John Hardin / @ 6:50 a.m. / Op-Ed

HARDIN: The True Meaning of Christmas


My partner, Amy Gustin, had a great idea the other day. This is not at all unusual for her. A lot of my columns begin with one of her great ideas, and this is one of them. The other day, Amy was perusing some books about the cave paintings at Lascaux and Chauvet while contemplating the flora and fauna of Ice Age Europe, and speculating about the Paleolithic origins of certain pagan European Christmas symbols, when she said this: “Environmentalists should take over Christmas.”

“What?” I replied. She explained that a lot of European pagan Christmas symbols celebrate the Boreal Forest and an arctic climate. We have Christmas trees. Christmas is the only time of year when snow is popular, and Santa lives at the North Pole and gets around on a sled pulled by caribou. All of these things remind us of the arctic, and they should remind us that the arctic is undergoing dramatic changes due to global climate change.

Can you think of a better symbol for global climate change than Santa Claus? First, he drives a zero-emission, carbon-neutral vehicle, and he’s been doing it for centuries. Second, everything Santa owns faces imminent destruction, unless we can stop the sea ice from shrinking. Santa, Mrs. Claus, all of the elves and the whole toy factory are headed straight for a watery grave at the bottom of the ocean unless we stop global warming now.

Suddenly Christmas made sense to me in a whole new way, and I knew I had to write about it. The global climate crisis is the biggest challenge we face as a species; it deserves our biggest holiday, especially since those Sciencism dorks took over Earth Day. Fuck them and their March for Science. The people who gave us nuclear proliferation and put 250 different persistent man-made toxins in every mother’s breast milk came out and walked all over Earth Day to tell us that scientists agree that global warming is a real phenomena, and by the way, go vaccinate your kids, eat your GMOs and have faith in Elon Musk’s space program. May the force be with you. Nanu Nanu.

We need Christmas if we are going to turn around the climate crisis. Forget about the baby Jesus and the Catholic Church’s first victim of sexual abuse. Jesus has always been a divisive figure, even as a baby, and nativity scenes often stir controversy. Who needs it? If you want to put out your creche, go ahead, just leave the holy family in the box. Go ahead and put out all of the animals. They’re the only parts anyone really likes about your creche anyway. Then go ahead and add a few more animals. Christmas is all about protecting biodiversity, so go wild on the animals.

Coca-Cola has done a great job of making the polar bear into a symbol of Christmas, and we should adopt that symbol wholeheartedly. Instead of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, put a mother polar bear and her two cubs in your nativity scene. I’m all for wise men, if you can find any, but how wise can your men be if they’re standing next to a hungry polar bear?

The global climate crisis effects everyone, and it’s time to make Christmas into a holiday for everyone. From now on, Christmas is about the North Pole and the gift of a stable climate. Being born doesn’t get you a holiday, in my book. Jesus has a holiday — it’s the one he lived and died for, and Christians should go ahead and do Easter big. But Christmas is too important to let Christians hog it to themselves. Besides, Christmas is better without Jesus.

We’ve still got Santa Claus, but now Christmas is about saving Santa. We’ve got reindeer and sleigh bells, snow and Christmas trees and we’ve got all of the animals coming together to help their friend the polar bear. We’ve got the Nutcracker to help us crack the nut of global climate change, and we can re-edit the Charlie Brown Christmas Special so that Linus’ big speech reflects the holiday’s bold new direction. Everything you love about Christmas will still be there for you, but now Christmas has a mission.

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John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.


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