Atheists Need Their Own Christmas
Long have atheists cried foul when plastic baby Jesus was placed in front of a courthouse, when public schools cultishly indoctrinated their children with choir songs about silent nights involving baby Jesus, when animated holiday specials suddenly transitioned into stories about the adorable baby Jesus and how three kings gave him expensive jewelry, and he turned milk to chocolate milk and started talking at 6 months instead of the usual 12 to 14 and tested well in placement evaluations, etc., and so forth. Atheists deserve a holiday free from problematic religious associations (or as atheists call it, Insidious Mind Poison), so I propose a new entirely atheist version of Christmas featuring similar traditions along with a few new ones.
It will be called Icy Hullabaloo. Icy Hullabaloo will be icy, not just because of the winter season, but because of its concern with cold stark reality and its adherence to rational laws. The hullabaloo, on the other hand, will result from the deafening cacophony of dozens of atheists’ self-righteous monologuing between bites of green bean casserole. Oh, the earsplitting din of their smug yapping will instill a quiet despair in the hearts of children, starting a tradition that will be passed down through the generations, like a virus, like a genetic predisposition for colon cancer.
There will be a Christmas tree, yes, but it will be called the Slowly Dying Conifer. Why the Slowly Dying Conifer? Well, the Slowly Dying Conifer serves to remind us of the terrible truth of our lives: we did not ask to be here, but here we are. Though we may put on a show, appear festive, bright, and full of life, we are in fact slowly dying in public. And when we do finally die, our accumulated ornaments and baubles are stripped from us, our bare corpses thrown out with the garbage — just another pile of lifeless organic matter, no different from the sticky gunk coating a microwave or the brown leaves frozen to the porch. There will be no pearly gates, no shining city; only a chemical transition to flakes of fertilizer.
As a vehicle for inculcating faith-based conceptions in children’s undeveloped brains, Santa Claus unfortunately can’t be a part of the Icy Hullabaloo canon. However, he’ll be replaced with Eternity, a grim-faced manifestation of the infinite dressed in black robes covered in stars. He stands in the corner of the child’s room on Hulaballoo Night, silently gazing at them from the moment they go to bed to the moment they wake up. When the child wakes, Eternity hands him/her a large, beautifully wrapped present. The child unwraps the present, opens the box, and reveals… there’s nothing inside. Quietly sobbing, the child looks up into the pale white face looming overhead, its reptilian eyes wide with portent.
“Do you see now?” asks Eternity. “DO YOU SEE?”
“Yes,” says the child. “I see.”
And then Eternity leaves the room, or, if the child’s been naughty, beats the child with a long gold stick called Existential Despair.
Stockings will be replaced with old ragged socks pinned over the fireplace. Overnight, each sock will be stuffed with a clean new replacement sock, reminding children of the cyclical nature of the universe. We ourselves are socks, gradually accumulating grime throughout our lives before giving birth to The New, the replacements for ourselves, our children.
The father ceremonially pulls the clean sock from the dirty one and presents it to the child. “I am the dirty sock,” says the father.
“And I am the clean sock,” answers the son.
“Yes…” says the father sadly, peering through the window at an approaching black storm cloud. “Yes, you are.”
Instead of the nativity scene on people’s front lawns, there would be statues of Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Philip Pullman gathered around a giant inflatable atom. Alternatively, one could decorate the lawn exactly as one would for Halloween (gravestones, monsters, but no ghosts of course — they are but hallucinations of diseased minds). Alternatively, one could decorate the lawn with the Hullabaloo Human Cow, a cow with the bowed head of a human, its expression frozen in sorrow. For after all, we are not superior beings engineered by a divine force; we are animals, beasts, no different from the cattle we slaughter so casually.
Atheist families will still gather on December 24 for a dinner called the Supper-cilious. The Supper-cilious will consist of children attempting to eat gross vegan cuisine while their parents shout at each other about how every terrible event is attributable to religion, recite Bill Maher monologues, and affirm their superior intelligence amidst the great ocean of American ignorance.
‘When I grow up, I’m going to believe Jesus coexisted with dinosaurs,’ the children will think to themselves as someone turns on the Icy Hullabaloo special, The Sunset Limited. ‘I’m going to believe in astrology and Xenu and Yahweh ben Yahweh, and then I’m going to run for Congress.’
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Will it feel the same when you tell me you love me over the phone? Will the peacefulness of those words still floor me from thousands of miles away?
I was conflicted. It felt like one eye was trying to look away while the other soaked it up. I felt the heat rise in my face. This was wrong. But it didn’t feel wrong.
Any nervous flyer knows the progression of descending panic: bile, sweaty palms, social awkwardness and self-induced sedation.
I know how it feels when the weight of darkness crashes down onto your chest in the middle of the night, and how you wish things would stop spinning because the axis seems tilted now. I know, love, I know.