Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Atheist's Christmas in the Bronx


Even though my relatives and I were atheist Jews in a predominantly Christian country, I rarely felt as if I was out of the mainstream. Mom, Dad, and Nanny were just as American as anybody else, although maybe just a little louder. OK, a lot louder.

Up until the time I was six, I even imagined that I believed — as much as any fundy kid did — in Santa Claus. I had already dismissed the idea of god, because it just didn’t make any sense. But Santa Claus was different. I mean, the guy was all over the TV screen. He prattled on and on about good conduct with Pinky Lee and Rootie Kazootie, paid surprise visits on cowboys and spacemen and cartoon animals, and even joked snidely about Mrs. Claus with Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason. From the comfort of my living-room, I'd actually seen him ride down Broadway in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; every kid in New York knew that he was on the way to his big throne in the world's most famous department store. And he never said, "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas — except for atheist Jews." He greeted us all, boys and girls of every persuasion. Santa's sole criterion for toy-distribution was a kid's behavior, not his heritage.

Mom, who was always a sucker for family togetherness as depicted in Norman Rockwell illustrations, encouraged my belief. She made a small bow to Chanukah by giving us chocolate gelt, pieces of candy money wrapped in "gold;" sometimes we even lit the menorah. But her obvious opinion, one which we kids shared, was that Chanukah couldn't hold a candle to Christmas. If it had been entirely up to her, we would have all gathered together like a perfect television family, to sing carols and drink eggnog under the mistletoe. Santa Claus was coming to town, and our household was on his itinerary.

Dad went along with her, but only because he didn't have the energy to fight. As a mailman, he worked particularly hard during the holidays when the post office was flooded with thousands of cards from those “meshuga goyim.” I think he reluctantly enjoyed the message of peace on earth, goodwill to men: "Do me something, but that Jesus must have been a real mensch. He was a Jew, d'ja know that?"

Still, Dad could never resist reminding us that we were strangers in a strange land.

"If some fat Christian in a red suit ever snuck up on my grandparents during the night, they would have thought it was a pogrom. But go ahead and believe what you wanna believe. Just remember, Santa Claus is poor this year."

In our house, we never had a Christmas tree. A few families in the community had Chanukah bushes, but not us. Dad hated Nature, and complained constantly that Mom's snake plants were stealing his air. He was sure that bringing a whole tree into the apartment would make it impossible for us to breathe. His main objection, though, was that it would be too much trouble.

"And who's gonna put it together? You?"

"There's nothing to put together, Dad. It's a tree."

"Listen, Sonny Boy, I work hard all day. I don't need to be monkeying around with all those momzer lights and doodads and that shiny stringy stuff—what do the goyim call it?—and having to remember to water the damn thing and not knock it over when I wake up in the middle of the night to pish. You want a tree, move to the forest."

Mom, who took on more and more of a "Babes in Toyland" persona the closer we got to the holidays, who walked around the apartment singing Hit Parade carols like "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," would have loved having a Christmas tree. And she probably could have prevailed easily over Dad if she'd insisted. But she worried about how she could smuggle it in without the neighbors seeing.

"Mom," I'd reason, "who cares? You buy ham and bacon at the store all the time, and we never go to shul."

"A Christmas tree is different."

"What's different about it?"

"Well, bacon is not about Jesus. But a Christmas tree ... that's a very, very Christian thing. It's a whole big megillah about stuff we don't believe in. Mrs. Tannenbaum downstairs would have a conniption if she saw us. I'll hang a stocking and we'll put out a little table for Santa to leave toys on. Nobody has to know."

And that's what she always did. On Christmas Eve, she'd tape two of her nylons, one for Risa and one for me, to the window of our bedroom. We had no chimneys in our project, which worried me. But Mom swore that Santa would ring the doorbell once we kids were asleep, and that he'd give all our toys to her. It never occurred to me to ask why we bothered going through the whole rigmarole with the stocking if he was just going to show up with the stuff at our door like an overweight version of the Seltzer Man.

What I did think to challenge, however, was the plethora of Santas. Everywhere I looked, there he was. He chatted with millions of children in every single department store in New York City. Mom's explanation, which worked for a few years, was that the guy kept running back and forth across the street between Macy's and Gimbel's, stopping this relay only occasionally to take the subway uptown to the Bronx for a stint at Alexander's. And, she added, when he wasn't holding court in some toy department, he was hopping from street corner to street corner to ring a bell for the Salvation Army, or racing to a TV studio to sit for a few minutes with Arthur Godfrey.

But by the time I was six, I was already well on the road to skepticism. I tallied up all the Clauses and thought: How can this be?

It was Nanny who came up with an intricate Santa Claus Classification System, an organizational hierarchy that sounded reasonable. She explained that the real, honest-to-goodness Santa Claus was the one at Macy's, except during the week she had a falling-out with the store because it had run out of My Sin perfume, during which time the Genuine Article had moved briefly to Gimbel's. He was also the one who appeared on prime-time television shows, as long as the star was somebody she liked.

"Oh, yeah," Nanny said, "the Jack Benny Santa Claus is definitely the real one."

"But who's at Macy's while he's on TV?"

"He puts up a sign: Out to Dinner. What, you don't think he has a nice supper every night, with that belly?"

"But if he was on with Jack Benny," I asked, "when did he eat?"

"Always with you it's questions. Listen, they gave him a tongue sandwich and a cup of red Jell-O backstage."

"So that's what happened when he visited Ed Sullivan, too?"

"No, no, use your head. That was an Actor. The real Santa Claus is gonna go on with that shmo? What are you talking?"

"What about the Santa Claus at Alexander's?"

"A Substitute. Santa has a big family, they all look like him. Y'know, like me and my sisters. His brothers go to all the stores, the managers never know the difference."

"Oh, so the one at Klein's is also a substitute, right?"

"Klein's? Feh? That one's a Faker. You'll sit on his lap, he'll try to sell you some shmatta. They're gonna get the real Santa Claus when they can't even clean their bathrooms properly? Who fills your head with such nonsense?"

"So what about the guys who ring the bells?"

"Helpers. Santa gives them a couple of bucks and they work for him."

"But they all look just like him."

"Yeah, so what? Santa's dumb? He advertises to hire, and it says they have to be fat. Except that skinny zhlub standing there by the subway entrance with his beard falling off. Listen, stop hocking me with Santa Claus and help me pick out a Chanukah present for your cousin Marty."

It was a lot of work using Nanny's elaborate taxonomy, and sorting each Santa into his proper slot nearly drove me nuts. But I was good at puzzles and games, and enjoyed the challenge of figuring out who was who. The Santa who had posed for the Coke ad in Life Magazine was, obviously, the Genuine Article; the one who had posed for Pepsi was an Actor. Canada Dry Ginger Ale's Santa was an acceptable Substitute, particularly when I'd had an upset stomach one day, but 7-Up's was a blatant Faker if I ever saw one.

* * *
Regardless of who stood in for Santa on other occasions, I knew that he, himself, was gonna be the one to show up with the loot. That Christmas Eve when I was six, my sister and I were ushered to sleep in a state of near-delirium. Mom had been unusually Christmas-y all night, coyly crooning a medley of the great Yuletide standards written by Jews: "White Christmas," "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," and her own version of a Jerome Kern classic:
They asked me how I knew
Santa Claus was true.
I of course replied,
"Santa has to hide —
Toys get in your eyes."
Even Dad joined in the festive spirit, using a lit cigarette to conduct Mom. My sister, who was only a year and a half old, had caught the excitement, and kept screaming "Santa Claus, Santa Claus," a mantra that eventually conked her out in mid-shout. Shortly thereafter, she was nestled all snug in her bed, dreaming, no doubt, of sugar plums, even though no one in my family had any idea what they were.

But I stayed wide awake, now and then ducking under the covers to check my glow-in-the-dark watch, a practical Chanukah gift I had received from an uncle with connections in the jewelry business. A half-hour eternity must have passed while I waited and waited and waited for the sound of the doorbell announcing Santa's arrival.

Mom peeked her head into our room. "You kids asleep?" she whispered.

I had recently learned that my fake snoring fooled no one, so I just lay there, perfectly still. Mom and Dad tiptoed quietly in. Mom was frequently subject to fits of giddiness, and was evidently in the throes of one. She couldn't stop tittering. Dad banged his knee on the little table they'd put in the center of the room, dropped what sounded like a 20-megaton toy, and yelled out

"Sonuvvabitch!"

Stifled snickering from Mom, who tried unsuccessfully to turn serious. "Did it break, Hon?"

"How the hell do I know? It's wrapped."

"I mean the table. It sounded like it went flying."

"Nah. It just slid along the floor a little."

"Do you think it scratched the wood?"

"It scratched my leg, I'll tell you that."

"You're not bleeding on the toys, are you?"

"Who cares about the goddamn toys, f'cryinoutloud? I'm wounded here. You and your farkockteh Christmas."

"Sha. Die kinder."

The next thing Dad did was to pull down a curtain rod on the window when he went to fill the stocking.

"Agghhh. Shit."

"Sha." Uncontrollable giggling. "What happened?"

"I got caught on the drapes."

"Don't break the window."

"Do you wanna do this, Babe? Do you wanna do this?"

Mom made a noise that sounded like she was being tickled unmercifully.

"Don't put a run in my stocking."

"Just tell me if you wanna do this. What are you, some secret shikseh, the Christmas maven? Owww. Goddamn radiator. It's hot, f'Chrissake! These chocolate cigarettes are gonna melt before the kids wake up."

"Gimme them. I'll put them on the table."

"What else goes in here?"

"The yo-yos and the sock puppets. Can you squoosh the puppets in?"

A ripping sound revealed that he couldn't.

"What'd you rip?"

"Your stocking. Relax."

Hysterical cackling. "That's a good stocking."

"Oh, and my knee wasn't a good knee?"

"Your knee, you can cover up. My stocking, everybody sees."

"So do me something. Next time we go out, you can wear the sock puppets. Are we done with this mishegoss?"

“I think the kids are up. Are you up?”

Aha! A trap. Mom expected me to say “no,” like I usually did. But I just lay there. Miraculously, I had managed to keep totally quiet through all the mayhem. I hoped I could resist the urge to get up right away and check whether all my new toys were still intact.

Mom whispered, "Well, I guess they’re sleeping. Gut yontif" — "Happy holiday" — and I could hear kissing. I hoped it was happening far enough way from my toys that they didn’t get any lovey-dovey cooties on them. I knew that in the morning, the room was going to look like it had been attacked by an army of Subs and Zhlubs, Helpers and Actors and Fakers. But as my parents walked through the door, both chuckling now, I lay there in my bed, a real atheist at last, proud of my discovery: Mom and Dad, and they alone, were the Genuine Article.

66 comments:

the chaplain said...

I had already dismissed the idea of god, because it just didn’t make any sense. But Santa Claus was different. I mean, the guy was all over the TV screen.

There's definitely a lot more evidence for Santa than there is for a god.

True story: the deacon and I were at a church service years ago, listening to a lady do the children's story. She started with something about Superman, then, as she tried to segue into her main point, she made the unfortunate mistake of saying, "We all know that Superman isn't real, don't we?"

One little boy piped up, "Superman is real - I saw him on TV."

Very smart kid.

C. L. Hanson said...

That's amusing that your mom would specifically pick Christmas songs by Jewish composers and songwriters -- it seems that many of the best modern Christmas songs were written by Jews. I was just reading an article about it here when doing a little research on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" for my latest Christmas post.

So your mom could have included "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Holly Jolly Christmas", and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" -- all by Johnny Marks!

John Evo said...

"If some fat Christian in a red suit ever snuck up on my grandparents during the night, they would have thought it was a pogrom.

Classic!

Who knew a great Christmas story could be written filled with Yiddish?

(((Billy))) said...

Fantastic. One of the best Christmas stories I've read in years. Your home must have been an absolute hoot!

I was the opposite of you, though, in one respect. I lost my belief in Santa Claus long before I gave up believing in any form of God(s). When I was five we lived at Death Valley. We shopped in Las Vegas. We visited a mall Santa (no Macy's for us). The three of us got into his lap, looked him the eye, and I said, "Badwater Pete? What are you doing here?" Badwater Pete was a prospector in the Death Valley area and was chubby, red cheeked (sundburn? and had a full white beard.

At the age of six, we moved from Death Valley to Grand Canyon. We visited the Santa at Babbits (the grocery store/general store at Grand Canyon). Sure enough, Santa was Badwater Pete. I asked what he was doing so far from home. He said he was visiting his son in Flagstaff and was earning some extra bucks as a Santa for Babbits.

I could never bring myself to believe in Santa after those two years. I guess knowing Santa (and knowing that he's an alcoholic desert prospector) changes ones perspective.

Enjoy the axial tilt!

PhillyChief said...

Hilarious!
Nanny of course stole the show. She always does. I guess she was great training for your future debates with Christians. Her Santa rationalizations are far and away better than any fundie ones I've ever read.

heather said...

Great tale but what's a conniption?

heather said...

in fact,now I come to think about it, what's a "French-cut" - as in canned stringbeans?

yinyang said...

I feel like I missed out on the Santa revelation. My brother told me when I was five, I believed him unquestioningly, then I went off to inform my mom. There was no outrage that I had been lied to, and no pride at figuring things out.

Ah, well. I figured out the Easter Bunny all on my own.

My dad's like your mom - he loves Christmas. Every Christmas morning he gets up early and sets up a train that plays some holiday tunes around the tree.

Which reminds me... I have to decorate the tree this year... guess I better go do that.

Happy holidays!

The Exterminator said...

chappy:
Actually, there's even more evidence for Superman than there is for Santa. Just watch a few Seinfeld episodes, and you'll have all the proof you need.

C.L.:
White Christmas: The Story of an American Song is a wonderful book about Irving Berlin's creation. Here's one of my favorite quotes, in which the book's author (Jody Rosen) puts a (Philip) Rothian gloss on Berlin's old standard:
In an age of post-melting-pot identity politics, we might regard the Jewish creation of Christmas culture with a mixture of bewilderment and scorn. But this view misses the impishness of a feat like "White Christmas," the sheer chutzpah that compelled a refugee from a pogrom-scourged corner of Siberia -- no stranger to the subtler American forms of anti-Semitic prejudice -- to write a Christmas anthem that buried all traces of the holiday's Christian origins beneath three feet of driven snow.

Evo:
Who knew a great Christmas story could be written filled with Yiddish?
Wait till you see all the Russian words I use in my tale about Groundhog Day.

(((Billy))):
Enjoy the axial tilt!
And the same to you, fellow Northern Hemispherean.

Philly:
Nanny's taxonomy of Santas still crops up in my mind when I least expect it. The other day I saw a skinny Florida Santa Salvo ringing his bell in front of a store, and I thought, "What a zhlub. AND a faker!" Unfortunately, the real Macy's is hundreds of miles away, so I didn't get to see the Genuine Article this year.

heather:
A conniption is a fit of anger. Canned stringbeans are French-cut if, and only if, they've been hacked by Parisians.

Yinny:
I'd like to have that train myself. In my house, I usually have to run around the living-room in circles, singing. FYI: Drinking two or three glasses of heavily spiked eggnog makes that a much pleasanter task.

life insurance Canada said...

Chanukah...Christmas...winter solstice...but we all know the fat man is actually walking Coca-Cola advert and the whole Christmas are made up by Wal-Mart :))
But whatever, I loved it and I think my kids love it too, so I don't care, just want the m-y-s-t-e-r-y (eh...) to continue :)
Best wishes and enjoy holiday!
Lorne

iambilly said...

I realized this one this afternoon (and (at the risk of blatant self-promotion) I wrote about it this evening). We are actually celebrating the ultimate proof that abstienence-only sex-educatoin does not prevent pregnancy.

The Exterminator said...

Lorne:
I already have life insurance. But I give you credit for not trying to sell me a penis enlarger or a chance to strike it rich in Nigeria. And happy holidays to you and your kids.

(((Billy))):
...at the risk of blatant self-promotion ...
No risk whatsoever. You made it a sure thing. Shall I include a link?

PhillyChief said...

Is this a real Santa?

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
That's no Santa at all. It's a picture of my rebbe wearing his winter yarmulke.

tina FCD said...

Your mom sounds like she was fun growing up.
We have an older house with a register grate in the ceiling of my dining room. It was always left open to allow heat into the bedroom upstairs.
We used to wrap all of the presents on our table in the dining room, well, kids always confess sooner or later, this time much later. My daughter, which has a ten year old of her own, said every year they would all crouch around that register and watch us wrap all their presents.
Bummer, why can't they keep that to themselves!? :)

C. L. Hanson said...

That's a fantastic quote about Irving Berlin, and it makes me smile with gratitude at his chutzpah! I only take issue with the word "origins".

C. L. Hanson said...

to clarify: I would have said "Christian component" or "Christian aspects" instead of "Christian origins."

Judy Weismonger said...

In this nearing birthday of the imaginary jesus, the Christians need to show us their love.

My Christmas Letter of Good Cheer to Christians:

Long before you silly, confused, lying, obfuscating, faking frauds created your NEW religion 2000 years ago (by voting jesus in as a god in 325 AD by the Nicene Council)---Winter Solstice was celebrated for at least 5000 to 8000 years before you upstarts stole the celebration, up to and including appointing the birth of jesus as the same day as Winter Solstice, Dec 25th (which conveniently was also the birthday appointed to two other gods, Apollo and Mithra).

So...when we say...Happy Winter Solstice...the traditions and acknowledgment of when the life-giving SUN is farthest from the earth and thus begins the realignment of the earth and the Sun back to being closer to us...so plants can live, we can grow food and eat, the earth warms up, water flows, and Spring is on the way...sustaining life on this planet, it is really significant. Your religion has completely ignored life on this planet which is very important. Winter Solstice means something real.

Your dream world and delusional religion, cannot plant crops, sustain life, or even acknowledge the importance of the SUN....since you are all life-haters...and are in reality suicidal self-hating creatures, who worship a neo-god who also committed suicide....

It is not Merry Whatever as one of you sarcastic xians said, chagrined at Xmas no longer being as important or "real" as it once was considered to be. Dec 25th is again being acknowledged as one of the most important days of the year known for at least 5 millenium. But, no never mind...the suffering of your imaginary jesus and gawd have to be more important than all other religions or CELEBRATIONS OF LIFE...

Instead of celebrating life, you xians worship death and just can't wait to join this multiple-god trio including a "ghost"....in eternity...doing who knows what...how boring. OK then, I say...do it....Make the 25th of December the day that you join jesus....in heaven, or where ever your delusional and insane brain takes you. Since you are saved...then joining jesus in heaven...will be just a mere step into the harmonious, ever boring after world of your brainless religious invention.

In fact...use the 25th of December...to have cruci-fiction parties....get those crosses out, nail each other to the cross....SUFFER just like jesus did....my oh my what a role model you have chosen to worship i.e. some nearly naked, bloody, beaten up dead guy in a diaper hanging on a stick who intentionally committed suicide by cop (Roman Soldier)...

PS: I would never, ever ask or approve of anyone "dying for me," or "committing suicide" for any reason so I can go to some imaginary, unknown place in the sky...and I find an entire religion based on this "belief" out right insane. The backwards of mental hospitals are full of people like you...who have done various and hideous things to themselves and others in the name of god and jesus....including drowning all of their children in a bath tub because god told them to (Andrea Yates).

If you do a Google search, or go to YouTube.com....you can take lessons on how to drive nails into your palms and feet just like some nut case Filipinos do every year. They almost got it right...problem is they don't hang on the stick long enough to end up like jesus...they just do it for only a short time, long enough to get enough attention from the crowds to satisfy their sick egoes.

Oh yeah, even you dumb xians don't even get cruci-fiction right...in real cruci-fictions by the Romans, nails were driven through the wrists....not the hands, because the many, small bones in the hand can separate by supporting the weight of the body, causing the crucified to fall off the cross and just hang upside down by their feet and flop around like a gaffed fish....so do it right...drive those Christian Nails right through the wrists...and hang there...and see if god saves you. And the more you suffer, you will know that this is what jesus wants you to do...so do it. Show us your love, show us how much you are suffering for us. Jesus is going to be so proud.

In the 21st Century....christianity is right up there with other bizarre practices, such as female genital mutilation, piercing nipples, lips, eye brows, noses, tongues, and other parts of the genitalia, or tatooing "Mother" across one's back...and other defacements of the human body. And, such practices are all supremely painful...making the sufferer "feel" as if they are doing something really unique, worthwhile, and wonderful...so join them, start nailing each other to the cross every year. Get on with your orgy of suffering "for us," and...do it right, after all jesus did it, so, why you too?

Just how much you xians hate yourselves and are willing to suffer because of self-hate, including hate for all of human life (the sin of carnality) depends on how hypocritical the xian is in reality. Real xians can't wait to die. You xians state frequently, that you are "born sinners"...you are born evil, you are not even worthy of kissing the hem of jesus "dress,"

And,...the rest of you fake your self hate, when in reality, you are full of narcisscistic, hysterical, egotistic need to dominate others, and psychologically use blackmail, extortion and threats, including instilling guilt and shame to manipulate other unsophisticated, and vulnerable human beings. Therefore, to better "sell" xianity like used car salesmen,using the most base emotions and manipulations, you xians need to crucify yourselves as a witness to your "faith" and an example of how much "christian love" means.

In reality, whereby you xians then want the rest of us to worship your suffering....its all about YOU...and getting attention. Afterall, the word "christian" means little christ...so be a little christ and crucify yourselves just like jesus did. Show us by example....what we should do, show us your love.

Xianity is all about insecurity, fear, lack of self esteem or a sense of worth of your own life and the life of others...Your religion is an example of the LUDDITE fear of progress, and the need to self destruct into annialistic mindlessness of which you just think you are going to enjoy---Forever.

Freud and other philosophers of psychology have noted there are two main drives in human beings...the drive to Live, and the drive to Die....The Christian Religion has taken the drive to DIE and encased it in an art form and an orgy of self hate, and the worship of suicide and self mutilation....well OK then...stop whining around telling everyone we should be just like you...show us by example, what you really worship and believe.

Every one of you xians...should re-enact the cruci-fiction on yourselves....show us how much you love and emulate jesus...jesus is afterall, the example you follow, so do it...crucify yourselves.

I can't wait...be sure to get someone to take pictures or a video and put it on YouTube.com...don't let the Filipinos be better xians then you.

Judy Weismonger--Atheist Activist Against Religious Insanity

Miss Mickey said...

Oh, Exterminator, BRAVO! What a charming, fun read that was - it should be made into a movie.

I'm curious about how you learned that your fake snoring hadn't been fooling anyone. :o)

The Exterminator said...

tina:
Your kids were pretty smart not to let the cat out of the bag. They probably got more loot each year with you thinking that they believed in Santa Claus.

C.L.:
Irving Berlin sort of cornered the market in songs to Yiddishize Christian holidays. He turned Easter into a holiday about hats.

Jody:
Thanks for taking the time to leave a completely unrelated comment on this post. Fucking brilliant.

Miss Mickey:
I figured out that my fake snoring was not fooling anyone because my mother would always bait me by saying something that would make me "wake up" suddenly. She might say to my father, Hey, did you notice our son's pajamas are on backwards, or I don't think anyone will care that the TV is broken, do you?

John Evo said...

Thanks for taking the time to leave a completely unrelated comment on this post. Fucking brilliant.

The UCLA Bruins have been rounding into form and look like the same team that has made it to the NCAA Final Four three straight years. Despite the fact that they are top-heavy with first year players, they seem poised to take the PAC 10 again and move on to another run to the Championship.

Incidentally, Obama is apparently going to make the global warming a key component in his new administrations efforts, as he feels that that he can can simultaneously help the environment, and help create a wide array of new jobs for Americans.

Oh, and Happy Winter Holidays to the all members of the Exterminator family.

P.S. - Did I tell you that I finally read "The Diversity of Life", by E.O. Wilson and that it was better than it seemed when I first started reading and that I'm moving on to the novel "The Reader", which is now a major motion picture staring Kate Winslet?

The Exterminator said...

Evo:
By the way, the Poles were the first ones to break the Enigma code, way before the beginning of World War II. That was because they had secret information being fed to them by the British and the French, both of whom thought it was a waste of time to bother struggling over an "unbreakable" cipher.

I'm assuming that your comment was written in code, too. So I've sent it along to a couple of Polish friends. Although they've managed to figure out that your message is about foods you've eaten during the holiday season (apparently "UCLA Bruins" is ciphertext for "pasteles," and "Kate Winslet," as any idiot can see, becomes "guanabanas"), they're completely baffled by the phrase "Happy Winter Holidays." What they've managed to get so far is "_arw_n." Is that right?

Sarge said...

Sir, I own myself to be blown away.

You could write a memoir that would, well, actually DOES to my mind, rank up there with Gene Shepherd and Sam Levinson.

DAMN that's good!

The Exterminator said...

Sarge:
I'm very flattered that you'd compare my work to Jean Shepherd's. He was one of my earliest writing heroes. I really did buy Playboy for the articles whenever one of his stories was in it. (Of course, I didn't mind that his tales appeared in such a friendly environment.)

I hope Sargemas was lots of fun for you, with plenty of good music, food, and puns -- although not necessarily in that order.

John Evo said...

Yeah - Happy Sargemas, indeed.

And your Poles were right on the edge of deciphering "Happy winter holidays"... so CLOSE!

cl said...

I enjoyed this story more than I can really articulate, but I guess rich would be the word that sums it up best. Perfect flow, kept me laughing, educational, the whole nine. That on top of the fact it was as long as Judy what's-her-name's, but unlike with hers, I simply could not stop myself from reading. Hadn't heard the word 'conniption' in years, and you made me feel a little slice of what it was like to grow up in your household. And all of this stands even if you rip me a new one.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I think "this" is just a video game. The person pulling the strings, I guess that that could be God. Of course, there could be another god pulling his strings. An infinite regress of gods, perhaps.

the chaplain said...

Sometimes it feels more like a pinball game.

Judy Weismonger said...

What proof does any christian have that a god exists...other than that which comes out of their own imagination?

This imaginary god cannot do anything. Studies have shown that prayer does not work, faith based programs do not work, prayer does not cure, being a christian or religious does not make one better, superior, more moral...or any such claims. In fact, 95% of a criminals and felons in prison claim to have been a 'born again christian' before being arrested.

In fact, felons in prison faith based programs have a harder time of adjustment, commit more infractions, and when released are arrested quicker for second crimes (higher recidivism rates)...

So, what is the point of religion, other than the believer is bamboozled into believing he or she is superior...and their arrogance, and "belief" they can dictate to government rules and other citizens...is pure mythical and the foundation of dictatorships.

For this planet to be saved, by using logick, science, reason, reality, proof, evidence, and "normal" realistic emotions...religion is going to have to be removed off this planet.

Religion has caused all the poverty, war, overpopulation, and lack of progress since religion became a function of the the imagination. It is time to use the imagination as what it is....not real, but something that can be useful, if one "realizes" that the imagination proves nothing.

Religion is nothing more than "magic," and we all know that magic does not exist...however, the religious believe just as much in magic, and a 5 year truly believes that a magician can magically pull a rabbit out of a hat.

What is the difference in a 5 year old child believing Santa Claus is just as real as "jesus?"

Nothing. It is time to separate fact from fantasy, and reality from myth. Religion serves no purpose in the 21st century, but to confuse and make people sound and act insane.

For the life of me I cannot understand how people can talk to something that isn't there...as if it is real.

The Exterminator said...

Thanks for leaving your comment, Judy. Your sharp, original insights have made me decide to become an atheist.

Steve Bowen said...

Very entertaining post. Odd how your Dad ked xmas trees with Jesus though. They're as pagan as they come.

PhillyChief said...

During the 40s, as the story goes, someone in the house was brave enough to get a tree and set it up in the living room for X-mas but when my grandfather came home and saw it, he blew a gasket, dragged it outside to the curb and proceeded to stomp up and down on it. He wasn't going to have some pagan devil tree in his house.

I think of this whenever I hear people say, "it's a CHRISTMAS tree, not a holiday tree".

The Exterminator said...

Steve:
Thanks for the information. I'll let my dad know.

heather said...

Can i be the first to tell you you are number something on the top most popular atheist blogs.
And you haven't even posted for months. :-)
I haven't put the URL in but I will shortly

heather said...

http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/02/0javascript:void(0)9/the-30-most-popular-atheist-blogs/

Judy Weismonger said...

In one of the forums on religion and Atheism, we are disputing religion because for many reasons.

In one of the most absurd apologetics I have ever heard in my entire life, one Christian has stated that because the writers of the bible knew that "rabbits chewed" their cuds....that proves the bible is real.

In this forum, are scientists, doctors, PhDs of all kinds including myself...and the incredible ignorance of the Christians continues to astound us. However, it is not just the "ignorance" we are observing, it is the "mind states" of the religious that we study.

We are attempting to discover the depth of religious insanity...to the point that such factual errors such as the bible states: the earth is flat, the sun revolves around the earth, the earth is held down by mountains, stars are from lights who shine down from holes poked in the ceiling of heaven...and the most ridiculous one--rabbits are portrayed as "ruminants" and "chew their cud." This latter statement proves to the religious that the ancient writers of the bible were given this knowledge by god and ergo the bible is "perfect."

This is perfect nonsense of the most egregious kind. To wit: Not only does a rabbit not chew a "cud"...but it does not have cloven (split hooves)...However, the bible says that rabbits have cloven hooves, and that it chews a cud.

Why one must ask, are the brains of the religious so "different" that they do not have enough common sense to merely look something up if it is factual...and then correct the bible?

What is the point of religion attempting to reinforce a 2000 year old hoax and a fraud, which then the religious expect nonbelievers to suddenly jump for joy and convert to Christianity or any other unfounded religion?

The more we observe the religious and what kinds of irrational brain changes religion imposes on the mind, the more we know that religion is no different than any other kind of brain damaged caused by exposure to toxins, head injuries, sustained drug use, or a brain tumor.

I would not care what the religious thought or believed...but they vote, and part of their religion is to "force" the rest of us to believe in religious magic and myth.

Gideon said...

And they think I'm long-winded!

Anonymous said...

I believe in the One True David Bowie, a force more dark and sinister than Satan Himself. Who wouldn't want to sell their soul to a dude who danced with Muppets?

Yan Naing said...

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

elbuho said...

I stumbled upon this blog today, loved the Horton poem and this beautiful Christmas tale. Sad to see there have been no updates since - are you ok Exterminator?

The Exterminator said...

elbuho:
I'm glad you've enjoyed reading some of my work. Yes, I'm fine. I've just reevaluated my position on writing for free.

elbuho said...

Fair enough. Thanks for all the free stuff on this blog. Where can we find your published material?

tina FCD said...

Hey man, I miss your posts. :)

tina FCD said...

Weird, when I think of my mom (she passed away recently) I think of your help in coping with the problems of dealing with my family members. Happy Holidays to you.

Lineu, o Ateu said...

Hi, we have twin blogs! I imagine you don´t read portuguese but both blogs are atheist and look the same! Congratulations...
www.lineuoateu.blogspot.com

Robert said...

Hi,

My name is Rev Robert Wright, Editor for Christian.com, a social network made specifically for Christians, by Christians. We embarked on this endeavor to offer the entire Christian community an outlet to join together and better spread the good word of Christianity. Christian.com has many great features like Christian TV, prayer requests, finding a church, receiving church updates and advice. We have emailed you to collaborate with you and your blog to help spread the good word of Christianity. I look forward to your response regarding this matter. Thanks!


Rev. Robert Wright
rev.robertwright@gmail.com
www.christian.com

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