One Father’s Day, when I was 6 years old, I asked my dad why there was no such thing as “Kids’ Day,” and he said, “Because every day is kids’ day.”
And that’s my feeling about Presidents Day. Every day is Presidents Day. Besides, I’m not quite sure if not getting my mail is going to make me think any better of them.
Are we really in danger of forgetting about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln if we don’t have a holiday once a year? And what about all of the other presidents? Who can forget what Millard Fillmore did for his country? I sure can’t. Because I never knew what he did in the first place. But it must be right up there with all the things Zachary Taylor and Franklin Pierce did that are so well remembered. Of course, most people appreciate getting a day off work for whatever reason, but why can’t we just call it that, Workers’ Day Off, instead of pretending we’re honoring George Washington by buying a mattress for half off?
The reason I’m targeting Presidents Day is that we really ought to start organizing our holidays better. Of the 10 federal holidays, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day all fall within seven weeks of one another. But after Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and Presidents Day in February, the next holiday is at the end of May. We’ve just had six holidays in three months.
And when the holidays fall on a Thursday or Tuesday, a lot of people take the day before or after the weekend off, too. When you add in unofficial holidays such as Black Friday, Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day, it’s amazing that we ever get anything done.
Let’s think outside the box on this. What would be the harm if we moved Thanksgiving to the second Thursday in March? What if we changed New Year’s Day to May 1? It would space out federal holidays throughout the year instead of jamming them all at the end and beginning of the year.
It’s not as if it’s going to hurt anybody to move Thanksgiving out of November; it might actually help. Instead of spending your Thanksgiving holiday in an airport because of weather delays around the country, moving it to a more pleasant time of year would be a boon to everyone.
Dates are important, but so is common sense. Trust me, the Pilgrims aren’t going to care. And it would coincide with the annual Spring Break Binge Drinking holiday, which is always fun for the whole family – if your whole family is between the ages of 18 and 24. Unlike autoworkers, cashiers, hotel maids and ditch diggers, college kids work hard. They need a two-week break a few months after their last two-week break before they get the next three months off.
If you’ve ever seen the shivering crowd watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, you may have said to yourself, “What is wrong with those people? Are they insane?” And, of course, they are. They should all be getting some kind of help. But if you saw that same crowd on a balmy May day, waiting for a shoe to drop (yes, we should change it from a giant ball to a big shoe; it just makes more sense), it’d be easier to understand the party atmosphere. And it’s not that far-fetched. A lot of the world celebrates May Day already. We would put our spin on it.
Would Columbus be upset if we moved his day to early August? It seems as if half the country wants to stop calling it “Columbus Day” anyway. After all, the people he ran into here had discovered America at least 12,000 years before he did. Why doesn’t that count?
I know, I know, these are traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they all had beginnings. Why can’t they have endings?
• Jim Mullen is a syndicated columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.