Well, just as newspapers reprint the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" piece every year, I'll start my own agnostic tradition and link back to my 2006 post, "An agnostic Taoist on Christmas Eve."
Not much has changed.
We're still heading to a vegetarian buffet at Salem's Marco Polo restaurant tomorrow. We're still irritated by Salvation Army bell ringers, Christmas music in stores, and the prevailing cultural sentiment that if you don't believe in Jesus, somehow you're impoverished during the holiday season.
That's ridiculous. We feel overwhelmingly grateful that unlike the vast majority of people in the world, we don't subscribe to religious fantasies that have caused an astounding amount of death and suffering over the millennia.
This morning I celebrated my non-Christian faith by re-reading part of Sam Harris' "The End of Faith." It made me ever so happy that I wouldn't be going to church tomorrow.
My purpose in this chapter has been to intimate, in as concise a manner as possible, some of the terrible consequences that have arisen, logically and inevitably, out of Christian faith. Unfortunately, this catalog of horrors could be elaborated on indefinitely.
Auschwitz, the Cathar heresy, the witch hunts – these phrases signify depths of human depravity and human suffering that would surely elude description were a writer to set himself no other task. As I have cast a very wide net in the present chapter, I can only urge readers who may feel they have driven past a roadside accident at full throttle to consult the literature on these subjects.
Such extracurricular studies will reveal that the history of Christianity is principally a story of mankind's misery and ignorance rather than of its requited love of God.
So we'll open presents tomorrow. And have many good thoughts in our minds. They just won't include any fantasies, such as the notion that a man born of a virgin died for our sins because his Father in Heaven demanded a sacrificial human lamb.
Good god. Civilization has progressed so far in the past two thousand years. And also, when it comes to religion, not an inch.
[Christmas day update: I love this well-written, light-hearted, thoughtful piece posted at Daily Kos, "A Dog at Christmas." It's right on both about dogs and how the holidays should be celebrated, if you don't accept the Christian dogma.
To wit, look at all the Christmas trappings -- mangers, trees, baby Jesus, lights, etc. -- as a dog would. As interesting sensory phenomena without added meaning.
Someone emailed me today, calling me an agnostic hypocrite for celebrating Christmas in the minimal fashion we do. I see his point, sort of. But I told him that I'm not celebrating anything religious when I give myself or someone else a present.
Similarly, I'm not celebrating the resurrection of Jesus when I eat a chocolate bunny at Easter. It's possible to go along with some cultural traditions without buying into the whole crazy religious scene. Freedom means being able to pick and choose, not be bound by "all or none."]