A holiday is “a day set aside by custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work, are suspended or reduced.” (Source: Wikipedia, a journalist’s most trusted authority, next to Twitter.)
It is late September and “the holidays” are nearly upon us. Somehow, it doesn’t seem that normal activities are being reduced. No, it feels as if normal activities are being intensified by the addition of many abnormal, or “seasonal” activities.
From today through Jan. 2, the days all run together into a sort of partying marathon, generously interspersed with more preparation and procurement than the D-Day invasion — the difference being that D-Day had a centralized planning group, whereas the holidays have approximately 350 million planners (just in the U.S.), most of whom are working without coordination and often at cross-purposes.
Here’s what we’re facing; not every activity will apply to everyone:
Oktoberfest — Yom Kippur — Sukkot — Columbus Day — Start Christmas Shopping — Decide on a Costume — Plan Thanksgiving Trip — Prepare to Shelter in Place —Friday the 13th — Pumpkin Festival (Shelter in Place) — Bosses’ Day —Halloween — All Saints Day/Dia de Los Muertos — All Souls Day — Daylight Saving Time ends — Attend Year-End Conferences — Election Day — Guy Fawkes’ Day — Veterans Day — Gifts for Family — Caregiver Appreciation Day — Gifts for Friends — Sadie Hawkins Day — Start Christmas Shopping (Second Reminder) — Clean Your Refrigerator Day — Great American Smokeout — Buy the Turkey — Decide On Side Dishes — Brine the Turkey or Pack for Trip — Thanksgiving Day — Black Friday —Eat Leftovers — Cyber Monday — Eat More Leftovers — Put Up House Decorations — Pearl Harbor Day — Year-End Evaluations — Advent— 2018 Office Budget — Gift for “Secret Santa” at Office — Hanukkah — Office Holiday Party — Get The Tree — Put Up House Decorations — Holiday Cards/Annoying Letters — Attend That Other Holiday Party You Get Invited to Every Year — Get 2018 Calendar — Get Tired of Christmas Music in Every Retail Business — Visit Santa at the Mall — Buy Eggnog — Hang Up on 39th Consecutive Unwanted Phone Call Asking You for Money — Winter Solstice — OK, This Time I Really Mean it, START CHRISTMAS SHOPPING! — Wrap Presents — Bake Cookies — Pack for Trip — Watch Reruns of “Classic” Christmas Shows — Do Something Charitable — Sing Carols — Christmas Eve — Put Presents Under the Tree — Set Cookies Out for Santa (preferably with scotch) — Christmas Day — Boxing Day — Return Gifts that Don’t Fit — Kwanzaa — Choose a Resolution — Visit BevMo — New Year’s Eve —New Year’s Day — Begin Recuperation — and Start Rolling that Boulder Back up the Hill, Sysiphus!
(Phew! I’m exhausted just from typing this.)
Why are our big events so concentrated in the last few months of the year? Why do we have that three-month gap between the three-day weekends of Presidents’ Day and Memorial Day? (St. Pat’s, Passover, Easter, and Cinco de Mayo are in there, but don’t result in time off from work.) Whatever the reason, we are about to hear the starting pistol for our annual Race to the End.
I usually buy gifts locally. This is because I miss the deadline to buy gifts online with guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24, and end up frantically buying “thoughtful” gifts such as melon ballers and duct tape.
Maybe this year I’ll get a head start.
firstname.lastname@example.org hopes this column will motivate his fellow procrastinators to start planning early. On Twitter: @louiecastoria