Our Lives on Holidays
On Temporal Naming Rights


I was driving down Harbor Boulevard last weekend when I saw it arriving. You know what I’m talking about.  It started with a 10 foot banner that said “Noel.” Next I saw twinkly lights on the hedges and palms around South Coast Plaza.  On Sunflower, cranes were positioning reindeer light sculptures.  A block away a chain link fence in a Home Depot parking lot marked the boundaries of a future Douglas Fir holding yard.  Jesus Christ on a bike, I’m sick of it already and it’s not even December.  Here we go — the slide into obsessive oblivion — our head into the holidays.

Generally, I’m at peace with the concept of holidays provided they live up to their name, holy days — meaning whole, complete, perfected, sacred.  Unfortunately, holy holidays have long ago jumped the shark.

Today, thanks to the miracle of the marketplace, holy days are primarily dates for focusing ad campaigns — a time to consider a giftwrapped Wii, iPad, Chevy Volt or Lego Tub. 

If you’re lucky, you might even get to take the holy day off.  But don’t get too excited.  You’ll need permission for that.  Of course, you’ll never get every holiday off work.  If you did the economy would crash.

December — that Christmassy time of year — is awash with potential work force sabaticals that aren’t going to happen.  There’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Boxing Day,  Pearl Harbor Day, Human Rights Day, World AIDS Day, International Day of the Disabled Person, National Pie Day, National Noodle Ring Day, Underdog Day, and my favorite Wear a Plunger On Your Head Day.  And the list is growing.

Rather than add to the holiday glut, a cutback in holidays — in order to refocus on holy stuff — could start with a ban on all holidays named after people.  Setting aside a holiday to celebrate a person is just plain wrong.  It eventually takes the holy out of their holiday.  It’s the natural order of things.  There are two reasons for this.

First, the asshole factor.  Take Columbus Day for example.  Why on earth does the Post Office take a day off to celebrate a bastard ass-kisser who stopped at nothing — not even brutality and slavery — in the service of self-promotion?  It begs the question of why we don’t celebrate Idi Amin Day.

Second:  Even if you do name a holiday after a person who happens to be not of the asshole ilk — say, for example Jesus— eventually, every marketer will jump on the Jesus bandwagon.  Soon they’ll be rebranding every idea Jesus had about the human spirit over the material world.  Oh yeah, that already happened. 

Come to think of it, that’s why — way back in the 20th Century — I opposed making Martin Luther King’s Birthday a holiday.  I was called a rascist.  But I had higher hopes for Dr. King.  I had a dream about his holiday and it was a bad one.  I figured that if we made a national holiday for the good doctor, eventually some son of a bitch like Glenn Beck would be hosting a holiday special on MLK Day sponsored by KBR and PBR.  I saw a future for Martin Luther King as the “I Have a Dream” brand calendar icon. I couldn’t go there.  Rather than give King a holiday, I proposed that we take those other person holidays — Lincoln’s Birthday, Columbus Day, Christmas — off the holiday calendar.  Then we could start over. I was sure that Martin Luther King would have agreed.  He seemed like that kind of guy to me.  Unfortunately, I was among the few.

Now that it’s 2010, I figure it’s time to reconsider my personless holiday plan again.  But let’s go further this time.  Let’s ban ALL holidays starting now.  Every one of them.  Next, let’s remember that holidays happen every year because that’s how long it takes us to orbit the sun.  What do you really want to remember every orbit?  How about Gravity Day?  Big Bang Day?  Music Day?  Do Nothing Day? Hug Day?  Sex Day? Get High Day?  Wear a Plunger On Your Head Day? There But For the Grace of God Go I Day?  Sins on Our Behalf Day?  Pulling Your Head Out of Your Ass Day?

Until that day, that holy day when we recognize what holidays could (and should) be, I’m going to, at least, take Jesus Day off my holiday calendar. I think I’ll rename December 25th Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Everyone Day.  I think that Jesus would approve of that.  Any seconds?  Dr. King?

— Nathan Callahan

First Broadcast November 26, 2010

© NathanCallahan.com / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved


Broadcasting Fridays at 8:50 am from KUCI 88.9 fm Orange County, California