Monday, December 01, 2003
Let's revisit the holidays By Andrea BushalaPhoto courtesy of Andrea Bushala Author Andrea Bushala and her children (clockwise from top left) Christopher, 11, Alexander, 12, Caroline, 4, and Elizabeth, 7
My friend Kim just canceled Christmas. Not permanently, but she wants to celebrate it every other year. I agree with her thinking. With all the pre-holiday planning, the gift shopping and food shopping and food preparation, not to mention wall-to-wall company, it's just too much for most moms to really enjoy the meaning of the holiday. You finish packing up the tree lights, pick up the last few dried pine needles and heck, it's May already. Twenty-four months between Christmases would be just the right amount of recovery time to allow everyone to be excited about the upcoming holiday again.
Her reasoning got me thinking. If moms rather than religious and civic leaders planned the holidays for the year, our holidays would be a lot different. If the people for whom the work for each holiday fell to had a say, I think getting through the holidays would be much easier.
New Year's Day New Year's would kick off promptly at 9 p.m. on Dec. 31. Nine allows you time to put the smallest of children to bed and then pour champagne for those old enough to enjoy the event. With enough time for a "nine o'clock" kiss, a little reminiscing and clean up, you're still in bed by 10 p.m. Starting off the new year on more than five hours sleep would also help moms everywhere keep their resolution not to yell at the kids so much. At least for the first day or two.
Washington's birthday First, it was celebrated on Feb. 22. Then George's birthday was moved to the third Monday in February to give people a long holiday. Finally, it was combined with Lincoln's birthday because apparently he is not important enough anymore to warrant his own day. When my kids told me that the dates were combined because George and Abe hung out together on their birthdays, I realized our kids aren't spending enough time in school learning. I say cancel this holiday altogether and give those kids another day in the classroom.
Memorial Day Moms probably wouldn't want to mess with this weekend because everyone enjoys the emblematic start of summer. Even if it is always raining and never above 50 degrees where we live, I would miss the opportunity to watch my husband try and cook for a crowd. Plus, it reminds me that I can pull my Keds out of the closet. At this point they're the only thing in my summer wardrobe whiter than my thighs.
Fourth of July/Independence Day This holiday should actually be two separate dates. The Fourth of July, celebrating our country's freedom, should optimally be celebrated in the fall. Cooler weather is just better for parades and cookouts. And in the fall, sunset is earlier, so fireworks could commence at a time better suited for children, the only ones who really enjoy them anyway. Even the bugs would be gone, making the whole event perfect.
Independence Day could then become a new holiday celebrating parents who survive the summer. Celebrated the first full day of school, the new Independence Day would be dedicated to celebrating grocery shopping, reading the newspaper or even using the bathroom completely independently of children. The event would take place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., making drinking before 5 p.m. not only acceptable, but mandatory.
Columbus Day The guy never actually landed in the United States. He apparently had a worse sense of direction than my father and hit the Bahamas instead. Again, a fact that none of my four children knew. I say keep ‘em in school and give the day off to the Bahamians.
Labor Day Labor Day began in 1882 to recognize all those who labor. Work days longer than eight hours had been deemed inhumane and workers banded together to secure their rights. It's been 110 years, and I say mothers might do well to unite. Our workdays are still sunup until sundown and our salaries are miniscule. Working conditions are often questionable and the clients can be downright brutal. Here's my proposal for Labor Day: If you have gone through labor (or a laborious adoption), the day is yours. You are mandated to lie flat on your back and relax for the exact number of hours you were in labor with your first child. You are allowed to do only those activities that you enjoy. Read a book, nibble on chocolates, listen to music, watch a chick flick…then go to bed. When you get up, it's a whole new school year—and Independence Day.
Halloween This is a holiday that should not even be attempted unless your children are over the age of 5. Little children are not excited about having older kids who are dressed in scary costumes ring their doorbells and TAKE candy out of their homes. Trust me on this. And if you are the type of mom who starts talking about how much you enjoy sewing junior's costume on the first day of school, you should be held legally responsible for sewing costumes for at least three other children in your neighborhood.
Thanksgiving In theory, moms love this holiday. The reality doesn't hit until you are trying to roast a bird that weighs as much as your youngest child while baking pies, hemming your daughter's dress and cleaning the bathroom before the 20 guests arrive. I suggest keeping the kids in school extra on Thanksgiving Day, dismissing them around 5 p.m. so they arrive home after the other guests to a perfect meal and a really calm mother. That would be something to be thankful about.
Christmas/Hanukkah Kim's plan goes here. Held every 24 months, the workload would be exactly half of what it is now. What adult wouldn't be excited about 50 percent less work and expense? Run it by Santa and see what he says.
Andrea Bushala is a writer and the mother of four living in Evanston