Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Getting into the spirit

So it's Black Friday, wherein we Americans follow up a day set aside to give thanks for everything we have with a day set aside to trample each other to death trying to save money on overhyped garbage we really don't need.

Me, I stay right the hell away from stores on Black Friday.  I hate shopping in any case, and the rabid crowds only make it worse.  Plus, today marks the first day of the Little Drummer Boy Challenge, a yearly contest in which participants see how long they can make it into the Christmas season without hearing "The Little Drummer Boy," which ranks right up there with "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" as the most annoying Christmas carol ever written.  This song not only is irritating as hell, it also has what must be the most ridiculous plot line ever dreamed up, involving a kid who comes up to a pair of new parents with a peacefully sleeping newborn baby, and the kid thinks, "You know what these people need?  A drum solo."

Frankly, I'm surprised Joseph didn't smack him.  Pah-rum-puh-pum-POW, you odious little twerp.

I've participated in this contest for nine years, and haven't made it to Christmas Day undefeated yet.  My most ignominious loss occurred a few years ago, when I was taken out of the competition by a clerk in a hardware store who didn't even know all of the freakin' words, and kept having to la-la bits of it:
Come they LA LA pah-rum-puh-pum-pum
A newborn LA LA LA pah-rum-puh-pum-pum
Our LA LA gifts we bring pah-rum-puh-pum-pum
LA LA before the king pah-rum-puh-pum-pum, rum-puh-pum-pum, rum-puh-pum-pum
And so on and so forth.  He was singing it with hearty good cheer, so I felt kind of guilty when I realized that he'd knocked me out of the game and blurted out, "Are you fucking kidding me?" a little louder than I intended, eliciting a shocked look from the clerk and a significant diminishment in the general Christmas spirit amongst those around me.

Thomas Couture, The Drummer Boy (1857) [Image is in the Public Domain]

And of course, the Christmas season wouldn't be complete without the Fox News types ramping up the whole imaginary War on Christmas thing.  We atheists have allegedly been waging this war for what, now... twenty years?  Twenty-five?  And yet if you'll look around you, just like the Grinch's attempt at banishing Christmas from Whoville, the holiday season still goes right on, pretty much exactly as it did before.

Oops!  Shouldn't say "holiday," because that's part of the War on Christmas, too, even though the word "holiday" comes from "holy day" and therefore is also religious.  This is a point that seems to escape a lot of the Fox News and Newsmax commentators and their ilk, but to be fair, "grip on reality" has never been their forte anyhow.  This year, for example, the rage-of-the-season has been triggered by we Godless Liberal Democratic Unpatriotic Snowflakes somehow inducing Starbucks to put out holiday cups that have designs of hearts and stars instead of having Christmas trees or presents or whatnot, a decision which apparently is Very Naughty In God's Sight.  One furious ex-customer shrieked, "Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus!!!", because apparently all it takes to defeat their all-powerful and omnipotent God is to change the design on some disposable paper cups.

What is wryly amusing about all of this is that I'm one of the aforementioned liberal atheists, and I love the holidays.  We had a nice turkey-and-stuffing dinner yesterday with my brother-in-law and his family for Thanksgiving, and I'm already putting together some gifts for friends and family for Christmas and looking forward to putting up a tree.  So it might come as a surprise to Fox News et al. that in December I tell people "Merry Christmas" at least as often as I say "Happy Holidays." Basically, if someone says "Merry Christmas" to me, I say it back to them; if they say, "Happy Holidays," I say that.  Likewise "Happy Hanukkah," "Happy Kwanzaa," "Blessed Solstice," "Merry Festivus," or "Have A Nice Day."

You know why?  If people speak kindly to me, I reciprocate, because I may be a liberal and an atheist, but I am not an asshole.  So I guess that's three ways in which I differ from the commentators over at Fox News.

Basically, be nice to me, I'll be nice to you.  Unless you're singing "The Little Drummer Boy."  I'm sorry, but my tolerance does have its limits.

In any case, mostly what I plan to do today is to sit around recovering from the food-and-wine-induced coma in which I spent most of yesterday evening.  So however you choose to observe the day and the season, I hope you enjoy it, whether you get into the spirit of it or pretty much ignore the whole thing.



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