In the United States, Christmas is now a terrible, terrible tradition. It teaches our children ALL the wrong things about reward systems, values, property and money, and is part of Christianity's attempt to further be endorsed as this country's de facto religious base.

I love Christmas. (gosh, life sure is confusing)

Let me explain.
I feel that there are three levels to Christmas. Each has its own reason for having a Holiday on or around the 25th.

The first level is the Church's reason for Christmas. "Jesus Christ was born, and there were shepherds and donkeys and the Virgin gave birth..." yadda yadda yadda. The Catholic church taught me, and taught me relatively well, for 12 years. During that time, I became a self aware entity in response to the sheep-like behavior of those around me. Jesus was born a few years...after...Jesus...was...born. We don't know what month he was born in. Best estimates are October, not December. So the Church's reason for the Holiday is bogus.

The second level is Capitalism's reason for Christmas. It makes money. Lots of money. The Holiday season not only improves business overall for a period of time, it gives stores a chance to show off. If the business performs during the hectic holiday season, it can improve customer confidence and loyalty, ensuring more business for the store in the 11 other months of the year. The holiday season in general is also a good way to get people thinking about buying stuff. For those of us that go through the year having interactions with businesses only for the purpose of buying food, Christmas is good time to remind folks that they're not living outside their means enough. Capitalism's reason for Christmas is ...umm....not a very good one.

The third level is...well, I'd call it my level, but I know a lot of people who look on the Holiday in the same way that I do. Life is hard. 11 months out of the year, the rat race is an oppressive, soul sucking experience. At the end of every year, it's nice to kind of kick back and appreciate the other people around you. By exchanging gifts, you're saying to the person you give the gift to "Your presence in my life is noteworthy. Danke." Gift giving itself can be a good experience. The key is not to buy the biggest or the best. The key is to buy, or make, something that's meaningful.
Case Study: This year for the Holiday, I'm giving my absolute best friend a CD and a book. The specifics of the gifts and how I made my decision are why the gifts have meaning. This year, I was kind of stumped as to what to get him. I was already kind of creative with a present for him this year, and so I wasn't sure what he would like. So I asked his mom. Now, this in itself is one of the thing I appreciate about gift giving. I think it's incredibly cool that I am a significant enough presence in this guy's life that I can ask his mom for help with picking out a gift for him. Then, the gifts themselves. The CD is one of the latest albums by a band he turned me on to. The book covers a subject area that we are both partial to, and he had a large hand in introducing me to the topic. I know he'll enjoy them, and that's what gift giving is supposed to be about.

Now, I know this was kind of a corny, schmaltzy wu. I hear people getting down on Christmas a lot, and for good reasons. I just wanted to point out that there is validity to the holiday, as long as your heart's in the right place and you're not buying gifts out of attachment to levels one and two.

Have a Holiday.

Oh, and I'm an atheist.

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