Thursday, December 17, 2009

Legend for the Ages: The Story of Christmas

The beauty of mythology is that it celebrates one of man's most treasured possessions—the imagination. With the unique powers of the imagination, one can construct that which reason tells us cannot be constructed; travel to places reason tells us we cannot go; become something reason tells us we will never become. Reason, it seems, has no place in such a conjured world.

The cult of reason and rationality often fails to satisfy our collective appetite for the unreal, the unachievable, the unknowable. But we have ingeniously devised a way to go to these very places where none have gone before. The imagination takes us on these fantastical voyages to worlds which cannot become real, and yet manage to become nearly real through the magic of belief! By believing something to be true, we ground in our own reality that which would otherwise remain forever outside the world of possibility.

And so it is with Christmas. For the faithful, this holiday commemorates events believed to have actually occurred. For the rest of us, it has evolved into a legend of grand proportions—a myth worthy of the gods. And frankly, this is where Christmas belongs—as a fable among fables, the finest of folklore.

As unassailable dogma, the story of Christmas fails completely; as fruit from the tree of the imagination, however, it succeeds in grand style. Here it can be embraced for the quaint and charming fiction that it is. That being said, wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" nonetheless has the feel of a ratifying gesture many of us are not comfortable offering. Until such time as the story of Christmas is relieved of the religious burden to ground itself in reality, the seasonal greeting of choice for us skeptics will likely remain "Happy Holidays."

Perhaps in another thousand years, the Christmas tale will be told to our young without the taint of religious indoctrination, and will instead be appreciated for what it truly is—precious fodder for the untamed imagination.


  1. Working in retail and coming from a community heavy with the Jewish community, I learned early on to wish folks a Happy Holiday. With so many people celebrating so many different holidays...Christmas, Hannahuk (sp?), Kwanza, Rhamadan (sp?) and those who celebrate nothing, I stick to Happy Holidays.

    But I am still baffled as to how to politely tell people that I do not celebrate Christmas in the religious sense? And I so wish we could let go of the gift buying as well. It's not my color or style. So please let's stop.

  2. You wrote: "Reason, it seems, has no place in such a conjured world."

    For Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell, reason was often absent in their pronouncements during their recent failed races for the United States Senate.

    For Mrs. Angle, this was heard clearly by voters here in Nevada. She seems to live in a fantasy land of her own creation.

  3. It's refreshing to hear someone from Nevada call out Sharron Angle for what she is. The thought of her being a member of the US Senate was a little unnerving.

    Have you noticed, most of the extremists lack the most important quality to serve in public office—the personal gravitas required to command any respect.