George Stahl: Smaller Holidays Matter

By George Stahl
Special to the Sun

Today, October 2 is the 275th day of the year, and that means there are only 89 days left until we are with someone we love, counting backwards from 10 and when we get to zero, we yell,’ Happy New Year’, and get a kiss. That’s probably putting the cart before the horse.

Really? Have you been in Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart lately, like yesterday? What did you see besides nuts and bolts, tools and lumber? Yeah, right! Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations! Altogether, neatly arranged in sections one after the other, and all screaming, buy me! You need me this year. Don’t be the one on your block without one of me this time!

Scary stuff, turkey stuffing stuff, Santa stocking stuffers stuff, and all the trimmings to go with it, making the last days of the year something special, all while it’s still summer. The first day of fall was just this past Monday, and the first day of winter isn’t until, December 21.

Why rush it? Why move so fast to get through the year? I realize that merchants see Christmas as their big chance to make it all worthwhile, and I appreciate that. Why? Because, according to a poll by ‘Yesmail Interactive’, 38.1 percent of people start their Christmas shopping before November, 69.8 percent begin their frenzy before December 1 and nearly 70 percent of shoppers are in the Christmas buying mood for all of September, October and November. That is a huge reason to get that stuff on the shelves so far in advance! It is us who drive the buggy. The merchants are only answering the demand from we consumers.

With all of this attention being given to these three holidays, however, some of the more fungible celebrations are not getting their due. We, have dictated the fate of those other holidays. They are of no less importance than the others, it’s just that they don’t get the same level of hyped publicity. Let’s imagine that were different. We’ll briefly examine two of these such days and see what it would be like if life treated them differently. A sort of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ scenario for holidays.

Today, October 2, is ‘National Guardian Angels Day. Just like Clarence was to Jimmy Stewart in the movie, today is the day we are supposed to celebrate our own Guardian Angel. A poll showed recently that more than 75 percent of Americans believe in Guardian Angels. That’s about 245.4 million people. That’s an impressive number of people who believe that we all have a personal Clarence, watching over us, and helping us.

According to believers, these Guardian Angels do more than push us out of impending death. They also give guidance when we choose to listen. So, how do you celebrate a Guardian Angel. You can’t see him or her, you can’t touch them, and the conversations are usually one sided. (If not, see a preacher, priest, minister, shaman, or rabbi immediately.)
These superheroes of the spiritual realm do not eat, so, no cake. They do not wear clothes, no ties or scarfs, and they do not have a need for money. So, what do you get the Guardian Angle who has everything? Easy, right? You say a prayer for them, and whisper, ‘thank you.’ Or, you can ring a bell. (It got Clarence his wings.) Or, what if, instead of those other three holidays on display at the stores, they put up Guardian Angel displays.

Touting Guardian Angel Day, and making a hoopla about it, beginning back in July, right after the Celebrations for the Fourth. ‘Only 90 days until Guardian Angle Day, are you ready?’ Sorry Angel, it isn’t going to happen. The creepy smiley pumpkin, the turkey and the guy in the red suit win out. Keep up the good work though.

The second holiday that gets far too less of what it deserves, has actually been around since 1872. It was then that a man named Phileas Fogg accepted a 20,000-pound wager that he could not circle the globe in 80 days or less. October 2 has become known as ‘Phileas Fogg Wager Day’, and is observed around the world. Usually with an honor or two thrown in for his creator, Jules Vern. Now, imagine walking into a box store and seeing a huge display of miniature hot air balloons, scenes made of figurines depicting life in the 1872 London Fogg called home. Models and blow up figures of Big Ben, trains, and planes and other modes of transportation of the day from around the world. Caricatures of Fogg and his entourage of travelers. A huge banner across it all which reads, ‘Happy Travels Foggers!’. And yes, these displays would be out well in advance of the holiday, and sales in Fogg’s name could be seen all around the valley, and it is only August. ‘The Phileas Fogg Super Sale Day! Up to 70 percent Off Most Items!’

The point here is, the ridiculousness of how ridiculous the situation has grown. When we were children, the Sav-On Drugstore, J.C. Penny’s, and the newly developed malls usually kept their Christmas stuff in the back until the last week in November, and after Thanksgiving it all came out. There was no rush on our part. We relished the joy of the anticipation. Without fail, for all the years I lived in my parent’s home, we always had the day after Thanksgiving set aside to decorate the yard and the house. That was our idea of ‘Black Friday’. Santa and the plastic Jesus came down from the rafters in the garage, and Christmas was really just around the corner.

The last thing we saw was a sign that read, ‘Christmas is only 83 Days Away!’

Wait! That’s from today! Man, I have to really get going, that’s only 5 shopping days left in procrastinators time! You coming?!