We could have waited for the 12 days of Christmas, but so many great Christmas-themed opinions are coming out early, so the Atlantic Wire is jumping the gun. (We've already covered the pro-shoplifting priest here, the anti-'Krustmas' ranter here, and the furious debate on whether Christmas can be "Godless" here.) What follows is the first of four posts (assuming we feel like keeping them up) of tender, strange, or curmudgeonly opinions counting down to Christmas. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, there's something to enjoy in each of these:

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  • 'Enjoy' the Video Above, says Alex Balk at The Awl. Balk teases the video with a lightly sarcastic promotion of "a guy whose Christmas display is apparently upsetting members of his community who don't think that the spirit of the season is best represented by Jesus gunning down Santa."
  • If You're Not Christian, 'Buzz Off' growls Garrison Keillor at the Baltimore Sun. Keillor, the famous public radio host of "Prairie Home Companion," is a happy anthropologist of Midwestern Lutherans. This Christmas season, a trip to Cambridge, Mass. left him feeling particularly grumpy. Why? He heard a secularized version of the hymn "Silent Night." His outburst was attention-grabbing: "Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone....Christmas is a Christian holiday - if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah."
  • Oh, Stop Complaining, snaps Gregory Rodriguez in the Los Angeles Times. " If there's one thing I dislike more than the rampant commercialization of Christmas, it's everybody complaining about the rampant commercialization of Christmas." Rodriguez dispels the myth of some spiritually-pure Christmas heyday, noting that Puritans once banned celebrations, and that schools used to convene on the 25th.
  • Minister to the Depressed, urges Jim Selman in the Huffington Post. Selman looks at the dark emotional underbelly of the season. Instead of giving gift baskets, he recommends giving conversation to the isolated and lonely: "Whatever the reasons, there is definitely a dark side to Christmas...Those who are living alone, in hospital or on the street can feel even more isolated and lonely during this supposedly festive time...More than anything, these people just want good conversation and someone to acknowledge them, to recognize and appreciate them and to let them know they are loved as they are."
  • Conservatives 'Conflate' the Infant Jesus With 'Wingnut Gonads' In a long, polemical exercise in logic, Amanda Marcotte at liberal blog Pandagon thumps conservatives who use Christmas to berate liberals, mangling the spirit of the holiday. Then she takes a step further, arguing that a conservative who feels the holiday has been 'neutered' has made a revealing admission: "Neutering, huh? The word we use when we talk about cutting off an animal's testicles?...In a way, the conflation of the baby Jesus with wingnut gonads makes sense...If we don't have nativity scenes where everyone stands around worshiping the baby Jesus/wingnut phallic symbol, then we've essentially emasculated them."