I hate this time of year. I always have. My only consolation is that it's pretty much over after today.

I suppose I have a somewhat unique perspective. I've considered myself an atheist since I was 15, but before that I was a nominal Jew, so I've always been an outsider, especially when the Christmas season rolls around. Few people seem to actually enjoy it, with all the stress and work it involves, but they all pretend they do, and they get upset because I won't pay lip service. Everybody presumes everyone else is Christian (despite evidence to the contrary), or failing that, Jewish. And if you're not either, well, tough kumquats for you. You get sneers and indignant sniffs (and sometimes outright insults and degradation) as your dose of "Christian love".

I know I must sound really bitter. Maybe I am. If so, it's not without reason. I can give plenty of examples of the treatment I received, especially as a child, for failing to have the good manners to at least pretend to celebrate Christmas. For instance, in kindergarten (at a public school), I got detention for telling my classmates there was no Santa Claus. In first grade, I was excluded from music class because the teacher insisted on teaching very religious songs ("In a Manger" is the one I remember). In fourth grade I was given the choice of performing in a Christmas pageant or failing music. In sixth grade, I was manhandled by a teacher for trying to leave during another such pageant. And so on.

Mind you, I suppose I can't entirely blame people for assuming that I'm Christian. It's a natural assumption to make, since Christians are in the majority. But that doesn't make it less aggravating to be constantly bombarded with images and sounds and sentiments of a holiday I want no part of. In a way, it makes it worse - because everytime someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas" or asks if I'm going to church that day or if I've bought my presents yet, it reminds me just how invisible a minority I belong to.

Everyone's drunk on religion and commercialism. Why should I be punished for being sober?