We’re ‘planny’ folk here, so Festivus has never taken us by surprise. But it sure has changed, hasn’t it, in recent times. Being irreligious, we won’t be risking COVID-19 from the guilt-driven masses who trudge dutifully up to their local churches on their annual pilgrimage for forgiveness for a wanton year of self-indulgent meanness and debauchery. Side note: if you only top-up on your God once a year, wouldn’t that make the queue at the Christmas confessional really, really long, and really, really COVIDy?

“Bless me father for I have sinned.

Yes my child?

Well, in January I had lusty extramarital relations with a Norwegian backpacker–

Tsk! That will be two Hail–

–I’m not finished yet, pedo! February through June I cheated on my income taxes something chronic; April-May-June there was that gluttony thing; and ever since lockdown I’ve pretended to work from home but I was just tweetin lies on Twitter, sort of thing, so I guess there’s sloth as well. Sooo much sloth! And I grabbed some random on the pussy.”

You can imagine the queue getting restless, waiting for their turn to unburden themselves and wipe the slate clean ahead of a whole new year of sinning. A laundry-list of confessions and a turducken at home that won’t jump, seasoned and properly basted, into the oven all by itself.

Mmm turducken… anyway, much easier to be an atheist and keep your indiscretions where they belong. One thing I’ve wondered ever since meeting my first Catholic was whether they genuinely feel relieved of sin after confessing. The whole process reminds me of Chaucer’s Pardoner selling a chicken bone wrapped with a silk ribbon. Lucky for everyone that God doesn’t exist, otherwise I suspect there would be a few red-faces in The Last Queue before the pearly gates.

St Peter: “Admit it, you fucked up.

I admit nothing!

St Peter: “You lied and lied and lied and lied and-

— I DID NOT!

St Peter: In fact, you lie more often than you tell the truth. Do you even recognise the truth?

Look it’s totally under control, alright? It’s getting under control. Plus, it’s like totally harmless. Mostly harmless. It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle–it will disappear. What happens is, you get better. You get better, and then you’re immune. I’m immune to lying now. You can test me, you have tests and they’re beautiful, the tests knock it out in a minute. One minute! And is there a way we could do something like that now? It would be interesting to check that. I used it. I had no problem. They say ‘That’s amazing. How did you do that?’ and I do it because I have, like, because I’m cognitively there and I happen to be a believer.

St Peter: You’re lying right now!

Am not! Fake news! You’re the liar!

St Peter: “Get in the other queue.

No.

St Peter: I said, get in the OTHER queue!

NO!

Just imagine that shitfight. So when I occasionally slip-up and say ‘Merry Christmas!’ it’s not because I believe in Christ or Mass or St Peter before the pearly gates seeing through all your mortal shenanigans. I do believe in merriment, though, and wonder how much we’ll get this year. We can only do what we can, and spread it around as generously as possible. For me, there will be a little feast with (hopefully) four generations around the table. One thoughtful present each, except for the little elf, who’ll get buried in gifts.

Me? At least I’m not working. I’ll eat too much, drink too much, and happily unwrap the new hiking poles which I don’t know I’m getting even thought I bought them online myself. Better than getting some awful, unwanted piece of shit. Better for the planet, as well! And if it reduces microplastics and makes the dolphins merry, then I am merry too.

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