But wait, you’re thinking — atheists don’t believe in ghosts and ghoulies. How can I reconcile being a rational, materialistic, hard-nosed scientist and atheist with an appreciation of a holiday dedicated to the supernatural? How can I go even further and claim that not only is it compatible with naturalism, but is a great atheist holiday?

Actually, what I was thinking was that if there’s anything more tiresome than monomaniacal ideologues subjecting everything from art to entertainment to holidays to the Procrustean bed of their ideologies, I’m powerless to imagine it. I’m related to people like that — the closest thing approximating joy in their lives is the never-ending chore of categorizing every experience as For or Against their particular fixation and reacting accordingly. Knowing full well that no matter how anodyne your opening gambit, you will be aggressively placed into conversational check within moments, you eventually avoid engaging with them at all, which they no doubt interpret as an admission that you can’t handle the truth.

…I think I’d be able to enjoy every religious holiday if it were merely a celebration of cultural history and traditions, if instead of being burdened with the weight of supernatural significance, it was recognized as nothing but a fantasy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone saw Christmas the same way atheists do, as completely comparable to Halloween, where the freight of myth was seen as irrelevant to the fun of the celebration?

I dunno; maybe the lack of genuine belief is why Halloween has no music comparable to Christmas carols. I’m fine with people believing in silly shit as long as we get some choral music out of the deal! Seriously, I realize this question isn’t really a genuine proposition, so much as a thoughtless expression of the common and equally thoughtless belief that all the world’s problems would be solved if only everyone agreed with me (leaving aside the fact that trying to get everyone to believe the same things has been a reliable source of endless conflict throughout history). But still, what the fuck do I care how earnestly or literally other people celebrate Christmas? You don’t have to be sympathetic to the truth claims of Christianity to recognize that not all believers are creationists and Christian Reconstructionists.