New Year’s Eve, et al = Overrated. Spend way too much money on an average meal because it comes with “complimentary” sparkling wine, a noisemaker, and a stupid hat. Bonus material: jeopardize your life by dodging drunk drivers on the way home.
Dead Guy Celebrations = Meh. This is Columbus Day and the like. To the vast majority of Americans, this amounts to little more than a day off from work or school. There is virtually no connection to the actual purpose of the holiday.
Valentine’s Day = Warning. Don’t screw it up. This is at best a break-even holiday with pressure adroitly applied by retailers such as jewelers and card-makers that know exactly how to strike sentimental cords via meticulously crafted advertising campaigns. $10K diamond earrings just because the TV told me to do it? Sure. Why not? Don’t even consider the possibility that a simple box of worthless chocolates will carry the day. Who ever thought putting awful orange nougat inside milk chocolate was a good idea?
Independence Day = Pretty darn good. Get up early and put a brisket on the smoker. Sneak a bloody mary over to the parade. Eat good food and enjoy a sunny afternoon with your family and friends. Find a cool place to watch an epic fireworks show. Hunker down with food, beverage and comfortable chairs so you can remove traffic and crowds from the enjoyment. Not a bad day at all.
Memorial Day / Veteran’s Day = Great. Never mind the annual confusion about which is which. Commit some time to honor and respect the target groups. Go to a parade. Visit a memorial. Take the rest of the day to do something you really enjoy, whether that’s a long trail ride on your mountain bike or an afternoon sketching in your notebook at the park. In the case of the former, celebrate the official start of summer. In the case of the latter, and if you live North of 36 deg N latitude, mourn the inexorable approach of crummy weather.
Christmas = Wonderful, but comes with pitfalls. If the retail markets had their way, Christmas would start in July and run for six months. This holiday has been hijacked, and many of us of are complicit. It comes with tremendous pressure to get just the right gifts. Psycho-parents will bare-knuckle fight others to get a rare toy that is flying off the shelves. Travel is hectic and horribly expensive. For all the aforementioned reasons, Christmas is a financial bloodletting that can leave you praying for a good tax return to aid monetary recovery. Don’t even think about tying this holiday to the actual birth of Jesus Christ. You are vulnerable to lawsuits. Moreover, news articles will remind you that 25 December is probably not even the day Jesus was born, so shove your faith and say “Happy Holidays” so as not to offend others who want to participate in a Christian holiday without that annoying “Christian” thing. In spite of all my whinging, it is a splendid day that I dearly love.
Thanksgiving = the Holy Grail. The pièce de résistance. Retailers have been only moderately successful in over-marketing it. Instead, they would rather you get a head-start on Christmas. Their ploy hasn’t worked on me, and it appears as though I’m not alone. There is little to no pressure at Thanksgiving. Spend it away from home with family and friends, or spend it at home with family and friends. Your call. Wake up to the smell of onions sautéing in garlic and butter. Enjoy a good cup of strong coffee. I like to go for a long run in the morning as a down-payment on the glorious amount of calories I will later consume. It makes me feel better throughout the day and it removes what little guilt I might harbor, for Thanksgiving is not about guilt. While the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade plays in the background with no one actually watching it, cook a turkey in whatever fashion suits you. Even mediocre turkey is delicious. Revel in the aromas that waft through the house while watching football. Drink a glass of wine at 11 AM. Take a nap. Repeat this cycle as many times as you see fit. Don’t fight the tryptophan; give into it. It feels so good to drift off as the warmth overtakes your body on the couch. There is no call for judgment here. You can pay the bills tomorrow. As the evening wears on, pour a martini and have a turkey sandwich. I eat mine on white bread with mayo, salt and pepper. Nothing else is required or desired. I rarely eat white bread, and I don’t even normally like mayo. It just works. Don’t worry about it.
Above all, be happy and give thanks. Some more than others, I admit, but everyone has something for which they can be thankful.