Aaron R. Davis
Labor Day was upon us yesterday. I have a holiday routine that I go through, and it goes like this:
1. Reflect on the origin of the holiday. (In this case, the 1894 Pullman Strike.)
2. Get annoyed over the fact that no one seems to remember why we even celebrate the holiday anymore.
3. Get annoyed over something ironic. (It was Labor Day, yet my wife worked a ten-hour shift.)
4. Look to see if there are any good marathons on TV.
5. Get irritated that all of the marathons on TV are of idiot shows I wouldn’t watch if I was confined to a hospital bed and couldn’t talk. (Jon and Kate Plus 8, Ghost Hunters, World’s Somethingest Somethings, etc.)
6. Spend the day on the computer.
That’s pretty much all of the pomp and celebration I’ve devoted to holidays anymore. Life’s too short to spend so-called holidays being harassed by family members for not visiting often enough, or trying to win a drinking contest with a stranger, or just having to pretend that I like other people in any way. It’s easier and less of a headache to just spend the day inside watching DVDs, taking a long shower, looking at porn on the Internet and playing video games. (Hey, don’t mock the way I observe holidays in private – it’s what I believe.)
Besides, what’s the encouragement to go out and interact with family and friends and total strangers on holidays, really? Do people still really believe that holidays are days of celebration and/or remembrance and/or reflection? Bullshit, they’re about sales and guilt and getting a day (or three) off of work.
When you see a schmuck dressed up as Abraham Lincoln pushing discounted mattresses in honor of freedom every President’s Day, you have to wonder what the value of our collective memory really is. When you feel like an asshole because you couldn’t afford better Christmas presents, you bristle at the notion that Christmas is really about family and love and peace and all of those other things we only believe in for three weeks a year. And when Americans get excited about having a three-day Cinco de Mayo weekend, a day set aside to honor nothing that actually happened in America or to America, you have to marvel at the way Americans will take anything remotely celebratory and turn it into another day to avoid work.
Here are the various holidays and what they really mean to me.
New Year’s Day: The day I make loud noises all morning long to punish my college kid neighbors for their pathetic parties the night before. Also, Twilight Zone marathon. Why is this even a holiday? The odometer rolled over; you didn’t do anything to help that. It’s like celebrating nightfall – it would’ve happened even if you hadn’t been watching it.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The day the local news channel shows the “I Have a Dream” speech. Pretty minimal effort, guys.
Valentine’s Day: Setting one day aside every year to remember you love your significant other just encourages year-round laziness.
President’s Day: Mattress sales.
St. Patrick’s Day: Like Valentine’s Day, a Catholic holiday that seemingly no one in America can remember the reason for. Being around a bunch of drunken people isn’t fun on any other day of the year, so why is it supposed to be fun on this one?
April Fools’ Day: The day you find out that all of those people in the office who think they’re really funny really, really aren’t. I think the next day should be celebrated as Vengeful Punching Day.
Good Friday: I’m an atheist, so I’m supposed to automatically be offended that kids in my district get this day off of school now and it’s disguised as the first day of Spring Break. Really, I’m more offended by the idea that kids get an extra day of Spring Break now. How many days off do they need?
Easter Sunday: I’m an atheist, so who cares? Not that I don’t appreciate the social mandate to eat more candy, though.
Patriot’s Day: Like anyone even celebrates this anymore. If we got the day off work, it would be considered a sacred American right.
Secretaries Day: Or, apparently, Administrative Professionals Day, which kind of takes away from the secretaries. I mean, your manager is also an administrative professional. I’m not sure when or why secretaries let “secretary” became a degrading word. Either way, Secretaries Day is as made-up as Grandparents’ Day and Sweetest Day, which only exists so Valentine’s Day card manufacturers can get rid of overstock later in the year.
Earth Day: Aw, that’s cute. Not a real holiday, and encourages hippies to talk to me, something I can’t stand.
Arbor Day: How many holidays do hippies need?
Cinco de Mayo: Commemorating the Mexican General Seguin’s unlikely victory over the French forces, so it makes sense we’d celebrate this in America. I think this is the only day Rush Limbaugh stops screaming about the Hispanic population.
Mother’s Day: Family guilt trip.
Memorial Day: A day of solemn remembrance for the soldiers cut down in America’s battles, cookouts, mattress sales and whatever movie with the most special effects comes out.
Flag Day: No one celebrates this except for hardcore veterans and liberal bloggers making yet another point about how no one notices we’re not living in a democracy anymore.
Father’s Day: Family guilt trip II: Electric Boogaloo.
Independence Day: The day commemorating the box office sweep of the movie Independence Day and America’s insurgent rebellion by exploding stuff. Also Twilight Zone marathon.
Labor Day: The day white collar workers and students get off, but not anyone working in any kind of retail or service outlet. Because that’s what the whole Pullman Strike was about: getting to work more.
Leif Erikson Day: Is this real?
Columbus Day: No one but teachers get this day off of work, so no one cares. Plus, you know, controversial.
Halloween: My favorite holiday of the year, and one that is either over-celebrated (I’ve been seeing Halloween items on display in stores since the middle of July, which kind of cheapens the whole thing) or under-celebrated (parents are in the process of child-safety-counciling this one into oblivion).
Veterans Day: Mattress sales, lip service to veterans, who are as ignored as every other senior citizen. Cookouts, if it’s still nice.
Thanksgiving: The mother of all family guilt trips. Here we celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims (and, symbolically, the survivor spirit of America) and the unity with the natives of this land (before we began a systematic governmental program of extermination that continued unconscionably into the 1970s) by trying to fulfill unrealistic family expectations in a vain quest for the perfect family holiday.
If locking yourself in a room with a meal it takes far, far too long to prepare and family members with so much tension between them it could hold up a bridge is your idea of a holiday, then by all means, enjoy your Thanksgiving. But my parents are divorced and each year is a tug-of-war as to where I’m going to spend the day, so you know where I spend it? On the couch watching my Veronica Mars and Arrested Development DVDs and heading to my local diner at night for a turkey dinner. For the sake of my sanity, Thanksgiving no longer exists in my world. Half of your family members don’t even notice anymore; they’re too busy worried about the next morning’s door-buster deals.
Pearl Harbor Day: Ever since the Ben Affleck movie came out, no one but the History Channel makes noise about this one. I guess Michael Bay said all we needed to say about Pearl Harbor Day.
Christmas/Hanukkah/The Holidays (if you’re being PC): They act like it’s a big deal, but it’s really just Thanksgiving II, isn’t it? Actually, that sounds charitable. In a way, Thanksgiving doesn’t end until New Year’s. You get the guilt trip at Thanksgiving, and the guilt trip leads to an orgy of shopping the next day and for the next few weeks, and then it all leads up to the occasion at the end of the year when the presents we buy are used to judge how much we actually care about our families. So all of the work you do over the rest of the year really just leads up to this gigantic Judgment Festival, a delight spurred on by an endless stream of movies that tell us that Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time of peace and togetherness, but is really just a giant hassle.
New Year’s Eve: Actually, for as lame as I find New Year’s Day, I get New Year’s Eve. After the Thanksgiving season is finally over and the families are all back home and the nightmare has ended, I need several drinks, too. This is America’s tension release. And oh, man, do we need it.
Also, Twilight Zone marathon.
So if you got up yesterday, lazed on the couch in your underwear, cursed that nothing was really on besides the Jerry Lewis telethon, and then spent the day playing video games, surfing the Internet or going to a baseball game, good for you. Self indulgence, avoiding family and ditching work are what the holidays are all about.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at email@example.com.