In my family, Christmas has always represented drinking until all hours at an uncle's Christmas Eve party, then drinking bloody marys and eating chopped liver while the young cousins open presents at our grandmother's house the next morning. The moral and aestehtic nightmare of Christmas, for real? One would think that an old commie atheist like Hitch would celebrate the banalization of holiday-time sentiment, the replacement of Jesus with Santa, the restorative paganism of it all. Increasingly, public observance does resemble Saturnalia--a holiday of excess and general merrymaking. This, I propose, is a good thing. Without being too mawkish about it, it seems to me that when a society turns the somber celebration of its predominant hocus-pocus messiah cults into a post-ecumenical seasonal gift-giving festival, well, it's a bright spot in an otherwise dour time for a civilization. Yes, the ubiquity of tinny Christmas Carols is annoying; no, emphatically no, it is not the same thing as murals of Dear Leader on every wall. I mean, I like to hit the bottle from time to time myself, but I try to keep my drunken stumbles through the mall, muttering that Santa Claus is the new Pol Pot, to myself.