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In the pages of a secular newspaper, the custom of wishing readers a happy Christmas may seem a little off the point. On the other hand, we do not want to appear Grinch-like - readers with small children will know these lines by heart: "The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason."

In the pages of a secular newspaper, the custom of wishing readers a happy Christmas may seem a little off the point. On the other hand, we do not want to appear Grinch-like - readers with small children will know these lines by heart: "The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason."

So we wish our atheist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian readers a merry solstice. It is quite cheering, after all, to know that the days are getting longer. And that there are only another 185 shopping days until the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships.

Other good things about Christmas include the smell of pine needles, the excuse to make mulled wine, and buying really good computer games in the hope that the children will find something better to do.

Finally, some quiz questions that will not crop up in all the tests of general knowledge about what happened this year. Did you know that male reindeer tend not to have antlers by December, because they break off in rutting? Do you have to be merry to have a happy Christmas? Cheers!

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