*gasp* WHAT?! "Merry Christmas"?! From Doc Rotwang!? But -- but-- ! Doc Rotwang! is a filthy damn baby-eating godless damn filthy A-T-H-E-I-S-T! Why would a filthy damn baby-eating godless damn filthy atheist wish anyone a Merry Christmas?
Why? Because I'm not a callous, heartless jerk. Being an atheist doesn't make you a callous, heartless jerk. Being a callous, heartless jerk makes you a callous, heartless jerk and I do my best not to be a callous, heartless jerk.
You know...look. I live in the United States. We got Christmas here, and it's not going away. Nor do I want it to go away, because I actually sort of enjoy it. So I've decided that I will enjoy it, and wish a Merry Christmas to everyone else, too, while I'm at it.
So why do I enjoy it? I certainly don't believe believe that it marks the birth of Christ; that is most likely to have happened in Summer or Fall to begin with, and it's pretty damned obvious that what we call 'Christmas' is an old pagan holiday marking the winter solstice, hijacked by guys with a book and some power. I won't go into all of that, because others have covered it already. So no need to recap.
What I like about Christmas is that very original identity as a pagan celebration. "Dammit! It's cold, dark and shitty outside. We need cheering up. So...let's build a fire, put lights on things that don't normally have lights, drink something hot and eat! Whoooo!"
THIS MAKES COMPLETE AND TOTAL SENSE TO ME BECAUSE FUCK WINTER.
Oh, and the gifts. Yeah, I like getting gifts. I like giving gifts. I like sharing. I like that there's a convenient excuse for everyone to try -at least- to focus on the compassion and camaraderie that makes us human. We are social animals; animals, yes, but capable of compassion. That's a big thing about what makes us human, and I like to celebrate it. It's a common theme at Christmas, and like I say -- Christmas ain't goin' anywhere, sooooo...
Actually, I like to celebrate human compassion all year long, because it's just that important. As far as I'm concerned, when it come up at Christmastime, that's just everyone else catching up to me.
I cannot, and would not, and should not and will not and don't want to speak for all atheists on anything but a few things. But for me, one of the cornerstones of my atheism is the love for life and the quality of it -- and not just my life. When I say "quality of life", I mean EVERYONE'S life, even the lives of people with whom I disagree, or who would see me harmed or censured because they disagree with me. I don't care about those things.
I care about life mattering, and being experienced, and being treasured and being lived like it's the only one we'll ever get, because it IS.
Merry Christmas. If you celebrate it for secular reasons, great. If you celebrate it for religious reasons, great. If you celebrate it because you like eggnog and it's hard to find the rest of the year, great. If you call it -- whatever you call your holidays. Whatever. It's like this:
Enjoy it, damn you.