Every year they’ve been shouting from the rooftops.   From the crew at Fox & Friends in the morning to their evening lineup their opinion “journalists” serve up a diet of ping-ponging between outrage and fainting couch despair over the “War” on Christmas.   What exactly is it that prompts all this?   Use, especially with retailers of phrases like “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of or in addition to “Merry Christmas.”

Cue Marlon Brando’s “The horror!” in Apocalypse Now.

So we are treated to what’s become an annual ritual of screaming, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments from Fox, talk radio (which as we know is almost entirely the province of the hard-core right wing crowd) with various KKKristian leaders singing their own solos or providing harmony.   Well, that is if it’s possible to make nails screeching down an old-fashioned chalkboard harmonize.   It’s as much a part of their Christmas traditions as manger scenes (and of course protesting them not being allowed on govt. property, or if so being simultaneously outraged and distraught over having to share with other religions!), and of course Christmas Eve services!

It just wouldn’t be a real Christmas for them if they weren’t allowed to shove THEIR religious beliefs and an entire holiday season down EVERYONE’S throat to the exclusion of any other religion and definitely down the throats of people who don’t subscribe to any faith at all!

Now, those who know me or read what I write know that I’ve been agnostic for over two decades.   That however doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate Christmas though.   On the contrary.   There is much I enjoy about the holiday season.   Sending and getting a few Christmas cards (more on that later) and in the latter case taping them up to the wall.    Money has been tight in recent years so buying and decorating a tree is something I’ve had to forgo but it’s fun and makes a home smell great.   I love Christmas songs including some that are a bit irreverent.   I even appreciate the majestic sounds of some true religious music, such as some of the selections from Handel’s Messiah (which I listen to during dinner on Christmas Eve) and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols which I have cued up to play as soon as I wake up Christmas morning.    Ever since 1968 I watch the Apollo 8 episode from the mini-series From The Earth To The Moon and tears still come to my eyes in the scene where Bill Anders looks up out his window as the capsule comes around the far side of the moon and is witness to the first “Earth Rise” in human consciousness.   The iconic picture which inspired the first Earth Day, and the images sense of this beautiful (from a distance) blue and white ball we live on inspires me still.   I was eleven years old back then and as with many churches the normal time of our Christmas Even “candlelight” service was changed so people could get home and watch the live broadcast from Lunar orbit.    And agnostic or not I have to admit still being moved by their concluding the broadcast with the first few verses of Genesis – and Frank Borman’s sign off of “And for of you back home, God bless all of you on the good Earth.”

I always end with Christmas Eve with a movie that I believe truly captures why I still celebrate Christmas, which is the hope the season inspires in so many people regardless of their particular faith or even if like me they lack faith.   Hope.   That magical, and typically all too brief time when we imagine being our better selves.   Sometimes it does actually lead to tangible good will done for others, and even lasting changes in people.   The movie is Scrooged, and Bill Murray’s dialogue at the end nails it perfectly, at least for me:   It’s the one night of the year when we act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more…  For a few hours out of the whole year we are the people we always dreamed we would be.   It’s a miracle.”

So it’s not just to honor my mom (a subject for a different time) but because I believe the Christmas season, for all the commercialization and all the fake piety does inspire hope, and a true desire in people to try and do better.  To be better.   For far too many people it doesn’t last, or even for very long but it’s there every year and to me that’s something worth celebrating.   At the same time I recognize there are other religions and belief systems that also are tied to the holiday season.  That includes Wicca by the way.   Conservative Christians in particular don’t want to talk about the fact that Jesus was almost certainly born in the spring, and that the celebration of his birth at the time of the year Christians hold it is due to appropriation of various widespread pagan customs and beliefs.   Anyway, there are other belief systems that hold what is considered the Christmas season as sacred.  They too are worthy of recognition and celebration, or at least accommodating those who hold those beliefs.   I just get pissed off that certain Christians, or as I consider them “Christians” because while they love to talk the talk don’t have much (if any) interest in walking the walk Christ taught they should walk DEMAND we give over the whole season to them and them alone.

As far as these people are concerned it’s MERRY CHRISTMAS goddammit and NOTHING else is allowed to “intrude” on “their” month.

But let’s turn to what started me on this little semi-rant.   The U.S. Postal Service has been systematically being sabotaged.   Every year despite a massive influx of mail and packages containing Christmas cards, and gifts (whether sent directly from retailers or freaking Amazon or personally from person to person after being giftwrapped) the Postal Service gets the job done.   It might take a couple of extra days, and a bit longer with packages but for the most part the USPS shines.   As they do throughout the year.

Or did.

This year, Trump and the GOP are so desperate to hold on to power they’ve taken their tried and true and already pretty effective systematic voter suppression to a whole new level.   More people being able to vote has long scared the bejesus (pun intended!) out of them.   There are a handful of states that have given every voter a mail in ballot automatically every election and have proven not only to have significantly higher participation rates than the rest of the country, but virtually no fraud.   In other words universal mail in balloting works.    In multiple “laboratories of Democracy” conservatives love to talk about (when it suits them such as insane tax cuts like Kansas did) vote by mail increases participation and despite claims by Trump and conservative outlets without fraud.    Add that in with the fact that except in the reddest of states increased participation allows Democratic voters to participate/vote more easily and they are absolutely terrified of an election in which most of the population can register, request an absentee or mail-in ballot, fill it out and send it in.    They are also afraid that THIS year Democrats will be ramped up with their own well trained election observers to track those ballots, and take their place in county clerk’s offices to both ensure all the ballots are opened and counted, but fight off attempts to toss out ballots.

Conservative aren’t just scared of a fair fight.   They are as I’ve noted bat-sh!t crazy TERRIFIED!

So, since Trump is willing to continue destroying norms and ignoring laws like the old Godzilla creature stomping skyscrapers into rubble the GOP is meekly playing along.   In his despicable, authoritarian efforts to ensure his own re-election he will also increase their own odds.    I’m sure many of them are doing their own Susan Collins imitations, rationalizing to themselves and others that Trump will have learned some lessons and will finally grow into being “Presidential”, or that it will be time to reign him in some but they are kidding themselves.    And they damn well know it, but don’t have the guts to put the country first.   Then of course there are the all too many who WANT Trump to increase his authoritarian actions and turn us into an actual dictatorship.   Back when I used to be active on FB I posted the beer garden scene whether what turns out to be a “brown shirt” teenager sings Tomorrow Belongs To Me with a comment to the effect that this was what electing Trump lead to.   My sister ripped me a new one about that.    It’s as angry as I can ever remember her being at me.    But I think events have borne out that tens of millions of Americans, as well as numerous Republican elected officials and leaders are as seduced by the sentiment in that song as was the case when Germany allowed itself to be taken over by Hitler’s seductive call making promises he couldn’t keep even if he intended to.    But I digress so let’s get back to the USPS.

Conservative media has pleaded with us to take the War on Christmas seriously.    Well, it turns out they were right.   That it would happen.   Only now that there IS a real War on Christmas it’s THEIR guy launching precision guided bombs at Santa’s workshop!

If sabotaging the Postal Service and already screwing up people’s mail this summer, which btw contains hundreds of thousands of prescription medications delivered by U.S. Mail (my own from the VA for example) then if people get sick or even die?   Oh well.   A few of them might shed crocodile tears but very damned few.   Before I forget, as a veteran I can attest to how important mail is to our troops.   Especially those overseas.    How many letters with pictures (say of a newborn) or “care packages” containing everything from home baked cookies to needed gear that the military supply system doesn’t provide will be lost?  Or the baked goodies spoiled by the time they arrive?   Well, as Trump would say they knew what they had signed up for and hardships are part of the deal.   It just is more proof that for Trump and so many other GOP types don’t give a rat’s patootie about the troops other than as a prop for some faux “patriot” flag waving o their part.   Other vital mail like contracts that require signatures, payments of rent or mortgages will be held up too, as will people’s bills which will help out GOP officials rich donor pals by generating late fees.    I’ll bet more than a few of these anal orifices masquerading as actual complete human beings have been chuckling mightily over that one.

But make no mistake.   The changes that have been and will continue (how many more mail sorting machines will be removed to slow down the mail?) are ALL about preventing the Postal Service from being able to deliver absentee/mail in ballots – both to voters and from voters back to election officials in country offices.   That’s the driving force behind all of this.

Of course, once the election is over we’ll soon be into Thanksgiving and the holiday season.    And these same people will be going absolutely bonkers over their Christmas cards and packages not arriving at their intended destinations until mid or even late January.    That’s if they ever arrive at all.   How many millions of pieces of mail (and packages) will wind up stuffed in warehouses during the holiday season and wind up being sent to landfills?

Now THAT is a very tangible and REAL war on Christmas.

So where the hell is the outage followed by the fainting couch collapses of the folks at Fox and right wing talk radio?    Where are the Op-eds in major newspapers by conservative columnists?   The war is well underway and they are silent.    Well, not exactly.   They are cheerleading Trump and his totally unqualified except for being a major donor Postmaster “General” as they conduct a multi-faceted, crippling attack on an institution that is an integral part of making so many Christmas memories possible.   And if Christmas is ruined for countless people?   Their attitude is “suck it up and get over it – we had an election to STEAL this year!”

So much for their years of “anguish” over their supposed (actual fake news btw) “War on Christmas.
(I’m cool if you don’t think this should be included, but if so please put it in italics)
(Cue sad music) Sorry kids, but it’s not going to be much of a Christmas this year.   When mommy and daddy got laid off because of that disease Fox and our pastor kept saying was a hoax that turned out to be real we got behind on the mortgage.   And when there was money to pay it the check somehow never made it to the mortgage company and now they are trying to take the house away.   The mail used to be so reliable and then….   If we’re lucky mommy can find us an actual apartment somewhere.   I know it’s tough without daddy but his heart medications got lost in the mail just like grandma and grandpa’s medicines and when they got so sick the hospitals were already full of those people with that disease the President said would magically go away.   Or never existed in the first place.   Or something.    Even grownups have trouble figuring out the grownup stuff he tells us.    At least the cemetery is in walking distance so we can still visit them.    I’m afraid there won’t be any presents this year, or maybe even Christmas cards.  What’s that about Santa?   Well, you see with the mail so messed up your letters to Santa won’t make it to the North Pole.   And our relatives that still have jobs and money and try to send gifts through the mail?  Well, unless they can pay extra to ship them via the President’s friends at FedEx or the Postmaster General’s friends at UPS those probably won’t get to us.    I don’t want you getting your hopes up and want you to know now that money is going to be tight and I don’t think I’ll be able to buy you any presents or have extra money to bake up all those Christmas treats you’ve gotten before. et here either.   I just want you to understand how things will probably be.    Oh, and I know how much you like the candlelight service at our mega-church on Christmas Eve but so many people have already gotten sick, and with the pastor and so many of the elders dying they might actually not have a service this year.   Something about donations being down and not being able to afford the fines for breaking the law and holding a large gathering.   You know what?   When I was a little girl I remember something about Jesus saying whenever two of you are gathered in my name I’m there.   If I can find an old bible, maybe at the public library if they re-open I can look that up to make sure.    There’s nothing about it in my special bible updated by real Christian leaders like Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell Jr. and all those guys.   But I think I might be remembering that old family bible I had before they had me toss it on to the fire at a big book burning party we had before you were born.  So maybe, we can have a little bit of Christmas wherever we are living then.   Just us.   Still having each other is a kind of gift, and it will have to do this year…

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  1. The season means many things to many people. I’m most worried about people’s medications and such. A more immediate need. Christmas will bring the joy we bring to it.

    • I really do wonder if part of the slowdown is an intentional scam to allow banks and mortgage companies to collect late fees. In the latte case it’s just the kind of thing “Munchkin” would cook up with his old pals and then take to Trump. As long as he got his cut of the action Trump would have probably ordered the mail fuckery even if it wasn’t an election year.

  2. I really enjoyed your description of your holiday traditions and the meaning you attach to them, Dennis. I too consider myself agnostic, but still feel a “good will toward men” during the season.

    • Funny you should mention that. The selections from Messiah I listen to when I sit down for Christmas Eve dinner concludes with the Pastoral Symphony, followed by Glory to God. For anyone who doesn’t know, the phrases sung by the chorus are Glory to god, in the highest. And peace on Earth. Good will towards men. That last phrase, from the time first sung is the only one used for the rest of that selection. A truly beautiful piece of music expressing a sentiment appropriate to the season and the entire year. As I see it, even if like me one isn’t a person of faith, Peace on Earth and Good will towards men (and women) is something everyone can and should appreciate and get behind.

      In the context of my article I’d somewhat irreverently add “Good will means wear a damn mask and practice social distance jackass!


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