By the way, I didn’t read the whole thing. Why should I? Lord knows you didn’t write the whole thing. Adam Bettcher / getty images

There's something I should probably come clean about at the start of this piece. I didn't read the whole thing—but why should I have to read the whole thing? Lord knows Sarah Palin didn't write the whole thing.

Another confession: I haven't even started to read the thing.

I've been carting Sarah Palin's new book around with me for weeks. My copy of Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas has accompanied me to work and to the gym and back home again. This book has been to bars in four states, it's been stuffed in the lockers of three gyms, it's been stowed under the seat in front of me on six flights—it's even been to a kink-world-famous dungeon in San Francisco that I recently toured for professional reasons. (You know how Jen Graves visits artists' studios and Bethany Jean Clement eats in nice restaurants? It was like that, just with hooks in the ceiling.)

About the only place this book hasn't been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that's about to change. Because I'm going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that's how long it takes for a batch of my mother's Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I'm going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more.

And I think it's fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote.

10–10:20 AM

Palin dedicates the book to her mother and father. "It's fun to watch you live like every day is Christmas," Palin writes on the dedication page. "Our world needs more of that."

Ma and Pa Palin don't "keep Christmas in their hearts" all year long, à la Dickens, they live every day like it's Christmas. And the world needs more of that? Really? Does it? I like Christmas—I love Christmas (my Christmas cookies are in the oven right now!)—but wouldn't it drain December 25 of all its specialness if you left the tree up 365 days a year? And every morning began with presents? And are Christmas-like levels of mass consumption sustainable on a daily basis?

Jesus. Look at me. I'm being ridiculous. I'm nitpicking. I haven't even gotten to the first page of the actual book and I'm arguing with Sarah Palin. And I just took the Lord's name in vain. This is the effect Palin has on liberals. She's the ultimate right-wing troll. And that's why Palin will never have to do an honest day's work again in her life.

Turning the page...

Here's a picture of Sarah Palin's grandson—who for a time was the most famous fetus on the planet (2008, Republican National Convention)—and a quote:

"'All this for me? And I wasn't even very good!'

—My grandson, Tripp Easton Mitchell [Johnston], upon seeing the presents beneath the Christmas tree, 2012"

All this for me—and I wasn't even that good. Translate that into Latin and it could be on the Palin family's coat of arms.

10:20–10:40 AM

Okay... I'm diving into the actual book. God help me.

Hey, it turns out that Sarah Palin and I have something in common: Sarah bakes for her family at Christmas. Me too! Sarah bakes cinnamon rolls on Christmas Day; I bake apple cakes. That's nice. Humanizing even. I have to say that, here on page 2, Palin is coming across as very nearly warm-blooded.

That didn't last.

Page 5: Here I learn something I didn't know and, if I were Sarah Palin, something I wouldn't want anyone to know. But Sarah hustles this fact to the front of the book because she sure as hell wants us to know it: Sarah surprised Todd with a "nice, needed, powerful gun" for Christmas in 2012. It was a "small act of civil disobedience," Palin writes, prompted by "the anti-gun chatter coming from Washington."

What was inspiring that anti-gun chatter in Washington in December of 2012? Oh, right: Twenty children and six teachers were shot dead in their classrooms by a deranged asshole with a "powerful gun." And before the grieving mothers and fathers of Newtown, Connecticut, could put their dead children in the ground, Sarah Palin ran out gun shopping. Buying Todd a gun in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was "fun," Palin writes—and, again, an act of "civil disobedience." Because gun nuts are a persecuted minority.

This paragraph about gun shopping in December of 2012—one first grader at Sandy Hook was shot 11 times—ends with Palin bragging about her tits. I'm not kidding.

Okay, I have to put the book down. I'm five pages into Good Tidings and Great Joy and... Jesus Fucking Christ... I have got to put down this toxic little shitstain of a book. I'm going to go wash my eyes out with hydrogen peroxide. Be right back.

11–11:20 AM

So...

I'm still deep in the weeds of the introduction, which is mostly about the special awesomeness that is a Palin Family Christmas: cinnamon buns in the oven, grandchildren playing in the snow, powerful guns and high-capacity ammo clips under the tree. But the Palin family's Christmas is in danger. Storm clouds are gathering. Sarah fears her family won't be able to "joyfully and openly celebrate" Christmas with fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and guns powerful enough to murder 20 first graders in five minutes. Years of "relentless attacks" on Christmas—people saying "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas," the ACLU insisting that the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion") applies just like the Second Amendment—are threatening to "drain the joy from our public spaces as well as from our minds and hearts."

What a fucking drama queen.

There are lots of Americans out there whose religious holidays aren't also national holidays. The country doesn't shut down—and public spaces aren't turned into temples—on Yom Kippur or Diwali or Naw-Ruz. Now, either Jews, Hindus, and Zoroastrians are made of stronger stuff than Sarah Palin... or Sarah Palin is a shit-talking pimp who makes money playing to the carefully cultivated persecution complexes of conservative Christian rubes who wouldn't know what religious persecution was if it sat on their faces and shit in their mouths. (Maybe that's not an either/or.)

And if I may: Gay people have been persecuted for years, for centuries, for motherfucking millennia. Really persecuted, primarily by people of faith. And our persecution didn't take the form of straight people wishing us well but failing to use precisely the right phrase. No, we were burned at the stake, arrested, imprisoned, committed, lobotomized, thrown out of our homes, and fired from our jobs; our children were taken from us, our partners were barred from our hospital rooms during medical emergencies, and on and on and on. And yet... somehow... the joy of giving and receiving blowjobs wasn't drained from our minds and hearts.

If centuries of persecution didn't ruin blowjobs for gay people, Sarah, "happy holidays" isn't going to destroy anyone's Christmas.

By the way, the persecution of gay people by people of faith continues: Gay sex was recriminalized in India last week after a coalition of Muslim and Christian organizations, among others, asked the Indian Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that had legalized consensual gay sex. People will go to prison.

Someone wished you "happy holidays" at the mall, Sarah? Cry us a fucking river.

11:40 AM–12 PM

Still slogging through the intro.

Secularists have a vision for Christmas—and Sarah doesn't care for it, not one bit.

"The other vision is a secular winter festival, which launches on Black Friday and ends sometime after Kwanzaa. People who hold Christmas in contempt believe the holiday can be 'saved' from its religious heritage. The secular vision wants the 'peace' and the 'goodwill toward men' without the miracle of the Virgin Birth—forgetting, of course, that there is no ultimate peace apart from Christ, and it is Christ who empowers every act of 'goodwill toward men' in our otherwise fallen hearts."

Two things:

1. Who holds Christmas in contempt? Who? Where are these people? I'm a secular humanist—there's an award from the Freedom from Religion Foundation on my mantel just inches from my Christmas tree—and here I am, at home on a Saturday morning, baking Christmas cookies for my family. Not holiday cookies. Christmas cookies. I'll be taking some across the street to share with my Jewish neighbors later today. They love Christmas. And no one is trying to "save" Christmas from its heritage. We have a crèche for the baby Jesus and strings of lights for the Roman god Saturn. We honor Christmas's religious heritage—the Christian and non-Christian bits.

2. You read it here first: No Jew—or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or atheist—ever performed a kind, loving, or selfless act. Or if a Jew ever did such a thing, that Jew was "empowered" to do so by Christ. Unwittingly inspired. And no human being ever performed a kind, loving, or selfless act before Christ was born.

I just threw Sarah Palin's book across the room—no, scratch that. I just threw it clear across the house. If our front door had been open, her book would've sailed across the street and onto our Jewish neighbor's porch across the street.

Sorry, gang, but I gotta take another hydrogen peroxide break.

12:40–12:42 PM

"Terry? Where's Sarah Palin's book? It was by the front door."

"I threw it away. I'm sick of listening to you rant about it. And you could've hit me with it when you hurled it across the room. So now it's gone."

"I have to finish my review!"

"Well, you can't."

"I only read the introduction!"

"So just review the introduction!"

"I love you, Terry."

1–1:20 PM

I was never a "happy holidays" guy. Christmas was a big deal in my home growing up, and it's a big deal in the home I share with Terry. December is Christmas. I've always wished people "merry Christmas" without really giving it a thought. Ho-ho-ho.

But that's over now.

Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly and Fox News and the Family Research Council and the woman who allegedly punched another woman outside Walmart earlier this week for saying "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas" managed to break me of the "merry Christmas" habit. I suspect I'm not alone. This constant bitching from the right about "happy holidays"—a perfectly lovely expression that embraces Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Pancha Ganapati, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Hanukkah, the Epiphany, Saint Nicholas's Day, Hogmanay, Twelfth Night, and Kwanzaa—has made one thing clear. Not that there is now, or ever was, a war on Christmas. But that saying "merry Christmas" is an asshole move. Just as conservatives made patriotism toxic during the Vietnam War by conflating it with blind obedience to authority ("My country, right or wrong!"), modern conservatives have made "merry Christmas" toxic by associating it with Christian fundamentalism, religious intolerance, and the politics of imagined persecution.

Unfortunately, the war on Christmas is a game Palin and O'Reilly and Fox News and the Family Research Council can't lose. The more they complain about people saying "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas," the fewer people will say "merry Christmas." This will be held up as proof that the war on Christmas is real. But people like me aren't replacing "merry Christmas" with "happy holidays" to be "politically correct," as Palin insists in the introduction to her stupid book, we're doing it because we don't want people to think we're assholes.

So happy fucking holidays to you, Sarah. I hope you choke on a cinnamon bun.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run some of these Christmas cookies over to the Jews across the street. recommended