I will not attack your temple if you wish me a happy Christmas.
Some misty time ago, probably around the time of The God Delusion and the other clattering heels of the godless publishing boom, rumours abounded that atheists got very cross with Christmas. Each one was a Sherwood Alan Rickman, miserably weighed down by the tinsel and joy of festive celebration and decoration. (this was one reason I started Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People) Newspapers were heavy with outrage ink about the banning of Christmas, not the hardest story to refute as you walked around towns and cities brimming with Christmas.
But the veins of eyes popped every December with some new story of nativity plays crushed and children forced to do yuletide plays about lobsters instead (copyright Vanessa Feltz).
Most of that has drifted off to new outrages created from skewiff dreams and misheard conversations, the ash left in the air seems to be a belief that atheists will be insulted if you wish them “a happy Christmas”. In the last few days, I have had various people on the cusp of saying, “happy Christmas”, but then floundering to say, “well, errr not happy Christmas, you know, um, have a lovely break…or festive period…welll, you know, do enjoy the days off you have forced upon you in late december due to the story of that boy in the errr, oh dear, atheists probably don’t like anyone using the word manger…so…”.
I, and most of the godless beatific miserablists, do not give a jot. I care more about the consumer burden and the stupid burden of fear that people stagger under if their Christmas day doesn’t look as John Lewis as they’d hoped. “I knew I shouldn’t have wrapped that penguin so long before Christmas, trust me to forget to puncture the box with airholes. Oh penguin, we will mourn for you as we dry our eyes with paper party hats”. It doesn’t matter if the food is burnt and the cake is teetering and the pudding exploded due to the weight of brandy, enjoy that one time of the year where you can contemplate, and rest, and go for a walk and not work and talk.
And fuck the Boxing day sales – “I must get up at 5am, who knows what knitwear and lycra is savagely reduced in price by Next”. If you say, “happy Boxing Day sales”, then I will be at my scowliest. Should it approach that time of year where people say “Happy Female Genital Mutilation Day” or “Merry I have decided to strap a bomb to my child due to my interpretation of a text day”, then I may be a little scowlier (yes spellcheck, I accept “scowlier” is not a word to you, but I like it).
So, you don’t need to happy holiday me.
To plagiarise myself, “Happy Christmas, or as we atheists say, Happy Christmas”.
I a off to Salford, Belfast, Edinburgh, Berwick, Swindon, then USA and Australia in the new year – http://www.robinince.com
For Christmas horror – here is a new anthology of gory and ghosty stories – Dead Funny