This may seem a little weird, but I’m going a little nuts due to school (which is going very well thank-you-very-much and is almost over . . . and by that I mean I’ll be done in about two months) not to mention work deadlines, the economy, &c.
Next week is Columbus Day (observed). Lisa gets the day off; I don’t. A couple months ago was “Victory Day” in Rhode Island, which as best as I can tell celebrates the nuking of Japan. Almost everyone with a salaried job gets that day off in the Ocean State; not so in the Bay State. Neither are holidays that I would care to celebrate, but then again it’s rather moot.
Last week had both Eid ul-Fitr and Rosh Hashanah, so I didn’t have classes at Brandeis (except for my online distance learning class, since there’s apparently no g-d on/in the Internet). We don’t get many holidays at the office, although we do get Presidents Day off in February. I would much rather get Patriots’ Day off, since the weather is almost always beautiful — I would even take Columbus Day over that other holiday which is mostly given over to car-shopping — but I don’t make up the office calendar. And (perhaps) the most subversive holiday is the one you take while at work, the one which is catered and for which you receive pay without doing real work. Call it a “senior skip day” that you take every year.
Anyway, there are a lot of nonsense holidays all around and a lot of holidays that manage to exclude people while celebrating someone else’s heritage, and there are some other holidays that I wouldn’t mind having. And sadly there are a lot of noble or holy days that don’t get any consideration at all. Your holiday wish list will be different than mine. Heck, your holiday might even make me mad. (I’m looking at you, Columbus.) After all, this is the U.S., and that’s the price we pay for living in a pluralistic society that purports to value diversity.
To make everyone happy, I propose adding two new holidays: “Good Shit Day” and “Bad Shit Day.” The actual names may need to change in order to enter the Federal Register; we can argue about them later. On the Good Day you can celebrate whatever things and event make you happy. If that’s Columbus discovering the New World (*ahem*) then you can have your day to parade or go car shopping or sleep in. If it’s celebrating the forced eviction of the British army from Boston, more power to you. Or perhaps you’re happy that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. How and what you celebrate is your business.
To balance things out and to give everyone their due, we need the other holiday. This Bad Day provides some cosmic balance; it’s a sobering yin to the raging yang of our petty delights. It’s a day of commemoration or (if that doesn’t move you) spite. It’s the karmic reminder that for almost everything you treasure somebody paid a dear price, whether heroic and selfless or the result of malice and avarice. It’s the day when you should expect that other people are contemplating the what-ifs of the American Indian Movement or Nat Turner or Tories fleeing to Nova Scotia or the Salem witch hysteria.
The main point is this. We’ve got the bases covered with the traditional holidays: New Year (drunken revelry), MLK (equality through struggle) Presidents Day (founding fathers + ne’er-do-wells + “spring” break), Memorial Day (making the ultimate sacrifice), Independence Day (nationhood), Labor Day (rest and relaxation), Thanksgiving (national mythologizing), and Christmas (avarice and/or hope). We can’t make new holidays without (a) suffering some kind of national upheaval (e.g., having another revolution — Jefferson Davis’s B-Day doesn’t count; it must be successful) or (b) excluding some group while celebrating another.
What I propose is giving everyone two extra days off work at fixed points during the year — April and October have nice weather, but August could be good, too — and letting people interpret them however they want to without celebrating anyone to the detriment of others. And then declaring a moratorium: No new holidays for any specific event or group.
Alternatively, I would settle for adding two or three more “Labor Days” throughout the year. But you have to admit, that has somewhat less panache than the matched set I propose.