Monday, October 12

To Be or Not To Be (a holiday)

Poor Christopher Columbus.

A bazillion days at sea, freaking out about his job security because his boss is such a royal pain in the ass. He finally gets here and thinks he's done his job, getting to the Indies, but he sorta screws up, and basically "discovers" America and unwittingly names the poor natives "Indians", and creating a lifetime of confusing racial misnomers and land struggles over potential casino properties.

But he got here, as did his peeps -- the entourage we now know as the crew that rolled up in the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. After sailing the ocean blue. Et cetera, et cetera.

And, yes Americans. This is a big deal.

At least, that what always driven home to me when I was kid. I mean, forGodssakes, we had to learn songs about it, and were usually in the season of talking about Plymouth Rock, Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving within this 2-month span every single year of my life. (OK, maybe not in college -- but we did find an awful lot of Turkey Tetrazzini and canned cranberry in the caf this time of year ).

Plus, the entire educated American population lives by this autumnal timetable:

  • ** End of summer

  • ** Labor Day, 3 day weekend ensues

  • ** Rosh Hashanah, Happy New Year's to the Jewish population!

  • ** Yom Kippur. Day of Atonement, and I still don't know what this means, other than another day off.

  • ** Columbus Day. Thanks for discovering America, Christopher, so we could have another 3 day weekend.

  • ** Mischief Day / Halloween combo

  • ** All Saint's Day. If you're a fortunate parochial school kid, this is a day off.

  • ** Teacher's Convention in Jersey! 4 day weekend, while the educators of NJ go to AC. It's a party in the Dirty Jerz!!

  • ** Election Day

  • ** Veteran's Day

  • ** Thanksgiving. 4 day weekend, rounding out November with two full operating days of class.

  • ** December. Maybe another three or four full operating days left after Christmas, Hannukah, New Year's, Kwanzaa, general holiday merriment when work does not get conducted.

Did you count? That means like about a dozen or so days of actual business or class during 3rd & 4th quarter. This is a well-known fact.

So when did Columbus Day become optional???

Banks were closed today, post office was still closed, but a lot of people still had work (self included) and some schools were in session!

When did we suddenly stop uniformly raising our glasses and toasting to this important day in American history?? I mean, isn't this as big as Independence Day? Like, we can't even really celebrate our liberties as Americans on an annual basis when we don't also remind people how we first got here and became oppressed to begin with!! I imagine within this lifetime, kids won't even remember who or what Columbus Day is!

My future hypothetical child: Mommy mommy. It's Fourth of July! Tell me again why we celebrate our independence.

Me: Well, Reginald, when I was a child, we used to commemorate a day in the fall, when um... I think his name was Chris or something. Jesus Chris? Chris Matthews? I don't really remember right now, but anyhoo, he was headed to Indiana and instead he landed in Ohio... right in time for Thanksgiving, because the pilgrims wanted to celebrate it in... what's the name of the town. Oh yes, Columbus Ohio! That was his name, Chris Columbus. But the natives resisted, and held him hostage in a mall. For three days.

Future hypothetical Reginald: Wow! Three whole days?? In a shopping mall?

Me: Yes! Extraordinary, isn't it. And so for a time, we would celebrate by having special sales for those three days. I can't remember why we stopped celebrating it. It was around the same time SuperBowl Sunday became a national holiday.

Future hypothetical Reginald: WHAT?! You mean to say SuperBowl Sunday didn't used to be a holiday??

Me: No, sweetheart. We used to have to go into work drunk the next day. Those were such rough times.

Knock it off, America. Stop taking away our holidays. You're screwing up the whole fabric of what our ancestors have passed on to us, and all the potential bargains our descendants might not ever get to experience.

So let's stand up and defend the tradition that is Columbus Day, and will always forever after be until we can't even remember that the day has nothing to do with the state of Ohio.


(Remember to shut the lights though, economy's been rough.)

If we're lucky, respect will be restored to the day that the Spanish royalty remember what they didn't like about hiring Italian explorers who were bad with directions.

If we're really lucky, by staging a nation-wide work strike, a four day holiday will emerge... Columbus Day... followed by National Unemployment Day.


  1. Well I didn't have off today (I teach fourth grade) for Columbus year i am pushing for a Vasco da Gama know...for variety...

  2. Brilliant thinking, Miss Mary. I'm glad to see our nation's youth have your clever mind to educate them. If we can get the nation to respect all the great conquistadors of centuries past, I think we could probably score your a forty-five day school year, too. I'm quite fond of Magellan and Cabot myself.