It didn’t occur to me to check the calendar until it was too late: I missed National Sons’ Day. I have a wonderful son who I think about fondly and often. Along with his older sister, I’m equally proud and I meant to show no favoritism in wishing Courtney a happy National Daughters’ Day.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of either of these days of celebration until last Sunday (NDD) and last Tuesday. You have to admit that Tuesday is a pretty lousy day to celebrate anything other than tacos but there was Facebook flooded with congratulatory notices—none of which I saw until Wednesday. I don’t do the whole belated thing because I don’t wish to appear to others as being forgetful or out of step with things.
I wonder who makes up these holidays.
Mother’s Day has a rich history dating back to 1907 when somebody named Anna Jarvis was so distraught over her mother’s death that she thought everybody in America should share her grief, even though few of us knew her or cared. What started as a simple celebration in a Methodist church became a national holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson, who presumably also had a mother, did whatever it is that presidents do to make something official. (Actually, Mother’s Day dates back forty years earlier that pushed an anti-war sentiment loosely based on “Lysistrata.” It never caught on.)
In fewer than six years, Hallmark Cards began selling greeting cards and See’s Candy started packaging chocolates in honor of mothers. The flower industry began pushing carnations as the flower of choice, restaurants doubled their prices on that second Sunday in May, and Anna Jarvis went nuts. Obviously forgetting that she lived in America, she protested the crass commercialization of what was essentially meant to be a somber day honoring mothers who regularly went to church. Or something like that.
Father’s Day, of course, predates Mother’s Day by some six centuries and was focused on the Feast of Saint Joseph who, if you’ll remember, wasn’t a father at all. (There’s probably a Stepfathers’ Day somewhere on the calendar.)
In America, Father’s Day is not as big a day as Mother’s Day for a variety of reasons. Men generally don’t care much about greeting cards, especially those that today cost in the neighborhood of thirty-eight dollars; also, chocolates and flowers don’t really do much for many of us. Most of us don’t need any more neckties. What we’d really like is a single-malt Scotch and the day off to play golf or watch NASCAR races for six uninterrupted hours or so.
In all likelihood it seems that if you can name a family member’s rank there is a national holiday at the ready.
Siblings, grandparents, in-laws, cousins, aunts, and uncles are all celebrated in the Hallmark spotlight. It is for those reasons that I’m happy to be relative-free…except for Geri and the kids. Now that I know about the holidays honoring my children, I can avoid the cost of a Hallmark card and merely mention them on Facebook. And I promise to continue to make Eggs Benedict for Geri on Mother’s Day.
It took Congressional action to help pick the days on which Mother’s and Father’s days fall. There are several more significant holidays whose designated dates are a mystery. Christmas, for instance.
There was a pop song declaring that Jesus was a Sagittarius. If one was born on December 25th, that person is, I believe, a Capricorn, missing the Sagittarius deadline by four days. Christmas, a holiday celebrating consumerism at untold heights, was chosen by popes and cardinals and other church officials, to coincide with the winter solstice—a holiday favored by pagans and heathens whom the Church needed to donate to the Church. By combining the holidays, the cash poured in while the Church adopted just enough unholy traditions to keep everybody happy. The Christmas tree, for instance, is made from a pine tree that doesn’t grow in the Middle East. As for snow? The last time it snowed in Bethlehem was centuries before Mel Tormé wrote “The Christmas Song” (“chestnuts roasting…” etc.).
For the Christians’ other most celebrated holiday, Easter, it falls sometime in what we Westerners call the Spring.
Using a mathematical formula that would confound Galileo, some committee or cabal meets annually to pick the next date of celebration based on the arbitrary position of left tackles in college football. Then they get the news to the calendar folks who are careful to print them on the pages opposite of naked firemen or cute puppies.
Jewish holidays are even more complicated, mostly because they’re in Hebrew. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, and Hanukkah are each calculated to fall on dates that are expressed each year—this year it’s 5783—that requires mathematical skills to determine. Most of the calendar folks ignore the dates altogether, opting to remind us instead of important days on the Rotary Club datebook.
This past week was a banner week for national not-quite holidays. Just yesterday, it was Pumpkin Spice Day, International Coffee Day, and National Black Dog Day. And last Wednesday, it was National Drink a Beer Day, a day honoring the memory of André the Giant who, allegedly, consumed 119 12-ounce glasses of beer in six hours.
I’m still waiting for National Hostility Day and Post-Punk Disco Day, the latter of which should be celebrated with disco balls made with tinted mirrors.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Sausage, Leek & White Bean Soup
With each passing day, we move deeper into soup weather. Enjoy!
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
2 large carrots, washed and sliced
2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced
1 (14-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 quarts chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.
Slice the sausage into medallions and place directly in the pan.
Brown for about 3-4 minutes per side, stirring to break up the sausage slightly.
Add the leek and garlic and stir to combine.
Cook for 4-5 minutes until the leek starts to soften.
Add the carrots and celery and cook another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the beans, chicken stock, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the carrots and celery are tender and the sausage is cooked through.