We celebrate an unusually long holiday season in my family. My wife's birthday is on October 23, which Robert Shea once assured her is also the birthday of the universe. Halloween, a few days later, has always been very big around here, too. In fact, we were putting up a Halloween tree ten years before anybody else seems to have thought of it.
After a few weeks' rest, we go all out for Thanksgiving, not because the Pilgrims ate the Indians or anything like that, but because the original celebration was all about having gotten rid of socialism and enjoying, consequently, the rich abundance that peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity offer those who practice private enterprise. Thanksgiving is the ultimate and quintessential American holiday. No wonder trendy leftists detest it so bitterly and attempt to smear it with their usual knee-jerk accusations of racism. They know what it's really all about, even if most of their antagonists do not.
It says here that Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving -- got its name from the Philadelphia cops, who resented having to do their jobs when they were still bloated from the preceding day's feasting. Citizens would show up in droves downtown (and still do), looking for bargains and paying, by means of equally-bloated taxes, for all the nightsticks, teargas, pepper fog, and Mace that make life so thoroughly worth living for the boys and girls on the Thin Blue Line.
I hate the expression "Black Friday" because it seems like custom tailored propaganda for Marxists -- about half of the population these days -- to wallow in at the expense of what really makes the rockin’ world go round, capitalism. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels that way. The merchants in my home town have taken to calling it "Plaid Friday" which is cute -- especially if you're a _Forever Plaid_ fan -- but I've got a better idea. Since it's all about money, can you imagine the shrieking from the left when we start calling it "Green Friday"?
The next important date on our calendar around here is December 5th, my daughter Rylla's birthday. It's hardly credible, but she's 22, a student and actor. We have a photo of her as a newborn, lying among the other presents under the Christmas tree in 1989. Next to finding the love of my life, she's the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I have written about Christmas itself on many previous occasions. You don't have to subscribe to the local religion to realize that every civilization in the planet's temperate zone desperately needs a moment of color and light and warmth in the middle of a cold gray winter.
And maybe a drink or two.
Thus, not surprisingly, there has been some midwinter holiday in every civilization humanity ever produced that had to endure cold, gray days. I've lived everywhere in North America from the arctic to the tropics; the worst I ever needed holiday cheer was in Sacramento, California. (Mark Twain once said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.) The most ancient winter holiday that my research can find is Zagmuk, celebrated by the Babylonians and other Mesopotamians, for the triumph of the god-king Marduk over the forces of Chaos, which seems like a pretty good thing for libertarians to celebrate.
Chaos pretty badly needs a through defeating again these days.
I've been an atheist since I was eight years old, but I don't really care if you want to call it Christmas. That kind of "political correctness" is just cruel and ugly. If you wish me a Merry Christmas, I'll jovially wish it right back to you, because I know where it's coming from. In the same spirit, I never mind seeing or hearing about the baby Jesus lying in a manger (a lovely story that was swiped from the ancient worshippers of Mithras). What's important is our homes and our families -- everything that speaks of the best hopes and wishes humanity possesses -- and a temporary truce with life's stupidity and evil.
Just as important, I believe, it the greatly cursed and reviled "commercialization" of Christmas, something I'm entirely in favor of. Thanksgiving celebrates the triumph of individual enterprise over socialism. Christmas is a celebration of the private capitalism that has allowed us to bring toys and sugar plums to everybody that we love.
Don't let anyone take that away from you, ever.
A final word: as anybody whose birthday falls near Christmas can attest, December 15th is a lousy time for another holiday, let alone the most important political anniversary of the year. But it's the birthday of the Bill of Rights, and it's important to mark the day. The Bill of Rights, the thinking behind it, are what made everything else we celebrate possible. So remember it as best you can, and when Christmas rolls around, think back on it, only ten days earlier, when our species emerged from the Dark Ages of tyranny into the light of freedom.
Happy Zagmuk, and may 2012 truly bring us tidings of comfort and joy.