When I was growing up in Ames, a friend of the family once spent Halloween in his basement. Alone. In the dark.
He had forgotten to buy candy for Beggars’ Night, so rather than make a trip to the store, he simply turned off all the lights in the house and retreated downstairs.
Each year as the holidays approach – not just Halloween, but the whole end-of-the-year shebang – a growing number of people consider sitting them out. Each year, it seems more people grouse about how early stores hang up tinsel, how many catalogs clog their mailboxes, how many pounds they pack on at the annual parties.
Far worse, of course, are the New Age “musical stylings” of carols that stores pipe in to put customers in a festive (read: spendy) mood. And while my father and I await the season’s first insipid strains with a certain masochistic glee, one or two rounds of Kenny G’s “Jingle Bell Rock” is more than enough to last us all year. There’s no reason stores need to crank that jank up before Thanksgiving, not to even mention Halloween, Labor Day or the Fourth of Holly Jolly July.
But take heart, Scrooges. You’re not alone. There’s mounting resistance to the season’s rampant commercialization. Things are spinning so far out of control that a lot of people are trying to figure out ways to tone things down, simplify or put on some pj’s and curl up in bed until April.
Consider, for example, John Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas,” the story of a couple determined to ignore the entire thing, cookies, carols and all. Despite the unfortunate movie version, “Christmas with the Kranks,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen (there’s a reason they call him the Toolman), the idea of gliding through the season without going fa-la-loony has its appeal.
But there’s a little hitch. If we don’t celebrate the holidays, what will pull us through the dreariest months of winter? Without those highlighted squares at the bottom of the calendar, the wait for spring might be unbearable.
So here’s my idea: Let’s put all the traditional holidays on the shelf for a few years and celebrate some decoys just long enough to throw the Mighty, Mighty Retail Empire off track.
To make things easy, a whole smattering of obscure holidays are already sprinkled throughout the next couple of months. As it turns out, November, otherwise known as Aviation History Month and Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month, offers a quirky menu of potential fun, from Deviled Egg Day (2), King Tut Day (4), Marooned Without A Compass Day (6), Clean Your Refrigerator Day (15) and – goody-goody! – Square Dance Day (26).
Not to be outdone, December, or Bingo Month, has Wear Brown Shoes Day (6), followed closely by Put On Your Own Shoes Day (6), National Ding-a-Ling Day (12), National Bouillabaisse Day (14), and my personal favorite, Oatmeal Muffin Day (19).
Seriously, people, I’m not making these up. Visit holidayinsights.com if you want an expanded list.
Granted, most of these questionably official holidays were created by crafty PR goons – minions of the aforementioned empire of all things retail – but come on, who couldn’t get excited about peanut butter? Or getting lost without a compass? Just think of the possibilities for family gatherings.
So here’s the plan. Pay attention – this could work if we all get on board.
Step 1. Pick a weirdo holiday.
Step 2. Cook up some weirdo traditions.
Step 3. Send weirdo cards to your friends and family.
Step 4. Sit back and watch as the new traditions sweep the nation.
Then, a few years from now when stores catch on and start playing Kenny G’s version of “Walk Like an Egyptian” for King Tut Day, we’ll all switch back to the classics.
Stolen from the DM Register