As it is Thanksgiving in the US tomorrow (although we don’t celebrate it here in Australia), I thought it might be an appropriate time to discuss how I feel about Christmas, especially as I am an atheist, along with the fact that the launch of my new online store and DVD have obviously been timed for it.
First of all, there are the obvious practical and commercial considerations: this is the time of year when sales will be maximised, and my fans simply want and expect new stuff to be available from me at this time, so I obviously have to respond to that. However, even though I don’t personally believe in Christmas itself, I still think it is a good thing to have something like it at this time of the year. Indeed, I’m sure that even if humans never invented religion, we would still invent something like Christmas. I think many of us need some time off at the end of the year to take a break from work, and reflect on the year that was. I also think it is appropriate that many of us will wish to spend that time with family and friends. However, this is where I start to disagree with Christmas as it is now.
For one thing, the natural desire of many people to spend time with their family at Christmas has become an obligation. This not only takes the fun out of it, but also potentially generates enormous amounts of stress—we don’t all get along with everyone in our family, and Christmas is often the one time of year when we are forced to come together. Even worse, it makes those people who don’t have a family to spend Christmas with feel left out, lonely or even rejected by society. This potentially creates enormous stress as well, particularly as the modern world is becoming increasingly single. Read the rest of this entry »