It's that most tragical time of the year once again, dear readers! Yes, the War on Christmas is here, guns a-blazing with holiday cheer, slaying bell ringers, and filling the talk radio airwaves with a toxic blend of indignation and misinformation.
Did you know there are no atheists in foxholes in the War on Christmas? That's because the War on Christmas doesn't have foxholes, and the real Army goes with the much more boring name "Defensive Fighting Position," because when you're actually being shot at, a hole in the ground needs to be done right.
There aren't any guns in the War on Christmas, though Kirk Cameron is apparently weaponizing the idea of commercializing anti-commercialism in a movie that is also a commercial for a thing (The War on Christmas) that isn't really a thing. However, he will totally beat your ass with a candy cane.
It's a metaphor for faith, okay?
You know what's not a metaphor suitable for Solstice-related complaints? War.
Holiday Headquarters: Godless Secular Humanist Division 3C
Sgt. Mann Slaughtermann strode the halls of the repurposed public school they'd holed up in since the beginning of the Nativity Offensive. The lights were dim, no one dared go out to the generator in daylight to refuel it, so the power was always barely on, flickering in the dark interior of shattered blackboards and the whimpering cries of the huddled secular Jews who'd made the mistake of signing on for the War. The War on Christmas.
Mann knelt down in the face of the nearest one. They were scrambling madly over the mangled leg of a poor 7th Day Adventist who'd thought that Christmas was a bit too "commercial."
"You're runnin' out of blood, kid." Slaughtermann said. "Tell me what happened."
"I don't know who's in charge, Sarge!" The kid cried, a bloody hand on Slaughtermann's already blood-spattered lapel. "Whoever it is, they're... they're... animals." He shuddered.
"Mannberg. Dirk Mannberg." Slaughtermann said. Mannberg had been head of the U.S. Strategic Quinoa Reserve before Christmas had fired back in the War on It.
"There was a bell ringer... kettle full of coins. And ...dynamite. He asked me if I would like to give... everything."
"This leg is worth 3.75." Slaughtermann said. "3.75 worth of vengeance." The kid shuddered one last time and bled out on the floor. Slaughterman pulled all 15 quarters from the corpse and flung them at the feet of the sobbing secularists. "Keep the change."
Slaughtermann spat on the floor. His spit had blood in it, for a reason he would have seen a doctor about if they hadn't firebombed every pharmacy for putting up Christmas decorations on November first. That "too soon" contingent had been brutal. Brutal, but effective.
Now Christmas was beginning in September, each merchant in an arms race with one another, each in a deadly race to avoid being last.
That, Slaughtermann realized, was why the poor Adventist hadn't made it to Advent. The Suicide Bell-Ringer had been starting the War on Christmas earlier, just like last year when they'd had to hurl hand grenades at a manger scene in Bethesda on December first.
"Maryland." He sighed, reminiscing on that land of debauchery and disbelief. There, the agnostics had been atheists, the Catholics had been agnostic, and the Baptists were only at war with Muslims because nobody understood how to properly have a war on Eid, because nobody knew when it was supposed to happen.
Slaughtermann wasn't even sure which Eid they'd been fighting against. There'd been two of them, they'd gotten everyone involved in some damnable holiday-war pincher maneuver.
"We know what we're fighting this time." He said apropos to nothing, addressing a gaggle of Universal Unitarian radicals who'd been arguing over who and what it was they'd been fighting, and why. They did not know what Mann Slaughtermann knew, they did not know what Dirk Mannberg knew.
The real reason for the War on Christmas.
Slaughtermann pointed out the window of the bombed out school auditorium where, two years ago, a line of kids had been beheaded to prevent a performance of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." There was a bullet-pocked pile of Christmas decorations, scorched and frayed by fire and shrapnel. The target nativity.
"What do you see?" He shouted. Mann Slaughtermann was always shouting. Everything, he knew, had to be shouted, or else people would think it was not important.
"A nativity?" One of the UU Extremists asked tentatively.
"Wrong, goddamnit!" Slaughtermann shouted. "What do you see?"
"Target practice?" One of the secular Jews asked. Slaughtermann grinned a wide grin that showed off teeth you could have used to dig through a glacier.
"Close, soldier, but that's not it. What do you see?"
"The enemy?" A passing atheist attempted her hand.
"Wrong. You are all wrong. You are all so wrong I should kill every one of you with a trenching shovel right now to prevent you from killing each other with friendly fire and wasting our goddamn ammunition. Look out there again, and tell me this: Christmas. Hanukkah. Quonset..."
"Don't you mean..." One of the Pentecostals started to say something, but Slaughtermann was holding a grenade in his hand and eying the pin with visible glee.
"What does it all mean? Why do we do it? Why do we fight?" Slaughtermann wanted to pull the pin, and all eyes were on the grenade, on the solid jaw as it worked back and forth, chewing up the anger and spitting it out as fighting words.
"Family? Spending time with family and friends?" The Pentecostal kid stammered out, pushing his luck.
"Horseshit and hand grenades!" Slaughtermann shouted, yanking the pin and hurling the grenade through the bombed out crater where the PA system had been in a happier time.
"That horseshit's not the real reason for the season! The real reason is axial tilt, you brain-dead blinded..."
"Surely you're referring to the ancient festival of Saturnalia..." The atheist from before began. A lot of conversations were being interrupted tonight. This would be the next to last.
Slaughtermann grabbed him. "That's what they want you to believe." He slapped the kid in the face.
"It's all about axial tilt. About Milankovitch cycles. Every time a family walks around a Christmas tree, every time a pilgrim makes a counterclockwise orbit around the Kaaba, they rob the Earth of angular momentum. Oh, sure, sure, now it's nothing. Yottaseconds. Picoseconds. Nanoseconds. The kind of time it takes to convince your mother to..."
The grenade went off. Everyone's ears were ringing, and not with the sort of bells that would from now on induce PTSD in all of them.
"...it adds up. It's what killed the dinosaurs. Motions synchronized over millions of years, changing the climate, ruining the world. It's why we fight, soldiers. To end these holidays before they end us."
Everyone realized that they'd followed madmen into a blind alley and were now shooting one another to death over the bricks at the back of it so they could use those bricks to brick themselves in.
And now, no one could get out. The epitaph of the species was written, and it was this:
Terrible holiday. Would not celebrate again. 2/5 stars.