Well folks, its one heck of a day in Toronto today. For the first time this year the frost is nipping at our extremities, a white, crystalline blanket lays still across the grounds, and all through the sky little white specks of joy pirouette through the air, twisting and turning as they float to join their companions on the earth below. So, while some might call it jumping the gun (were still a few days shy of a month in advance), I see no better day to usher in this years Pagan Christmas Season! Now, you might think that Im trying to be ironic, satiric, funny, but the plain old truth is Im just being honest. I wasnt born with a drop of religious blood in my veins, and as such, Ill leave the opening of the Christian Christmas Season open to someone with the credentials for such a task. That said, Christian or no Christian, that time from late November to December the 25th (and even a short while after) is by far my favourite time of the year, and I am delighted to have it arrive with such zest here in Hogtown this year. I have nothing against the more traditional Christmas, in fact I hold it in much respect and obviously owe a lot to it. Im sure some Christians on this board will look down on me for corrupting what is a very sacred time of year for them. To these men and women, I ask for your understanding. I realize that to take the name of something named for Christ and celebrate it the way I do, is incredibly wrong, but I simply cannot help myself. My parents were raised in Christian households and grew up to be independent of religious institutions, but when December came, it had been such an integral part of their childhoods, that they could not help but pass it on to me, without the Church, the prayer, and everything that really makes Christian Christmas, Christmas. I acknowledge that my version of your festivities strays very far from what it was envisioned as, and for that I apologize. With that said, I hope that you can all embrace what Christmas means to me, and so many other non-Christians who were raised in a predominantly Christian culture. I do not think of this time as the consumer crazed orgy that shops and businesses envy. I certainly do enough shopping at this time to make them happy, but their widgets and gadgets arent what makes Christmas important to me. What makes Christmas Christmas to me is something that Im sure many here can relate to. Its about the togetherness; the happiness and having that one time of year, that whether by the carols on the radio, the decorations in the streets or just the general good nature of people this time of year, that makes Christmas Christmas to me. I love this time of year. I love the music, I love the sights, I love the atmosphere, I love how whether by my own mind or just something inherent about the season I see smiles everywhere I turn. I love the Christmas classic movies, I love the food, I love the family, I love how no matter what, it is the one time of year where I can count on seeing everyone close to me with a smile on their face and with a warm heart. So I hope that you dont begrudge me for stealing this time of year from you. In fact, I hope that there are enough of you who regardless of what this time might mean to you, can understand what this time means to me and can join together regardless of creed, regardless of history, and enjoy this time of year for what it has become for so many. As for my fellow godless heathens, I hope there are others out there who cherish this time of year as much as I do. For those of you that do not, I only hope that whether it is Christmas to you or not, that you catch the good spirit that is so contagious this time of year. It is probably a wonder to most of you why anyone would take the time to type out such a long, and seemingly pointless diatribe. Well, there are two reasons. One, I guess, in case you cant tell, I feel a little guilty for stealing something which I really have no right to for my own purposes. But more importantly, I write this to recall all the wonderful things that made me fall in love with this time of year in the first place, as I can think of no better way to herald in Christmastime than to reminisce over everything that has made this holiday so special to me and, hopefully, many others here. So, regardless of what you believe, practice, or hold faith in, my best wishes to all of you this Christmas season, and hopefully you all enjoy the next 33 days as much as I do.