Friday, December 19, 2008

Godless Atheist Christmas Cards

It's that time of year again -- Christmas card season. Every solstice, the cards come flooding in and every solstice, admit it, you pass judgment on them. Here (excerpted from a letter by her cousin John Saunders; Margot was Hope's sister) is how Hope Mirrlees handled the annual tradition that she called the “ceremony of the Christmas Cards”:

Hope made Margot accompany her along the lines of rows of cards on display. One by one they categorised them. Most (including mine) were dismissed a ‘HIDGEOUS’. A few were deemed ‘nicely, nicely’. The gems of the collection, generally featuring Rob Red Breasts, were given the highest accolade, ‘FRABJOUS’. Margot acted as a moderate moderator, apparently knowing ‘the rules’ but generally trying to raise rather than lower Hope’s classifications.

In my household, we have a yearly competition for the most Godless Atheist Christmas Card -- the one with absolutely no tint of religion or spirituality whatsoever. Indeed, it often goes into negative territory.

Traditionally, Couple A (not their real name) have dominated the competition with their homemade cards featuring grim and unseasonal artwork in no way relating to any of the religions which I'm pretty sure they disapprove of without reservation. They've been given a run for the money in recent years, however, by Couple B. Not long ago, the Bs sent us a card of their younger selves protesting a pre-W appearance by John Ashcroft, with the cheery holiday slogan: WE TRIED TO WARN YOU.

"We've got a winner!" I crowed when that came in. But then, the very next day the As' card arrived -- and the artwork was dominated by a portrait of Lenin.

This year Couple B has rather let down the side by sending a card with a winter meadow over which hang bright galaxies in the night sky. Beauty in winter night is inherently spiritual, and so the card has been dropped from the running.

Jason Van Hollander, meanwhile, has made a strong bid with a card featuring his artwork of skeleton people frolicking happily in Medieval settings, with the greeting: HAPPY HORROR-DAYS. However, the Totentanz is in its origins essentially religious, so I believe his card may yet be bested.

We're still awaiting this year's card from Couple A.



Crash Random said...

I think a picture of the empty silent spaces that terrified Pascal should count as Godless and Atheistic.

Michael Swanwick said...

Yes, but hard to photograph! Or to paint. Though Thomas Kincaid comes close.