Xmas. When I first started working at a certain financial institution long ago, the bank had a laughably archaic form of e-mail called "Wiz-Mail" which was extremely limited in how communications could be laid out and how many characters could be entered on a line. To facilitate a communication about holiday hours, one of my colleagues referred to Christmas as "Xmas", and sent the missive without a second thought. He got a furious reply from a teller who received it, accusing him of "taking the Christ out of Christmas." That phrase has stayed with me, and after careful consideration I have concluded that I am not only in favor of taking the Christ out of Christmas, but out of Christianity in general. By that, I mean the hocus pocus that was plugged into the business model to give it some teeth to fence riders who like their philosophy with some fire and brimstone: the virgin birth (good gawd, why are we so obsessed with that?), the water-into-wine, the walking on water, the resurrection (that's right; I'm telling you on Xmas Eve that the resurrection never happened; Jonny calls `em as he sees `em). Take that black magic nonsense out of the mix and what you've got left are some very simple yet workable ground rules which, if followed, can result in a really first-rate human being: follow God (whatever that word means to you), don't get too caught up in material possessions, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. I think Christianity is a shell game perpetuated by Corporate America but if Jesus were with us right now, I would be among the first to say to him "your ideas intrigue me; tell me more."

And a Merry Xmas to each and every one of you.