Practically every day is a holiday – especially if you are retired. The month of February, however, offers some particularly interesting opportunities to admire the creativity of the greeting card industry or to explore some of the folklore or religious origins of some holidays.
Of course there are officially recognized holidays such as Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February each year. It was derived from a consolidation of George Washington’s birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but expanded to celebrate the achievements of every President. Public offices are closed on those days and, I am sure, every government employee spends most of the day reflecting back on the importance of Presidential achievements in our country’s history – that is when they are not watching TV or shopping all day.
February also contains many nongovernmental and perhaps more user-friendly holidays. My favorite is Valentine’s Day. However, there are also days marked as national days set aside for the celebration of such things as Cherry Pie Day, National Pistachio Day, National Tortilla Chip Day and National Gumdrop Day. There are also many other February holidays and I apologize to the lovers of Groundhogs, Dog Biscuits, Kite Flying, Umbrellas, and Plum Pudding if I have in any way offended by not mentioning those commemorations.
One of the more obscure days to think about, especially for elected officials, is National Lame Duck Day. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution took effect on that day in 1933 and of course solved the problem of who might be in charge if some evil befell both the President and the Vice President.
In a sense, however, National Lame Duck Day is a celebration for all of us – a true “Peoples holiday.” None of us have any guarantee of permanence. Our lives are short and precious. So are our terms of service as elected or appointed officials. They represent precious little time for wonderful accomplishments. They are never to be squandered by using them only for day-to-day bureaucratic processing as opposed to thinking ahead to how we can serve the great body of citizens in the creation of the future of which we can be proud.
The Winter Olympics also open every four years – usually in February – next time in 2016. They represent a reminder for all of us of the importance of putting aside the issues of the moment in favor of longer lasting principles. International sport can be a metaphor for honorable behavior and exciting competition – notwithstanding our future “Ambassador” to North Korea Dennis Rodman and the many substance abusing, behaviorally impaired sports persons we read about every day. Getting lost in those headlines as well as the stories about the extraordinarily high pay of some sports “heroes,” detract our attention from the real heroes of society like teachers, doctors, letter carriers, police, fire and other public employees. It is important not to forget that there is real wonder in athletic competition by the tens of millions of kids, seniors and others who enjoy the exercise and the comradeship of sports.
Looking at the array of holidays we have created every month should lead us to appreciate how important it is to celebrate. It almost doesn’t matter what we celebrate. The idea of a brief pause to think about and appreciate something or someone very special in our lives is a wonderful activity for all of us to follow. In the HR Doctor’s view, a regular dose of appreciation for all that we have and all the reasons we have to celebrate, is every bit as important to a long and joyful life as losing weight, cutting out tobacco, and exercising every day.
Finally, with regard to being thankful on Valentine’s Day, I have to pause, as I try to do every day, to appreciate how incredibly lucky I was on June 29, 1968 when I first met the beautiful HR Spouse Charlotte. On that day I won the “companion for life” lottery and I hope I always pause for that appreciation.