Christmas is without a doubt the best time of year when you’re a little kid. Yeah, this celebration is supposed to be about a holy baby in a manger, but children and all but the most devout Christians relate a lot more to Santa Claus. As I write this in mid-November, Christmas carols have already jolted my ears in a few public places. Such overkill is one reason why, even though it’s the most prolific of holidays, I can’t rank it as the best, except for kids under the age of 10.
As years go by youthful innocence gets hijacked by pubescence
and its accompanying penchant for mischief. That’s why, just guessing, but I’d
say more than half the population between the ages of 10 and 18 or thereabout
ranks Halloween ahead of Christmas as the jolliest time of year. This trend has
accelerated in the modern era as this quirky unofficial holiday has evolved
from a single day on the calendar to take over the entire month of October. How
puzzling it is why a surprising number of adults also have gotten into the
spirit of a holiday that celebrates the macabre and doesn’t even entail a day off
from work. Chalk it up to great marketing by candy and costume companies.
Speaking of which, Halloween IMO
ranks second to Valentine’s Day as the most contrived of holidays. February 14
exists as a tribute not so much to Cupid as to the skill of modern marketers.
Ostensibly it celebrates romance but a day that originated for lovers has morphed
into preschool toddlers drawing hearts on cards for fellow classmates as well
as Mommy and Daddy. Love is a good thing. But this curmudgeon views the curdled
versions celebrated on Valentine’s Day as too much of a good thing.
People of all ages tend to have a good time on Independence Day.
Patriots like me have not much bad to say about it, although one can take a dim
view of commercial exploitation that tends to tip heavily toward fireworks that
are illegal in many places and dangerous everywhere. Nonetheless, this holiday
shines with almost everyone because of the opportunity to express patriotism, tap
toes to Sousa marches while enjoying professional fireworks shows, and take
part in fun-filled cookouts in the most casual attire. Too bad it’s such a
fleeting mid-summer moment.
Memorial Day and Labor Day also are single-day events whose
reasons for being are barely noted by most of the population anymore. They resonate
mostly because they result in extended weekends for most people and,
practically speaking, bookend the beginning and end of summer. We look forward
to these holidays, but they do not register as high as the aforementioned on
most peoples’ joy-meter.
Easter is a holiday that deserves honorable mention at best,
being relegated mostly to Christians and not even generating a working day off.
St. Patrick’s Day is nominally another
religious holiday, in the same sense that dwarf tossing nominally can be
considered a sport. Mostly March 17 gives college students and other amateur
imbibers a more or less sanctioned excuse to get drunk.
As for New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day, which for practical
purposes can be considered a single holiday, well, that too is a time given
mainly to a celebration of intoxicating beverages and not only for college
students. Actually, the second part of NYE/NYD mostly celebrates hangover
remedies. The best of NCAA football, too, which combined with a day off from
work for most of us are reasons to cherish this holiday. However, a veil of
gloom attends NYD in marking as it does the end of a lengthy holiday season and
the start of a three-month run of dreadful weather for those of us living up
north. NYD always feels to me like I’m sitting in a pleasant waiting room for a
As for the pseudo-holidays of Columbus Day, President’s Day
and Martin Luther King Day, they are virtually meaningless except as an excuse
for government workers to get yet another day off.
Veteran’s Day deserves to be ranked above the other
government-only holidays due to its solemn heritage. It used to be taken more seriously
when it was called Armistice Day to celebrate what was thought to be the end of
the war to end all wars - the ultimate in wishful thinking. Now Veteran’s Day
is indistinguishable from Memorial Day except without a break from work for
people in the private sector.
Finally, we come to the one American holiday even I have
trouble treating with cynicism. Thanksgiving is the purest of our celebrations,
the least trampled upon by commercialism, the most embraceable by people of all
ages, ethnicities and religions. As the name suggests, it is a time for reflection,
peace and charity, and perfectly suited for celebrating with extended family
You have to be a real turkey not to love Thanksgiving. May
yours be filled with love and happiness.
Thanks For Thanksgiving - The Best Holiday Of All
November 20, 2009