Everyone knows what’s coming up. It’s the holidays. Crackling fires, grand feasts with family and friends, Santa Claus, the exchanging of presents, decorated homes and trees, Christmas carols and all promises of good will, cheer and resolutions.
Unfortunately, the downside of much of this is that all sorts of awkward arrangements get made involving which children and which adults go where and when. There are families where the children alternate between their mother’s family and father’s family, other families where the parents decide to go on “the day” or the day before “the day.” Some families even alternate Christmas day with the night before Christmas. It’s a beautiful time of the year. There’s lots of good feelings. But it is kind of a mess.
I thought initially to write about all the other possible holidays that might be celebrated with more abandon during this period to make up for some of this. For example, there is the African-American holiday Kwanzaa. There is Boxing Day, there is Pearl Harbor Day, there is Hanukkah, there is a day to remember the Virgin of Guadalupe. I also looked at some really strange days during November and December, such as Broccoli Day or Tennis Ball Week. Some are more important than others, but I think none fit the bill for something we could all enjoy nationally as a joyous but serious event.
In looking into this, though, I came to realize what is so compelling about our three major holidays during “the holidays” (I include New Year’s Day) is that they involve a feast, a gathering together of family and friends, feelings of good will, ritual and, for some, an exchange of presents.
What would solve the problem of our multiple family situations, it seemed to me, was not to have just three of these extraordinary national holidays during this period to battle over, but five. We could also elevate two more holidays that seem to be shared and enjoyed during this time into a higher and better experience, for a grand total of seven.
Here are the two new holidays I propose. One would be “Seventh Day.” The other would be “Family Tree Day.”
“Family Tree Day” would take place every year around November 15. It could be held every second Sunday of the month. All nuclear families, with children or part-time children or no children, could erect a small bare tree in the living room. Most leaves are off small deciduous trees by this time. It would not be too hard to find one. An hour before dinner time, the people in the family who are present would examine the tree, go over to it, appropriately place tags created ahead of time bearing the names of family members on the different branches and limbs so as to remember people. Keep in mind that one’s name might be on many family trees in many living rooms. The immediate focus would be the tree where one is. But a further thing to think about would be the other households where such trees were. After that, single small presents could be exchanged. I would think it would focus on things to wear for the upcoming winter weather.
Then there would be a dinner, all fresh and organic, of vegetables, meat and fruits from the surrounding area, a reminder of what is healthy to eat and what is not, which, of course, is going to be the big turkey feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Seventh Day” would come between Thanksgiving and Christmas, preferably the first Sunday in December. But it has to be Sunday.
“Seventh Day” would be a feast to celebrate the day that God rested. It’s in the Bible, in the Old Testament, so it could be shared by the various religious sects of Christians and Jews. It could also be celebrated by non-believers and believers of other religions, in the same way they tolerate but ultimately join in at Christmas. I think that for this holiday, children should be asked to make their personal artistic interpretation of the earth. Give them each a basketball, paints, crayons, clay, pencils and pens. Put the finished products around the living room on side tables and mantelpieces and make a big fuss over all of them.
Now we come to the two holidays that already exist that I think should be elevated in status to join with the other five in creating a deck of seven for the adults to choose from when deciding who goes to which and when.
Halloween is already such an interesting holiday. Nobody really has a clue why everybody dresses up the way they do, but they do do that, and then they go out trick or treating in the waning light of the end of the day and for an hour after. I would make Halloween an official national holiday, with all the appropriate government offices and schools closed. This holiday would continue to take place on October 31, whatever the day might be. But it would begin a lot earlier.
By 10 a.m., not only the kids should get in costume, but all the adults. The sun is shining then, and everybody can see what everybody looks like. In every town in America, there should be a parade down Main Street at that hour.
After that, at every grammar school in America, all the kids and their parents should assemble for a party in the gymnasium for one hour, at which time first prizes would be given out for the best kid’s costume and the best adult’s costume. A late buffet lunch would be brought out at noon. It should consist of only healthy things to eat—fruits and vegetables and broiled meats and fish from not only here and there but everywhere. It would be a lesson in healthy eating for not only the kids and their families but also for the cafeteria staffs. I think all this should be paid for out of our school taxes. The rest of the day would pass. Nap time? After that, the kids go out trick or treating.
The second already existing holiday I would expand upon would be Super Bowl Sunday. It already is a big day. I would make it an official big day, and a feast day of barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, soda, chips and cole slaw. In other words, I would leave it alone.
But I would have it be the third Sunday in January, not the first Sunday in February. It used to be the third Sunday, then the fourth Sunday, but it got lengthened again about 10 years ago to create suspense, hype, advertising and build-up. I’d have the government calculate all the money saved by not having that second suspenseful week after the two teams are decided, and I’d give that money to charity. Nationwide, I think the money raised would be about a $100 billion. Then I’d announce, at the conclusion of Super Bowl Sunday, that the holiday season is over and now let’s get back to work (a week early.)
Here it all is, in order. Halloween, Family Tree Day, Thanksgiving Day, Seventh Day, Christmas, New Years and Super Bowl Sunday. Seven holidays in ten weeks.
And we deserve it.
On December 7, 2013, the author of this article will play the role of Santa Claus in his sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer in the parade through downtown East Hampton.