I was at my monthly library board meeting last night when the coming year’s holiday schedule of library closings was brought up for a vote. It occurred to me that if we could really vote when our holidays would be, I would cast my vote for Canadian Thanksgiving, which falls this coming Monday. George Washington was clearly thinking like a Virginian when he designated the fourth Thursday of November, 1789 to be a day of national thanksgiving.
Had he been a North Country boy, he would certainly have gone for the second Monday in October. The harvest is in and mostly still fresh. By the end of November, everything in the area other than starch and meat is coming from California, Florida, Mexico or Israel. In October the chance of good weather is high, while I can’t count how many times I’ve taken life in hand to blast through lake effect blizzards going to or coming from Thanksgiving gatherings. I gave thanks every time I reached the driveway unslaughtered. And besides, it is too close to Christmas. Thanksgiving, for all practical purposes, has been eaten up by the holiday shopping season, which now starts five minutes after Halloween.
Of course, such a sensible change raises the thorny issue of what to do with Columbus Day. I wouldn’t want to drop it altogether; Italian Americans are known for their temper. My wife suggested “Explorers Day” celebrating all the intrepid navigators from Leif Ericson to Columbus to Champlain. It could occur in the first week of August, when Columbus actually first set foot on the (South) American mainland (Venezuela) in 1498, or early August 1502, when he first set foot on the North American mainland (in Mexico). He never did set foot on what is now U.S. soil. Plus, August has no national holidays at all, so it wouldn’t feel crowded there.
Care to rearrange any other holidays? Like–what’s up with Easter? The first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox? Really? Care to propose any new holidays? Have at it in a comment below.