Unbalanced: The anti-holiday holiday

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

I’m thankful for many things, and I appreciate my sweetheart, my mom, my dad, secretaries, bosses and groundhogs. But we seem to have lots of “holidays” whose biggest significance is keeping florists and greeting-card companies in business.

So in the spirit of those made-up celebrations, I hereby propose we institute an anti-holiday holiday.

A day to, sans guilt, Goodwill that ugly sweater from Aunt Mable. A day to feed last year’s fruitcake to the neighbor’s endlessly barking dog. A day to unfriend annoying Facebook folks. Most important of all, a day when nobody has to host a dinner, cook-out, cocktail party or gathering of any sort.

A day, in other words, to celebrate not one single thing.

Am I being a Grinch? Pah. Have you seen any Thanksgiving movies? Things always get ugly when you overstuff a house with overstuffed family members who are supposed to be friendly and thankful and instead get all grumpy and nasty and make everyone wish they weren’t related to anybody.

Or what about Valentine’s Day? I love it not. Should you buy that new girl/boyfriend a gift? How much should it cost? What if they don’t buy you one? Tricky, tricky that day.

And boo! to Halloween, the beggars’ feast that requires we buy lots of candy and then have to go buy lots more after we finish off the first batch the day before the goblins come calling.

It is hard to be a Grinch about Independence Day. July 4th offers a great sentiment, beer and, often, good weather. Unfortunately, it also comes with fireworks, guaranteed to terrorize small children and dogs, and to maim the unwary.

The best thing about an anti-holiday holiday is that there’s no pressure to fulfill any social expectation of what one should be doing to celebrate a holiday. No gifts or cards or candy or flowers to buy; no cooking, cleaning or decorating; no traveling; and definitely no sentimental mush.

Greeting card companies would no doubt love to jump on the anti-holiday bandwagon. But cards for this non-event would be non-sellers, as we all get in the swing of things and refuse to spend $3.49 on a non-sentiment. And any decorating would be frowned upon, even though those ghastly blow-up figures some people like to plop in their yards are probably the epitome of anti-decorating for an anti-holiday.

But what, you might wonder, differentiates my holiday idea from Labor Day? Easy — it would be a day off for everyone except teachers, because school would be in session. Non-teachers could laze around and enjoy this anti-holiday holiday, knowing that their kids are in the hands of (undoubtedly cranky) professional minders.

Yes, teachers might object to this anti-holiday rule, so we’ll probably have to institute something just for them, too. Fair enough. We’ll call it summer.

Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.