I didn't always hate Christmas. When I was a little kid, I thought it was awesome. It was that special time of year where we didn't have to go to school for what seemed like forever, and then one night, while running around and playing with our cousins, we got a bunch of new toys. It was great.
I didn't know that Christmas had anything to do with Christianity until I moved to Indiana, where everybody was deeply religious. I was 10 years old by that time. My family wasn't religious, but I hadn't developed my contempt for religion by that point, so I didn't really care. Christmas was still the time of year for not going to school and for getting a bunch of new toys. It was still my favorite holiday.
It wasn't until high school that I began to hate religion. I got sick of all the assholes using Jesus as their excuse for sexism and homophobia. I got sick of the self-righteous bastards pointing their fingers and telling me that I was going to go to Hell for completely absurd reasons. I got sick of being seemingly the only person, among smart people and idiots alike, that didn't believe in silly ancient superstitions about a man being nailed to a stick and saving everybody's souls. I was so disgusted by the prevailing irrational beliefs that I stopped celebrating Christmas.
But not really.
A friend of mine invented a new holiday, Cakeamongo, that I began celebrating. Cakeamongo was the non-denominational celebration of cake that involved nothing more than eating cake and exchanging gifts. But like the early Christians who had hijacked the December 25th holiday already celebrated by the pagans, renamed it, and ascribed it new meaning, we had just taken the December 25th holiday already celebrated by the Christians, renamed it, and ascribed it new meaning. For years, I was still celebrating Christmas, but I was calling it something else.
As I grow older, I find that my distaste for organized religion has changed. It's not that I don't find it stupid and annoying, because I certainly still do, but the more I think about it, the more dangerous it seems. I honestly believe that religion is by far the greatest threat to mankind that we face. As technology develops, it becomes easier and easier to kill huge numbers of people at one time. We live in a time in which thousands of people can be wiped off the face of the earth in a single stroke, and still huge numbers of people believe in ideologies that teach that the killing of believers in the wrong god is okay. I don't believe that religion is the primary reason that people kill each other, but it sure as hell is a great motivator and justifier. It certainly helps people divide themselves into groups, rather than thinking of themselves as members of one species. If the middle east was populated by poor-as-fuck Christians, and America was populated by wealthy, spoiled Muslims, I don't think things would really be much different than they are today. Millions of Americans believe that we're living in the end times, and that incredible amounts of death and destruction are just part of what's required for Jesus to come back. If things got bad here, I'd expect to see Christians become just as murderous as the Muslim extremists we hear so much about. I don't think it's an accident that the craziest strains of Christianity are followed by the poorest, most uneducated people in the country, just like the craziest strains of any other religion worldwide.
And you know what? I don't want to celebrate a holiday that has anything to do with those crazy, irrational, and downright fucking dangerous old myths.
It's not just the religious aspect of Christmas that I hate, either. I find mindless consumerism to be ridiculous, as well. I do find it kind of funny, though, that the American public has been suckered by huge, money-making corporations into believing that the best way to celebrate the birth of the ultimate anti-materialist is to buy lots of stuff. Still, I want no part of it. It's kind of sad when people believe that the best way to show that they care about a person is to give them material possessions. Material possessions that, in many if not most cases, the person would not have purchased for themselves if given the money and opportunity.
"Sorry I haven't talked to you all year, but I still totally care about you. To prove it, here's some stuff I purchased for you, wrapped in festive holiday paper."
I understand that many people, religious and secular, think of Christmas as a time of goodwill. They think of it as a time for family. That sounds good, but what about the rest of the year? In December, you're nice to your fellow humans, you see your folks, and then you get to be an asshole the rest of the year? I'm all in favor of being a good person, and I'm all in favor of being close to your family, but I think it's horribly selfish to only do it once a fucking year.
I've been called a Grinch, and a Scrooge, and a cheapass for not wanting to participate in holiday gift-giving. It's not that. It's just that I dislike Christianity, consumerism, and the idea that there are only certain times when you should behave like a decent human being.