belief in the salvation offered to them by Jesus Christ, his forgiveness for their sins, and His kindness, is what prompts them to act in kind. And y’know what? I’m okay with that. See, I don’t want to convert anybody. I’m not one of those atheists who thinks Christmas should be outlawed, or who thinks that Christians need to change who they are or what they believe. I have what I believe, what I think I know; they have what they believe, and what they think they know. And as far as I’m concerned, there it ends. (The difficulty comes in when somebody tries to tell me, or someone I care about, how to live their life or behave, or talk, or act; or what place they can have in society because of who or what they are; then it’s on . . . then, it is on.) But really, I don’t care if Christmas is a religious holiday. I celebrate it anyway. Because it’s done so much good for the world. And that’s what really matters. The question is not, “Is Christmas bad or good because it is a religious holiday?” No. The question is, “Does Christmas serve a positive and useful function in our society? Does it do good?” And I believe the answer to that question is, undoubtedly, “Yes.” Yes it does. It’s a terrific time of year and it’s healthy, fun, and good for everyone (and hey, it’s good business, too). And it’s beautiful, it really is. I guess you could say it’s a “miracle” that we have it, if you’ll forgive my flirting with the maudlin and the tongue-in-cheekiness of that.. So I will most definitely celebrate it with my friends and family who are Christians. And if anybody wants to get their nose bent out of shape about that, well, let them. It’s no skin off mine. I love Christmas time. And especially Christmas movies, and presents, and candy. And the food, and the warm fires, and the togetherness. I am not going to “Bah! Humbug!” anyone or anything, ever, if it’s doing some good in this world, bringing joy to someone or something. Merry Christmas, everyone. I may not say “God bless us, everyone,” but I will say that we have in Christmas a time to treasure, each of us.

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