This was going to be the year I officially declared myself a noncombatant in the Christmas war. Season of joy, goodwill toward men and all that. I love Christmas, have always loved Christmas, will always love Christmas, and I decided to go into a cozy Christmas bunker with family and friends, and let this silly seasonal culture war rage without me.
So much for Old Year resolutions.
I've been prodded out of my naïve torpor by tidings of great gloom from exemplary Christian and Great American Bill O’Reilly, who warns — again — that my favorite holiday is under attack.
What has Balanced Bill's undies in a wad this time is an outfit called the American Humanist Association, which has posted ads on city buses that read: "No God? No Problem! Be Good for Goodness' Sake." Another group, Freedom From Religion, has posted ads in Las Vegas: "Yes, Virginia, there is no God."
That second one is especially alarming. Because if there is any place in all this great wide world where the true spirit of Christmas and everything it really stands for is on display every day of the year, it's Vegas.
This alarm is particularly timely for me; we were planning to decorate our Christmas tree this weekend, a treasured family ritual.
Now, as this is being written, the prospect of a mob of atheists, humanists and ACLU lawyers kicking in our door, blow-torching a fresh-cut Douglas fir right there in the living room and hauling us all off to some agnostic gulag is giving me the fantods.
It's almost scary how many Christmases I've enjoyed in happy and naive complacency, blissfully unaware that familiar salutations like "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" — which, contrary to lamentations of recent years, have actually been around for a couple of centuries — were an insidious assault on my belief system. I suppose I am now morally obligated to make sure such phrases offend me profoundly.
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