Nativity scenes on your neighbor's front lawn. Subliminal crosses in campaign commercials. Christian symbolism has seeped into every aspect of a once secular holiday, blurring the line between Church and State beyond all recognition. Just as it was during the Holy Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, those who dare dissent against the American Taliban's evangelical stranglehold on Christmas face angry letters to the editor, or worse. Born out of fear of such hate-fueled violence, the entire Chomstein family retreats every year to the remote Bellingham cabin of our morbidly obese Uncle Karl to celebrate the Winter Holiday Yulefest as the Founding Fathers intended - free from the iron fist of religious zealotry and stoned out of our gourds on hallucinogenic fungi.
According to tradition, the eldest and wisest Chomstein is expected to deliver an inspiring speech each Winter Holiday Yulefest Day, but since I am usually the only one who can still speak coherently, the honor typically falls to me. Bad weather and painful memories of mother's problem flatulence made for a poor turn-out this year, but those Chomsteins who managed show up snuggled together by the warm glow of Uncle Karl's lava lamps for an evening of breathtakingly inspirational oratories courtesy of yours truly.
"First of all," I began, "words cannot express my heartfelt sorrow over Granny Chomstein's absence from our gathering this year. But as you all know, the old bat is one of those right-wing nutjobs who would rather spend the holiday in church than here with those who truly love her. And it's a shame, really, because if there's anything that unites and binds us together as a family on this Winter Holiday Yulefest, it's --- "
A gasp of horror filled the room.
"Who said that?" I demanded, glaring out at the sea of pasty white and conspicuously inbred faces before me. No one came forward, so I plodded on with my speech.
"I was going to say LOVE! Love brings us together as a family. And what is this very special day about, if not -- "
"JESUS! JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOR!"
"GODDAMMIT!" I screamed, slamming my fist down on the large cable spool that Uncle Karl cleverly transformed into a coffee table. "WHO KEEPS INJECTING RELIGION INTO MY WINTER HOLIDAY YULEFEST?"
"Sorry, Lar," Uncle Karl sheepishly fessed up. "It's that stupid parrot you gave me last Winter Holiday Yulefest. You know, the one you trained to say 'Downing Street Memo! Downing Street Memo!' every five minutes? I kind of left the TV on during that awful Charlie Brown Special and I guess he picked up some annoying habits."
"Isn't there anything you can do?" I pleaded.
Uncle Karl shook his head. "I'd get up and kill him, but I got this whole 'morbidly obese' thing going on."
"Nevermind. There's no reason an innocent bird should die for Charles' Schultz's mistakes. I'll just try to finish my Christmas spee--"
Cousin Jerry Chomstein awoke from his Jenkem coma with a wild shout and frantically pressed his palms over his ears. 'THE WORD THAT MUST NOT BE SPOKEN!!!!"
"Sorry, Jerry," I apologized. "Winter Holiday Yulefest. Now may I PLEASE continue?"
Jerry nodded off again in reply.
"Thank you. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that it's LOVE that binds us together as a family, and it is about LOVE that this day is celebrated. But love for what? Material possessions? A brand new iPod or the the latest video game console? Of course not. We gather here today to celebrate our love for - "
"JESUS!!! BABY JESUS IN A MANGER!!!!"
"SHUDDAP, You STUPID F**KING PIGEON!!!" Uncle Karl wheezed through his seventeen chins.
"STUPID?" I screeched. "YOU THINK MY WINTER HOLIDAY YULEFEST PRESENT TO YOU IS STUPID?"
'HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING!!!! SQUAAAAAWK!!!! GLORY TO THE NEW BORN KING!!! SQUAWWWWWWKKK!!!!"
And so it came to be that the final few progressive Chomsteins were driven from their last remaining stronghold against the desecularization of Winter Holiday Yulefest by a proselytizing parrot - all except for Uncle Karl, whose massive ass has been permanently grafted to his sofa since the Carter administration.