Saturday, January 12, 2013
Welcome to Holiday Desolation
We may not be even two weeks into the new year, but for those of you who haven't noticed it, we are firmly into the season of Holiday Desolation. It's not really fair when you come to think of it, especially when you consider that we end each year with four of the biggest holidays.
Halloween in October is fast becoming the biggest holiday of the year in terms of the decorations that we buy (especially when you add in the personal decorations, better known as costumes). Add in what we spend on candy for the rug rats, and it's likewise becoming one of the most expensive holidays of the year.
Thanksgiving follows just four weeks later (depending on the vagaries of the calendar and the municipal trick-or-treat rules); and earns its credentials not only through sheer caloric intake, but through bringing families together once a year long enough to remind them of why they don't do so any other time of the year. Having spent the past couple of weeks gorging ourselves on chocolate confections left over from the previous holiday (mostly because we again forgot to turn the porch light on and let the little beggars know we were open for business), we can now look forward to tryptophan induced somnolence while likewise over-indulging in parades and football games.
Following again just four weeks later is the grandaddy of them all, Christmas. It's that one that Lucy defines all too aptly in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" as: "You know, Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls." It's the holiday upon which greedy capitalism reaches its excessive real-life realization, not through the necessity of buying Lucy her hearts desire; but through those, "He went to Jared's" efforts that a man makes on his way home from the Lexus dealership. After all, what way is there to celebrate a pagan, religious, and secular holiday than through automobiles and coal (wait, I thought only bad people got that) which gets put through enormous pressure and temperature (kind of like the credit card payments afterwards).
Lest we think that rest is ahead, exactly one week later we're joined by an old guy thinking he's at a college toga party and a baby wearing a diaper, black tie, and a top hat informing us that it's last call and extolling us to have just one more cocktail in the hopes that we can spend the first day of the new year trying to get someone to bail us out of jail. Then what?
After celebrating for the last three months straight, what do we get in January? Well there's Inauguration Day, but it's a politician's holiday celebrated only by the people who voted for the guy being inaugurated. The only people who get the day off are politicians in Washington DC; with exception of incoming president, who has to take an oath and give a speech. Martin Luther King Jr Day makes an appearance on the day after this year (which is curiously also celebrated as Robert E Lee's Birthday in AL, AR, GA, and MS), but as of yet this holiday barely rates a mattress sale. (It's not a real holiday if there's not a mattress sale.) But that's it for the month .... nothin'.
It picks up slightly in February with a ridiculous holiday about a weather-predicting rodent in a town in PA that 98% of Americans couldn't spell without looking it up. If it weren't for Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell effort (and my son's coming nuptials), few if any would care about it now. Then along comes yet another New Year, the Chinese New Year (after Jan 1 and the Orthodox New Year); followed by Lincoln's Birthday, which was so important that we've recently dropped it like a bad habit to combine it with Washington's birthday in some meaningless thing called 'President's Day'. Of course there's always Mardi Gras, but only if you happen to be in the right part of the South. over-serve yourself, and trade the beads that we used to be able to buy entire islands for (like Manhattan) for the glandular exposure that we used to see in National Geographic. (Who may have been the same people we bought the islands from.)
Of course there is one possible holiday entrant in February, Valentine's Day. Originally named for one of the two Catholic saints of the same name (nobody's sure which), it has now become little more than a 'Hallmark Holiday" of love and romance in which cards, candy, and of course vast quantities of jewelry are purchased by men for women to make up for the really crappy things that they will undoubtedly do the to them rest of the year. In a rather twisted association, this day of amorous behavior is also remembered for the 1929 massacre of seven mob guys, allegedly by members of Al Capone's social circle who were apparently not all that fond of them.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must point out that I married my first wife on a Valentines Day. I deny the conjecture that has since arisen that I did so in order to avoid having to purchase both a Valentine and Anniversary gift annually; and wish to state that I did so only because a was young, innocent, and a sentimental slob at the time. I can further state for the record that I am no longer .... young.
With that, February has nothing further to contribute. Neither does March for that matter. Oh sure some of the more favored celebrate my granddaughters birthday on the same day that they let everybody dress up in green on the 17th to celebrate an Irish saint that was actually English (Ireland was too poor at the time to afford its own saints). In a twisted US observance, green Budweiser and Miller is consumed in practices which would in fact considered sacrilege on Emerald Isle. (Drinking Budweiser and Miller is only a venal sin, but dying it green in a misguided effort to make it sacramental or palatable in some way however makes such a sin a mortal one indeed.) It's not until the end of the month when another pagan holiday that's been co-opted by a religious holiday is celebrated as a secular holiday (confusing, isn't it?) that we get our first real break in the month's of long monotony. It's the end of May however before we once more resume normal holiday observances (I refuse to accept Cinco de Mayo, Arbor Day, or April 15th's Tax Day).
Personally, I find the whole concept ridiculous. What better time to reward citizens and improve their state of mind than with holidays during the gray days of winter. When are breaks from the mindless tedium of everyday existence required more than during the time of year when we are weary from shoveling snow, depressed from the lack of daylight, and all but suicidal from having filled out our income tax forms. But no, in typically misguided government fashion, we get far more mandated days off when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the weather is warm.
You know, perhaps we could get Congress to pass a law mandating a holiday during this period of holiday desolation. Who better than they to pass something truly pointless for no better reason than to win approval from voters that who think less favorably of them than of head lice (understandable, when you consider that you can get rid of head lice). How about the: Half-assed Ordinance to Lighten Individual Drudgery Arbitrarily and Yearly Act?