The deliberations over this year's Godless Atheist Christmas Card were prolonged and fierce. As mentioned in Part 1, cards consisting of photos of happy family members (mostly children), were, after much esoteric discussion (is a heart truly a religious symbol? does a snowflake reference Christmas or merely the fact that winter is cold?), it was decided to eliminate the category en masse.
The cards were, yes, atheistic, but it seemed cruel to hold that against them when they were all about love of family.
(I should pause here to comment on how hard it was to rule out any of this year’s cards. My sister Mary, for example, sent a card with a painting of a Roanoke roadhouse. One that in my opinion sent the cheerful holiday message, “I believe I’ll have a hamburger.” I was overruled, however, on the grounds that the joint “bespeaks hospitality” and that hospitality fits right into the season. This is how low we had to stoop to eliminate cards from our consideration!)
Then we came to this card, from a friend in Moscow:
A stunned silence fell over the distinguished Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family. At last somebody said, "Let's just chalk this one up to the eternal mystery of the Russian soul." Rather than deal with the religious content of a jolly Russian Santa-bear, all immediately agreed.
Then came the question of corporate Christmas cards. Two of which are shown below:
Obviously, branding is not in the spirit of the religious holiday season. For which reason, the Asimov's/Analog card immediately went to the top of the heap for including two corporate logos into its design.
But what sent the cards as a category right to the top of the heap was the fact that one included a coupon for 5% off of their product. "That's not even generous" crowed the junior member of the Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family. "I love it!!!"
Deeper into our Odyssey, we came upon two cards that in very similar way entered into the anti-spirit of the non-holiday. For sheer nihilism, it's hard to beat the top card showing an empty, lifeless wood in deep winter. There is not the least sense of a holy presence of any kind, not any hope that the unending winter will not stretch its way into infinity. This is a celebration of the heat death of the universe, and it simply takes the breath away.
As for the second card... “This sends the message that choosing the right religion isn’t as important as having the love of Man in your heart,” opined one member of the Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family. To which, another opined, “Even ‘Happy New Year’ was deemed too controversially religious. Now that’s Godless.”
"Wrong season!" somebody cried, and the rest all nodded. This card immediately went to the finals. The sender is a friend and a very talented artist. We're always glad to hear from him and grateful for the sample of his work, Nevertheless, nothing bespeaks an anxiety to avoid the holiday season as evoking an entirely different time of year.
At fist blush, the card from our friend Elizabeth eems to live at least next-door to the holiday spirit. There's a snowman smiling at a friendly-looking bird and in the background is what might be a snow-covered Mount Fuji.
Almost, this card was disqualified out of hand. But, just to be thorough, the Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family. opened the card and looked within. Where we found the following hand-written explanation:
The more lies the snowman tells, the shorter his note gets. And snowmen tell a lot of lies. Birds know everything -- they told me statues lie too, and that's why they're covered with poop.
It takes the breath away. The card immediately went to the top of the stack.
Finally, our friend Charlotte sent this card from New York City. Sending the message that one of our number neatly encapsulated as: “New York is small and the night is large. The only warmth is here, in the only city that matters. I wish you were here. But you’re not. You’re in the darkness.
In a lesser year, any of these cards might have won. But (SPOILER ALERT) none of them did. For among their worthy ranks were two giants of Godless Atheism, two cards that truly exemplified the anti-spirit of the nega-season.
Nor was it easy to choose between them. For the first time ever, the Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family was almost stymied. It was truly a battle of Titans.
But, as our television sets have wisely taught us, There Can Only Be One.
Next... that One is chosen.
And I owe apologies . . .
To everyone who checked the blog yesterday, expecting to find this post written and up, mea culpa. I can only plead laziness and irresponsibility.
It was perhaps overly optimistic to expect I'd write two blog posts on consecutive days. So, rather than compound my offense, I'll post the third and final part of this nail-biter of a contest on Friday.
This time for sure.