It occurs to me that an atheist cannot truly celebrate "Thanksgiving." Thanksgiving (the noun, not the holiday) implicitly implies some person or entity TO WHOM thanks is being given. Historically, there is no doubt that "we" are thanking God (apparently Lincoln and FDR didn't get the memo about the "wall of separation between Church and State"), but regardless, we are thanking Mother Nature or SOMETHING or SOMEONE for the gifts that we individually or collectively have benefited from - generally without meriting them. For example, natural resources, good health, a supporting family and friends, the Food & Drug Administration, and so on. To give "thanks" without having anyone or anything to give thanks TO, is absurd. But can we wish "Merry Christmas" (or its equivalent) to an atheist? Emphatically, YES! Christmas, in American culture, is actually TWO separate celebrations, one religious and one secular. One is the celebration of the Nativity (the birth of the God-man known to us as Jesus Christ), and the secular celebration comes down to us from the Roman celebration of the winter solstice. We celebrate Christmas (holy day) by prayer and remembrance; we celebrate Christmas (secular holiday) with a decorated tree, gift giving, over-indulgence in food and drink, and so forth. Unfortunately, both of these celebrations occur on the same day, and have come to have the same name - "Christmas" - a name which has profoundly religious overtones to which some non-Christian people rightly take exception. To those people, I say, "Lighten up." After all, non-Christians have learned to tolerate living in places called, "The City of Our Lady - Queen of the Angels" (Los Angeles), "Saint Francis" (San Francisco), and "The Body of Christ" (Corpus Christi). Deal with it. Also, the figure at the vortex of the secular celebration is at least by title, a Christian "Saint." Santa Claus. Again, there is nothing religious about his role in the secular holiday, so I would say that non-believers should just ignore the name and continue to leave him milk and cookies on the eve of the Winter Solstice. It is also unfortunate that unthinking people try to meld these two very distinct celebrations into one observation. They put a figure of the heralding Angel or a Star of David on the top of the Christmas Tree, or carefully place a creche beneath its lower limbs. And they argue about whether it is a religious holiday or a crass and destructive commercial extravaganza. It's both. If I were Emperor of the United States, I would separate the two holidays and designate a national holiday called the "Winter Solstice" on December 21, and leave it up to Christians to celebrate the Nativity on the 25th in the manner of their own choosing. Employers, both public and private, would have to honor the W.S. holiday, but only private sector employers could also recognize the 25th, according to their own principles and union contracts. Government workers would have to work on the Nativity, or take PTO. By all means, I wish all of you reading this a happy Thanksgiving, a festive ("merry") Winter Solstice holiday, and if you are so inclined, an appropriately holy celebration of the Nativity. And don't get them confused.