A lot more to Christmas than presents

So, what to do with the rest of Christmas Day once we’ve opened presents and before and after the mid-afternoon dinner?

No football because Christmas Day is on a Wednesday this year, and besides, even someone as invested in football as I thinks that playing and especially watching on Christmas Day might be a bit much. Besides, my wife and daughter would loudly kvetch.

So, it will be movies from Netflix or on Netflix instant through our amazing Roku thingy that allows us to watch streaming Netflix on the TV instead of the laptop.

And this year, after a hiatus of a few years, I think we shall return to “Nicholas Nickleby,” with Charlie Hunnam as Nick.

And now I can hear all of you fans of “Sons of Anarchy” bellowing:

“What? You mean there are two Charlie Hunnams?”

Well … no.

Hard as this might be to fathom, the Charlie Hunnam who plays Nicholas Nickleby, that good boy who takes care of his mom and sister and stands for truth, justice and the Dickens-Old Blighty way, is the same Charlie Hunnam who plays Jax Teller and guns down members of rival gangs and sells weapons to other gangs. By the way, he sometimes takes care of his mother, but sometimes thinks it might be a good idea to kill her (understandable given that Mom is played by Katey Sagal who was once Peg on “Married with Children,” the second best satire in the history of TV after “Blackadder.”).

Yes, that Charlie Hunnam. Needless to say that on Christmas Day, we will not be watching “Sons of Anarchy” or “Dexter” or any of the other weird things my daughter and I like, but that my wife refuses to acknowledge exist.

As usual, as I’m sure is the case with you, the question of what to have for dinner arises. Because Sara is coming, it will be vegetarian and Kathy has decided she wants ravioli from The Good Loaf in Milford, which I probably shouldn’t tell you because now you’ll run out and buy it all. They have some great choices and usually plenty of them, so kindly leave some for us.

Kathy will make the sauce; she’s a stickler for proper sauce.

And I will make an Italian soup I’m stealing from Jamie Oliver’s Italian cookbook that our friend Susan bought for us under the mistaken impression that I am actually competent to make things out of such books. Susan is; with me, it’s take a shot at the recipe, substitute oil for butter or lard and hope for the best.

Although I am not a religious person – neither are Kathy and Sara – I am a great fan of Christmas and acknowledge with no qualms that it is absolutely Christian in nature and this has nothing to do with being brought up Catholic. It has to do with logic. Had there been no Jesus, there would be no Christmas. Now I suppose that because Jesus was Jewish and, really, never stopped being Jewish, we could argue that it is also a Jewish holiday, but I think that would be a specious argument that couldn’t be won.

No, Christmas came into being because the followers of Jesus started a religion that, for its time, was radical and subversive. It certainly ticked off the Romans and the Sanhedrin.

Historically, you have to wonder what might have happened had the Romans and the Jewish leaders not overreacted to the doings of what was really a small band of believers. Suppose they had just ignored Jesus?

“Go ahead, throw the money lenders out of the temple. Who cares? We’ll just set up shop across the street in that … what is that? A Starbucks?”

Want to bet no one would have offered Judas a nickle?

“Listen, I know where you can find that rabble rouser Jesus.”

“Yawn. Not interested. Tell him to have a nice life. And you, too.”

Of course, poor Barabbas wouldn’t have made out so well.

And what would Andrew Lloyd Webber have done?

But the Romans, being dictators and therefore basically arrogant, and the Jewish leaders, fearful and desperate to hold onto their positions, overreacted.

Jesus died. The nuns in catechism class always told us that Jesus died for our sins but the way they put it, to wit, “Jesus died for your sins,” pretty much convinced me they were referring to me alone, not mankind, which might explain the guilt I’ve carried all these years.

Jesus died, and the disciples went on to create Christianity in his name and thanks to them (and the stupidity of the Romans and the Sanhedrin), we get to celebrate Christmas.

Even those of us who are not religious can appreciate that.