"I love Christmas,” writes Bruce David Forbes. “And Christmas drives me crazy.” With that opening confession, he sets out to determine just how much of the holiday is real after all—whatever real means. The skimpy biblical accounts, decidedly pagan revelry, manufactured nostalgia and commercial overlay all raise his eyebrows. Even though Forbes’s tone is never sardonic, his “candid history” does make clear that from the start Jesus has been just one reason for the season.


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