Atheist Christmas novel from a former Disney World Imagineering show-writer

Darryl Pickett, the Walt Disney Imagineering contract show writer whose videos about life in the trenches at Disney World I blogged in Jan 2011 has written a fun-sounding Christmas novel called The Secret Feast of Father Christmas. He writes,

The story seeks to reinvent the traditional Christmas gift giver. No toy-making elves or flying reindeer here. Father Christmas lives in a secret palace called Very North, and is married to Mother Solstice, a pantheistic demigoddess. (I suspect Father Christmas is Unitarian Universalist.) My hero is a 13 year-old New Zealander named Mannie, who has lost his beloved Aunt Audra, a free-spirited atheist. He struggles with the idea propounded by his Anglican family, that his aunt may have been relegated to Hell. The story has its bittersweet moments, and it's certainly heartfelt. Though it has no direct connection to anything Disney, I believe my Imagineering roots will become clear to anyone who reads through to the end.

The Secret Feast of Father Christmas (Thanks, Darryl!)


  1. I call BS here – I’m a New Zealander, we grow up knowing Father Xmas comes from the SOUTH pole – we grew up seeing him on the “weather radar” on the TV news on xmas eve – any self respecting kiwi kid know that these days global warming means the North is all open ocean, there’s only one place that Santa can truly come from and know how to find us at the beach for Xmas.

    Here’s my xmas story – in a fit of atheist honesty I told my 5yr old that santa wasn’t real … the next day he came home and told me it wasn’t true, santa was very real, he’d seen him at the mall …and of course that’s how we should raise our kids, sceptical of the world and ready call even their parents on their BS – we continue to celebrate xmas, the capitalist holiday of buying stuff, and in a long family tradition tie a $20 to the top of the tree to remind us what it’s all about

    1. Taniwha – The fellow in my novel isn’t Santa Claus, but more closely tied to earlier European (and world) traditions. The story takes place in 1937 – before the North was in quite such grave danger of being melted. I share your anxiety on that score.

    2. Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, sciency children are sometimes troubled by the absence of a landmass at the North Pole capable of supporting a major manufacturing operation. The South Pole is a much better choice

  2. Regarding Aunt Audra, the idea of heaven and hell, my take is similar to the John Lee Hooker lyrics….

    “No Burning Hell Ain’t no burning, no Burning Hell

    When I die, in my grave, nobody know where I’m going

    Ain’t no heaven, ain’t no hell I don’t believe,

    I don’t believe in no heaven I don’t believe in no hell” 

    I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that.

  3. Bill O’Reilly should have fun with this one.  Why can’t the atheists just stick with Labor Day or something instead of trolling Christmas?  I can already hear the right-wing heads exploding.

    1. Does Right Wing always equal Religious (Christian Fundamentalist) Nut in the USA?

      I’m starting to get a little concerned about politics over there.

      1. Relgious Nuts are part of the Right Wing Nut Medley. They’re like the peanuts; not the biggest idividual pieces but there’s a lot of them.

      2. Christian Fundamentalists are almost always US Republican/Right-Wing. But there are plenty of Right-Wing Americans who are not fundamentalist Christians, especially in regions of the country where religious fundamentalism is less common (e.g., the Urban Northeast). 

        The US party system has made strong pairings between unrelated issues (What does access to abortion have to do with tax policy?) so you can be what we call “right wing” in this country either because of your views on homosexuality, abortion, and secular education OR because of your views on business regulation, tax policy, and national defense. But because people are (usually) willing to compromise on the second list, most of the hardliners come from the first.

        1. Maybe we need  smartphone app that succinctly illustrates what people get tangled up with when they go one way or the other!

        2. Wait, you think there are a lot of right-wing nuts in the urban Northeast? Because if there are, they don’t vote.

    2. The short answer to your question is: yes.

      The long answer to your question is: often enough that when someone says they are “Right Wing” you’d be safe assume they mean “Religious (Christian Fundamentalist) Nut”.

      Edit: Sorry, that was meant to be a reply to peregrinus below.

  4. I can’t wait until my Pastafarian ramadan starts. The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without overly stereotypical italian master chef Luigi Mohammad, while I feast on a multitude of delicious pasta dishes beginning at dawn and ending at dusk for 30 full, glorious days!

  5. I don’t think this is an Atheist book – if it were, why try to steal Christmas, and why mention anything religious at all?

    Trying to kidnap Christmas brings to mind imagery of native Americans lassoing steam trains from horseback.

    Just to make sure, I’m tweeting this to the pope, and he’ll get on the case quick smart.  Inquisition, on its way!

  6. I thought one of the great things about atheism is that we didn’t read any bullshit dogma to our children.

      1. Ah, but that’s a trick question. If it’s not part of your belief system, it’s not dogma anymore. Just literature.

  7. While I think that the concept behind this book is based on falsehoods, I have to compliment the person who wrote this article headline – they are an evil marketing genius.  Calling upon the Disney name, when the author was merely a Disney contract writer (not an employee, not a representative) is pure evil awesomeness! 

    Let’s use it again:  This comment was written by a frequenty Disney World guest! 

    Disney loves Christmas, surely because they make money from it, but indirectly because it is true – that’s why so many people celebrate it and they can profit from it.  Proof point: Check out the Christmas Party that Disney throws every year:

    1. Hey Darryl – I’ll give those chapters a read tonight!  Thanks for stopping by.

      (Now I’ve seen you in the virtual flesh I don’t feel it would be very christian of me to inform on you to the pope) (and I’m unsure I could adequately catholicize my language to properly falsify authenticity anyhow) (*but* I do believe inquisitions can be set in motion)

  8. Dude, you got it all wrong.  What happened was after Jesus got crucified and came back to life, he wandered up to the North Pole, tamed and converted the “elves”, and eventually turned his carpentry skills towards toy making and giving out gifts on his birthday.  Notice you never see Jesus and Santa in the same place.

    1. Not to mention that he also really let himself go. But does that mean Mrs. Claus is Mary Magdalene? That’s nice. I always wondered what her real name was.

Comments are closed.