Christmas is barely a week away. Actually, when you're reading this, it probably is less than that. Nonetheless, there will be another issue of Isthmus on the streets before the holiday. Next week's issue will be distributed on Wednesday, so look for it as you do those last-minute errands.
This week we're still in a pre-Christmas mode, including the contrarian cover story "Happily God-free," by contributor Ann Grauvogl. Most veteran Madisonians will recognize immediately that this is about the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the organization's principals, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker. The Gaylor name especially is associated with the anti-religion movement, as Anne Gaylor, Annie's mother, was active in that cause before her.
It's in the Madison ethic to host an organization such as FFRF. That certainly does not mean that all of Madison subscribes to its sentiments. Likewise, because we report on the organization, it does not mean that Isthmus endorses it. That would be hypocritical, since, when you peruse our pages, you'll see a lot of advertising and editorial devoted to the day that ostensibly celebrates the birth of Christ.
Christmas has, obviously, been secularized to a great extent. Still, for many people the holiday is inextricably bound to familial traditions that in many cases are inextricably bound to religious traditions. If you're a person who wants to emphasize the religious aspect of Christmas, I direct your attention to page 35, which lists holiday worship opportunities.
And for gift-buying still to be done, suggestions abound within our pages. Check out Terese Allen's recommendations for food books, as well as Linda Falkenstein's nine local food gifts. Jessica Steinhoff tells you which CDs she sampled in 2009 that are suitable for giving. There are all kinds of ideas in the ads, including a two-page spread of Unique Gifts and one one of last-minute gifts. In the end, though, it's not about the presents but the presence. Here's wishing you a happy Christmas, with plenty of family and friends around.