Last Update: 05 Feb 00
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We are a species which loves celebrations and parties. We also seem to feel a great need for ceremonies to honor all make and manner of things great and small. I'm certainly not one to quibble with having a good time or honoring something worthy, but I do have a few thoughts on the subject.
As I write this (a week prior to Thanksgiving), we are becoming increasingly ensnared in what is often referred to as "the Holiday season". This is the time of the year when the retailers try to turn the "Christmas spirit" into massive sales, when people who wouldn't think twice about stomping all over you to get ahead during the rest of the year suddenly begin to espouse "peace on Earth and good will towards men", when people who don't talk to you all year suddenly send you beautiful and expensive cards blaring out "Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year", and when children will be forced to write "Thank you" notes to people they've never met expressing their appreciation for the gifts of socks and incorrectly-sized clothing.
Have you noticed that "the Christmas season" gets longer and longer and longer every year? This year, I noticed the gaudy lights, annoying music, and product advertising beginning to pop up a couple of weeks before Halloween. If I ever become President, my first official act will be an Executive Order making it illegal to start the push for one holiday before the preceding holiday has come and gone. I think the most enjoyable Christmas season I've ever spent was in 1993 while I was living in Izmir, Turkey. Turkey, of course, is an Islamic country and "Christmas" has no meaning there. It was truly a great pleasure not to be inundated with the blatant commercialism and hypocrisy that typically infests the season here in the US. It was also rather funny to notice the seeming confusion among most of the other Americans there who seemed a bit lost without the familiar Christmas cacaphony.
Birthdays are another observance that most people seem to blow way out of proportion. If you think about it, is there really anything special about that one particular day? You really aren't any different than you were the day before. How would one observe birthdays if they moved to another planet where the length of a "day" and a "year" were significantly different from that experienced on the Earth? More than anything, birthdays seem to be little more than an excuse to buy yourself something that you just couldn't justify at any other time. Of course, they're also a good excuse to get gifts and special consideration from others...*grin*
Another interesting custom is the "special day" when somebody or something is honored. These run the gamut from Federal holidays like Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to things like National Secretaries' Day. Why do we need to set aside a special day for this? Can we not honor these people at any time of the year? Now, some will say that we might forget to render proper honors without these special days. Well, if there is any real concern about forgetfulness, might it just be conceivable that there may not be a pressing need for the honors in the first place? For example, MLK's message should be remembered and honored throughout the year. Same with "peace on Earth", giving thanks for what we have, and honoring one's parents.
Admittedly, there are good reasons for holidays and observances. Most people would rarely, if ever, get a day off from work without them. The blatant consumerism surrounding them certainly benefits the economy. There are certain family and societal benefits realized from how people act during holiday time. And, I suppose there are more than a few people who would never act civilized if there wasn't some holiday compelling them to temporarily change their ways.
So, while I may not join the crowd in getting all euphoric over the approach of any given holiday, I'll certainly hope that they will be enjoyable times for everyone. Me? I enjoy the entire year!
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