Diary: “The moral and aesthetic nightmare of Christmas,” by the late, great Christopher Hitchens


In 2021, I pleased the local powers-that-be by allowing the NA Confidential blog to run its course, and by doing so, liberated myself from the prevailing cliquish inanity characterizing big fish-small pond Nawbany.

Those long hours previously spent observing the fix-is-in, political patronage-powered city council, redevelopment and bored of works meetings? They were instead devoted to self-improvement, not abasement. I read books, listened to music, went for walks and bike rides, and tried to become a better human being.

Too bad Christopher Hitchens never made it here to visit. Hitchens’ commentary on the topic of Gahanist political squalor and moral corruption would have been delightful, and I miss his presence on the planet’s polemical scene.

Christmas always provides a chance to shine a rightful spotlight on Hitchens’ invective, and so I propose to resume the annual blog ritual of linking to the writer’s timeless essay at Slate, where you can read the whole, glorious piece. It was first noted at NAC in 2008, and speaking only for myself, rereading the essay has become a Christmas Eve tradition.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here’s the main course for the holiday.

‘Tis the Season To Be Incredulous: The moral and aesthetic nightmare of Christmas, by Christopher Hitchens (Slate; Dec. 15, 2008)

…My own wish is more ambitious: to write an anti-Christmas column that becomes fiercer every year while remaining, in essence, the same. The core objection, which I restate every December at about this time, is that for almost a whole month, the United States—a country constitutionally based on a separation between church and state—turns itself into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a one-party state.

As in such dismal banana republics, the dreary, sinister thing is that the official propaganda is inescapable. You go to a train station or an airport, and the image and the music of the Dear Leader are everywhere. You go to a more private place, such as a doctor’s office or a store or a restaurant, and the identical tinny, maddening, repetitive ululations are to be heard. So, unless you are fortunate, are the same cheap and mass-produced images and pictures, from snowmen to cribs to reindeer. It becomes more than usually odious to switch on the radio and the television, because certain officially determined “themes” have been programmed into the system. Most objectionable of all, the fanatics force your children to observe the Dear Leader’s birthday, and so (this being the especial hallmark of the totalitarian state) you cannot bar your own private door to the hectoring, incessant noise, but must have it literally brought home to you by your offspring. Time that is supposed to be devoted to education is devoted instead to the celebration of mythical events…