Before the seasonal madness that we have manufactured as a substitute for what once was a religious holiday begins, I feel it would be a public service to present a defense of the anti-Christmas spirit which has been dubbed Scroogism by Dickens devotees.
Of course, this analysis is from a particular standpoint - that of an aged white male - which is a distinctly minority one since there are few people in their eighties who take the time to pick apart their feelings toward Christmas, especially the parts that don't involve smiling grandchildren, hot buttered rum next to a roaring fire and neckties.
Scrooge has been maligned constantly for his take on Christmas, summed up in the comment "Bah! Humbug!" I'd like to begin by stating that he probably was referring to the fact that Christmas was cutting into his business profits. Anything that's bad for business is bad, period. That was true then and it's still true today.
This leads to the first of common errors that postulates that people who against Christmas are necessarily against religion. Wrong. Christmas and religion have about as much in common these days as God and Wal-Mart. Black Friday is only Good Friday if the cash intake is bigger than last year's. In the contest between the manger and the North Pole, the Pole is going into the ninth inning with a ten-run lead. Being a Scrooge has nothing whatever to do with religion. It's a matter of practicality.
Take, for example, the matter of presents. I have nothing against presents, but what on earth is the sense of buying ribbon, paper, cute little tags and then spending an hour wrapping them up just so the whole lot can be ripped off and sent to the landfill? Why not just give the present, say "Merry Christmas" and go back to the hot buttered rum?
Also, Christmas presents an absolutely splendid opportunity for hypocrisy to take over your life. How many times have you bought a present for somebody not out of a sense of brotherly love, but out of a sense of duty? Or, worse, business. I know people who skimp on their families to buy presents for their boss, co-workers whom they wouldn't think of having dinner with and sometimes complete strangers who happen to be business associates.
Another facet of the holiday that tilts strongly in favor of the Scrooge viewpoint is the whole affair of Christmas cards. Sure, some of them are very funny and some even approach the original spirit of the holiday with messages of love, brotherhood, peace, etc. The majority, however - and check me on this - have to do with either your sexual stamina, your appetites or your wallet. Also, if you think about it, spending four or five bucks for a relatively small piece of stiff paper that could just as easily be replaced by a hand-written note on a Post-it seems more than a tad wasteful.
And don't forget the letters. Usually dupicated, perhaps with a note in longhand at the bottom, they're generally a list of honors won, promotions gained, cars bought, houses remodeled or social clubs joined by the sender, his or her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or in-laws. And, in case you still aren't impressed, they often include pictures. The fact that this is the only correspondence you get for a year is immaterial. Allegedly, this is to spread the Christmas spirit.
Yes, I believe Scrooge has a couple of good points. It's not the holiday itself, it's the myth that this is about anything beside the same commercial succeses that gave us Turkey Day, the Easter Bunny and Presidents' Day linen sales. Scrooge is only pointing out what making every precious thing into a profit opportunity does to a country. No wonder we distrust politicians, newspapers and each other. Look out for Number One! The Bottom Line!! The "Me" generation. Competition rather than cooperation. Bah! Humbug!!