Santa receives a cuddle from his little helper, a koala named Forest, from Cairns Tropical Zoo in Queensland, Australia Picture: Getty Images
Christmas is a face-off between people who are spiritual and people who are consumerist. The consumerists never call themselves that, they’re just really keen to let you know that they don’t believe in God. The spiritual ones never call themselves spiritual, they are just very anti-consumerist.
It’s the dialectic method of identity building: I hate crackers and piped music, ergo I am deep; I hate superstition and unprovable things, ergo I am fun. It’s like a zero-sum game in which the shops helpfully give the spiritualists something to kick against, and the churches, especially with their midnight shenanigans, give the consumerists something to laugh at.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave you much room for manoeuvre if you are both anti-consumerist and an atheist. Pretty much everything you say will deliver you into the hands of the wrong ally…