Fuzzy Baby Jesus from a manger scene

Jesus Is Really Old Today

Happy birthday, our Lord and Savior! Can you believe you are 2,015 years old? Give or take a few years—that is a long time to keep counting. I know most of your existence has involved sitting at the right hand of God our Father, but those first 35 years were really precocious. That’s kind of all we remember down here. If people had had cameras in Roman times, there would be a hundred of you in a manger, thirty of you carpentering, and one of that Lazarus thing. We’re really proud of all you accomplished, but you were just so cute in that stable!

Since you last visited us, we’ve changed the usual birthday celebrations around a bit. It’s no longer a cake, some balloons, and a few presents. Instead of giving you gifts—I mean, we’ve kind of lost track of you, since you won’t join Facebook—we have decided to shower our own individual children with a large number of unnecessary toys, clothes, and electronics. We’ve tried to maintain tradition by making sure these all come from the Orient, however. I suppose we could consider giving to a church to promote your message, but that probably wouldn’t work. I mean, honestly, people would probably like to hear it straight from you—would you consider joining Twitter? Regardless, we’ve gone to a lot of trouble to convince children that an overweight elf will break into each and every house that considers itself part of the worldwide religious family of Christendom or its cultural heritage and leave at least several presents designed, with great individual care by comparatively malnourished seasonal elf workers, to delight them. We can’t possibly walk that back now. Besides, a lot of us get some poor kids socks and coats based on cards we find on sad-looking charity trees. That’s got to count for something.

And instead of balloons, we’ve gone with a green-and-red nature theme. We’ve erected the sacrificial remains of a pagan tree in the corners of our living rooms; wrestled itchy evergreen boughs into attractive peep-hole accents; and hung holly, ivy, mistletoe, fir, pine, spruce, azalea, and poison sumac along doorframes and mantles. If you haven’t noticed, we don’t know much about plants these days. In fact, we’re actually rather afraid of them. That’s probably why many people sensibly choose imitation sacrificial trees on which to hang their childhood craft projects and souvenirs from the Christmas store at the beach. This is all in keeping with the festivals of ancient German barbarians, whom we taught to be thoroughly Christian.

We’ve also decided to light up the entire troposphere. I don’t know how it is where you are—I guess pretty bright (really, just send something—anything—as an email attachment)—but down here, it gets dark at like 4:30. Without plenty of extra lighting, we can’t see our tree shrines slowly experience rigor mortis through the reflections in our gaudy vacation ornaments (a beautiful sight). And unless the entire outdoors is illuminated with strings of icicle-mimicking floodlights, we’re scared we’ll run into a tree when we drive to the mall for one last additional unnecessary thing for our under-stimulated children. Or that a tree will grab us, pull us beneath their gnarled and disgusting roots, and slowly digest us over a hundred years. Again, plants confuse us. Some of us also put electric candles (“light bulbs”) in our windows, just to warn the trees against coming in, as was first wisely practiced during Saturnalia.

Finally, once we’ve carefully shopped for gifts intended to spread a message of joy (“Hooray! I got something!”); told children that the fat magical northern saint-elf has sent one of his vitamin-deficient employees to sit on a shelf and spy on their behavior; and completed our ritual humiliation and intimidation of the encroaching forest, we take a little time to relax. We usually buy a few extra things for ourselves, take a couple of days off, and feast upon fattened poultry, mashed tubers, fattened swine, gluten, fatted calves, baked sweets, and definitely a salad tomorrow. It’s the Yuletide spirit. (Yule was the Norse goddess of wood-hacking.)

We hope you like all of this. Some of us think your birthday has lost its meaning, but anyone with any sense will be outraged by being wished “Happy Holidays.” Anyway, Merry Christmas! I guess that’s awkward to say to you. Maybe I should say “Happy Birthday?” I don’t know what you like anymore. If you could leave us a voicemail or even send a text, we could find up what you’re up to. It’d be nice to know.

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