Retasking the Holidays

I saw on the news that one of our congressmen is working on changing Halloween to the last Saturday in October so kids won’t have to go to school the next day and parents can more easily plan to go along. He also feels that many people are confused about what night to trick or treat, because at his house he has seen kids out trick-or-treating 2-3 days in a row. Got news for him – they were not confused. They were hungry for candy and thought they were being clever.

This reminded me of the messing around with our holidays we already have to endure. Every year, when it is time for Columbus day I think about the fact that kids don’t know the actual date, and probably in the process have lost track of why it was once considered significant. I continue to see surveys mentioned on the evening news in which high school kids were asked questions about world war II or President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and they have no idea about either the time frame or the relation such events have to history.

When I was young, we celebrated Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday, and I thought it was because they were great men – greater than most, and even greater than other American presidents. I thought it was nice to look up to those heroes and think about what they did that was greater than the lesser accomplishments of Millard Fillmore. Nowadays we simply celebrate the generic “Presidents Day”, on which we forget all about the original reason for the holiday, fail to celebrate the life or the accomplishments
of anyone in particular, and instead recognize only that household linens ought to be on sale once a year and that Postal Workers are more tense than ever and need another break.

In addition, removing the holidays from the days which gave them meaning lessens the impact and really, to me, lessens the meaning they once had. Why not just make every holiday fall on a Monday, and therefore every holiday a part of a convenient 3-day weekend. Why draw a line? Why not yank us around some more by making Thanksgiving and Christmas fall on a Friday or a Monday? It would probably make life more convenient for the big box retailers and their shopping victims. Certainly, there is no point in burdening Christmas shoppers with that tired old association of the Christmas holiday with the night baby Jesus was born into the world. How soon before we realize that there is really no point in associating the Great New Year’s Parties with the actual end of the year?

How long before we get smart and begin celebrating our Nation’s Birthday on a proper holiday weekend and forget that useless connection to any particular day in July? Who remembers the historic event it was once linked to anyway? Apparently not the kids in school today. I’ll bet the only way kids will pay attention to the meaning of a holiday is to celebrate national tanning day next August. Maybe at least they can spell T-A-N.