<

THE BOOK BATTLE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

MCC library

Wright’s Great Library

One of the best jobs I ever held was as a tour guide at the Marin County Civic Center back in the mid-1960’s.  The iconic building was the last of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces.  In fact, when I worked there only the Administration building was completed but we were awed by the scale model of what was to come – a judicial wing, an arts building and a heliport (which was never built).  Still, as I led tour after tour on the weekends my appreciation for his architecture grew.  In my opinion, no part of the building was more stunning than the library, with its rounded ceiling and open spaces.  I was fortunate enough to develop a love of books from a grammar school teacher who spent a whole year teaching us how to read a book.  She introduced me to Nancy Drew, Tom Sawyer and Louisa May Alcott.  So, oftentimes on the weekend when my fellow tour guide and I didn’t feel like leading a tour, we’d put a sign on the desk saying we were out touring and would return in 30 minutes.  And then we would sneak off to the library.

20190112_094242-1279260124-1547312361242.jpg

Part of my beloved library

Over the years, whether I was in a studio apartment or a larger home, I always maintained a library.  To this day I have some of my college textbooks, which come in handy when I want to learn something about ancient history!  In my current house we converted what the architect considered a necessity, a fourth bathroom, into something I considered an absolute must – a library.  I even organized it by subject matter and author.  I know, I’m a geek.  So, when the eBook revolution came about I was one of those who swore I would never convert.  I scoffed at those who jumped on the bandwagon, even as I lugged my huge canvas bag of books on every vacation.  I think it was on one of those trips when my husband commented about the “rock collection” I’d brought along, that I began considering an eReader.  In 2010 I relented and bought my first Kindle.  I’m now on my fourth.  I love that I can store hundreds of books, that I can read at night with the light off so as not to bother my husband or Dash the Wonder Dog, and it has kept me amused as I’ve waited at doctor’s offices, airports and the DMV.

20190103_123607

There’s room for both!

So it was with some interest that I read an article in Inc. Magazine recently noting that according to The Wall Street Journal, sales of traditional print books rose by 5 percent in the US last year, while sales of eBooks plunged by 17 percent.  No one knows exactly why that happened or if it’s a lasting trend.  They do cite two very good reasons for the switch.  First, real books can be shared.  Remember the days when we paid $20 for a book and then passed it around to 10 friends?  Now everyone has to pay around $13 for their own download.  The second reason they cited is that real books make more meaningful gifts.  I couldn’t agree more.  I still remember who gave me books as gifts and the sentiment behind the purchase.  I also love a hardcover when I’m reading one of my historical biographies with a complicated family tree illustration just so I can easily flip to the chart when I can’t remember who’s married to whom.

Those are indeed good reasons to buy a real book, but last night I discovered perhaps the best reason.  A week ago my daily email from Kindle advertised a novel about women in WWII.  Always a sucker for a good war book, I decided to download it.  Amazon informed that I already owned it.  So I went to my archives and, indeed, I bought it in 2013.  I downloaded it to my current device and began reading.  It wasn’t until last night, one third through the book, that I realized I’ve read it before.  Hey, I’m not beating myself up.  I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, much less a book I read six years ago.  But thinking about this post today I realized that perhaps the best reason for a real book is that after you’ve read it there are creases in the spine or perhaps a dog-eared page or two, alerting you that you’ve been down that path before.  On the upside, re-reading a good book is kind of like meeting an old friend.  I guess there are benefits to losing your memory!

New Year, New Adventures

by Bob Sparrow

Cinque a Terre, Italy

I feel very fortunate that I have the wherewithal, time and health that allows me a good deal of travel. I was just reviewing my travels for the past year and realized that aside from annual trips to our timeshare in Palms Desert and to our Cinco de Mayo golf tournament in Las Vegas, last year, I was able to go crazy in Nashville, visit the crazies in Washington D.C., with a side trip to Gettysburg, feel crazy on wine trips to Paso Robles and Napa/Sonoma, play golf (or a vague facsimile there of) in beautiful Banff, Canada, although it wasn’t so beautiful due to the smoke that filled the sky from multiple forest fire throughout British Columbia and Alberta. We also took a trip in time as we traveled back to the ‘50s on our trip to Minnesota for Linda’s 50th high school class reunion, with the Mabel-Hesper Steam Engine Days parade thrown in as a bonus. On our trip to Laughlin, Nevada, my brother, Jack and I saw the creation, and the subsequent filing for bankruptcy of, ‘The Sparrow Brothers School of Fine Football Forecasting’. The year’s traveling ended with a visit to Seattle to attend our good friends, the Johnson’s son’s wedding. I should also include our trip to the famous restaurant, Dan Tana’s as any trip to L.A. is always an adventure.

And you got to come along on all those adventures, but I can already hear you asking, “What have you done for me lately – where are we going this year?” Well, I think you’ll like the itinerary we have planned for you as I start the year off with a trip to a familiar haunt, Lake Tahoe. We’ll be attending another friend’s son’s wedding at the Inn at Squaw Creek in Squaw Valley . . . in January . . . outside! Hope I can type with mittens on. While there, we’ll take some time to visit Mom & Dad’s final resting place overlooking ‘The Lake’.  In the spring I’ll be heading out to one of my favorite locations, Death Valley with some hiking buddies – hope we keep the death out of Death Valley. At the beginning of summer we have an Adriatic cruise planned that will afford us visits to Italy, Greece, Croatia and some other places missing some vowels that I can’t pronounce much less spell. In September we’re back in Italy, staying in Tuscany and taking day trips to the surrounding environs before heading to Cinque a Terre – those picturesque fishing villages hanging off Italy’s Mediterranean coast, which have been on my bucket list for some time – I hope I remember to come home.

I lay this itinerary out so that if anyone who’s been to any of the aforementioned destinations has some travel tips – I’m all ears.

I’m not sure where Suzanne’s travel will take her this year, but you can count on us to fill your every Monday morning with some travel highlights, some life observations, some tributes as well as some stuff you can just delete as spam.

Thank you for your readership and we hope your 2019 is adventurous . . . in a good way.

NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTIONS

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

I’ve never kept a New Year’s resolution.  I don’t think I’m alone in that confession.  In fact, according to the Huffington Post, only 8% of people keep them.  I was kind of Ditch_New_Years_Resolutions_Daysurprised to learn it was that high.  Who ARE those people?  Probably the same ones who have their taxes filed by February 1 and the Christmas cards done in August.  So, being the sloth that I am, I went in search of resolutions made by people who, like me, have absolutely no intention of losing weight, exercising more or improving my vocabulary.  Luckily, there are a lot of us out there and I found some rather amusing one’s to share with you this last day of 2018:

 

I want to lose just enough weight so that my stomach doesn’t jiggle when I brush my teeth.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I didn’t become a better person.

I need to start eating more healthy, but first I need to eat all the junk food in the house so it’s not there to tempt me anymore.

I don’t call them New Year’s resolutions.  I prefer the term, “Casual promises to myself that I’m under no legal obligation to fulfill”.

My resolution is to stop kidding myself about lifestyle changes.  Nobody likes a cheap, skinny, sober bitch anyway.

Never again will I take sleeping pills and laxatives on the same night.

I’m going to fake my own death, move to Mexico and live off tacos and tequila.

And from a kindergartner:  I’m going to stop picking my nose.  It’s going to be hard.

I’m only making one resolution this year:  I will indulge when the moods strikes.  Not much of a stretch, I admit, but I’m taking inspiration from a friend.  She posted a photo on Facebook last summer of her husband in a 50’s-style diner, grinning like a 10 year-old as he was served a huge chocolate milkshake, with a sidecar to boot.  Tragically, he died unexpectedly last week.  I thought about that photo – he was so excited to indulge, with nary a thought about cholesterol or calories.  Somehow it made me happy to know that he’d had such a satisfying, guiltless moment.  We should all be so lucky.

So, this year, I wish you and your family much happiness and good health…and many chocolate milkshakes!

Ban on Christmas Carols to Come

After call ins from listeners of Cleveland radio station WDOK, the song, Baby It’s Cold Outside, was banned because according to them, “the song’s lyrics hadn’t aged well amid the #MeToo movement.” However, following the ban, national newspaper, USA Today had an article by a self-describes liberal feminist who thinks the song is actually empowering to females. While I understand the spirit in which the song was banned, I’m concerned that our focus on political correctness once again has gone too far. But I know it’s not going to stop, so here is some foreshadowing of banned Christmas carols to come.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games

While it must take a better imagination than mine to fathom ‘reindeer games’, this is clearly an example of bullying by Donner, Blitzen and the other shiftless reindeer who were planning to strike on Christmas Eve due to fog.  It’s not until a practical use for Rudolph’s shiny proboscis is found that he’s finally accepted. You won’t be hearing this song for too much longer.

And what about I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus? Ostensibly this is a song from a small child’s perspective who sneaks down on Christmas Eve to see if he can catch a glimpse of Santa.  He gets more than a glimpse; he sees his mother kissing and tickling Santa  as she is clearly coming on to him. In the song the small lad questions whether he should tell his father. What a position to put a young child in. And what opinion does this child take away about Santa Claus? Is he doing this in every house with other Mommies? Is it really better to be naughty than nice?  Don’t plan on hearing much of this song in the future.

Gramma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is a classic case of a homicidal hit-and-run by Santa (probably hustling to get to that next house to kiss more Mommies) and irresponsibility by the entire family.

She’d been drinkin’ too much eggnog and we’d begged her not to go
But she’d left her medication so she stumbled out the door into the snow

Really?!? The family is letting an elderly woman go out on a cold winter’s night on Christmas Eve to walk home to get her medication after she’s been drinking? The song goes on to describe an unremorseful Grandpa, who is playing cards, watching football and drinking beer after his wife was found the next morning murdered by Santa. I wonder if WDOK is still playing this song!!

Do You Hear What I Hear – this holiday standard openly pokes fun at the elderly, who rarely can hear what everyone else hears – so they make a song about it?!

Christmas Don’t Be Late by the Chipmunks tries to be a song for little children, but the constant screaming at and berating of Alvin (Who is clearly ADD), and the lack of diversity amongst the chipmunk (they are all the same color) clearly sends the wrong message to our youth.

And speaking of diversity, I’m assuming I don’t need to elaborate on the political incorrectness of the lyric I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. And God forbid when we get to the bottom of what Fa La La La La and Rum Pa Pum Pum really mean; I’ll think we’ll have another couple of songs on the ‘Do Not Play’ list.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is certainly a song for and about the privileged. While many families struggle to make ends meet during the holidays, this song describes numerous, insidious gifts lavished on a ‘true love’. It’s been estimated that to give someone the gifts mentioned in this song would cost over $35,000.   By itself nine ladies dancing is about $7,500, if they are lap dances, much more!

Also be ready for the changing of the title of Frosty the Snowman to Frosty the Snowperson

Please understand that this is just the beginning; we have yet to examine those ‘foreign’ Christmas songs like Adeste Fideles, Feliz Navidad and Mele Kalikimaka; I’m fairly certain that a politically correct translation of these songs will reveal their inappropriateness as well.

 

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

And please ‘Share’ our blogs!

 

 

A CHRISTMAS TOAST

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Just hangin’ with the former Pres.

George H.W. Bush was a hero of mine.  I didn’t always agree with him politically, but in 1999 I read his book, All the Best, and fell in love.  I fell in love with his character, his joyful sense of fun, his integrity and his love of family and friends.  In so many ways he represented what was good about the Greatest Generation – an ethic forged through the Depression and WWII that stood for so many values we cherish.  As luck would have it, just weeks after finishing his book I was privileged to meet him.  He was as charming in person as he was on the written page.   I had my photo taken with him and was so excited to learn they would send me a copy of it.  I imagined framing it and placing it prominently in my office.  A few weeks later when it arrived my heart sunk.  The photo looked so unlike me that for an instant I thought they had mixed up my photo with someone else’s.  Finally in my despair I figured out the problem – a few days before the photo was taken I had undergone Lasik surgery.  Obviously I was still sensitive to light so when the camera flashed on my pupils I scrunched up like a Shar Pei dog.  For almost 20 years the photo has been hidden in a closet.  But as I watched his memorial services a couple of weeks ago I thought again about my encounter with him and dragged it out.  It did not improve with time.  But still…I love having that moment captured.  As I listened to his eulogies I thought about something told to me when my father died – that when a friend loses a parent it brings back all of the emotions you have about your own parents’ passing.

That rang especially true as I heard George W. say that the last words his dad said to him was, “I love you.”  A week before my dad died I boondoggled a trip up to Northern California so that I could go visit him in the hospital.  He was in rare form that day, laughing and joking, and generally keeping the nurses merrily entertained.  When I had to leave to attend that pesky meeting I’d manufactured, I leaned over his bed and told him I loved him.  He gave me a big smile and said, “I love you too, sweetheart.”  Although I spoke with my mom daily about his condition, those words from him were his last to me – a week later he died suddenly at home of a heart attack.  I know what comfort his words have brought me over the years and I know that George W. will undoubtedly take solace in those same words from his dad.  I miss my dad all year, but especially at Christmas when I remember all the fun we had and the joy he brought to every family gathering.

Our Pop – a jolly man indeed!

So for this Christmas post I’d like to pay tribute and toast all of the people of that generation.  We are losing them far too quickly and with each of their deaths we mourn not only them, but the civility they embodied.   I can’t think of a better beverage with which to toast than Pop’s famous Ice Cream Gin Fizz.  He served it every Christmas morning and it gave a roseate hue to the entire day.  We share his recipe in the hopes that you will also take a moment to remember those we’ve lost with a toast of ice cream and gin.  How can you go wrong?

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ
Fill a blender 1/4 full with ice cubes
Add 6 jiggers of gin
Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream
Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)
My brother Bob adds an egg so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg. Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and every thing!
Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg. As we got older we conspired with Pop and ditched the wine glass for a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

Wishing all of our subscribers a very happy holiday season!  Cheers!

Lights Out . . . Christmas!

by Bob Sparrow

I wasn’t really snooping, but as I went out into the garage to pull down the boxes with all my outside Christmas decorations in them and I heard voices. I stopped, leaned forward and listened. Indeed, there were voices coming from the boxes of Christmas decorations. I creeped a little closer and put my ear up to the holiday box.

“OK, you over there, spin around and climb through here; you, twist around a couple of times and do a summersault through here. You over there, back up through this hole and hold hands with her.”

Yes, it was just as I suspected, each year I carefully take down and tie my Christmas lights into a nice roll, label them as to where they came from and place them gently in the box. When I go to get them the following year, they are all knotted up with each other and in complete disarray. How does that happen? I was about to learn; I listened further.

“We need a couple of volunteers again this year; one to climb out of your socket and hide somewhere where he can’t find you. We need a second volunteer to wriggle out of your socket just a little, so you light up when he tests us, but not when he put us up. Walter, I think you were close to the top of the roofline last year, so you’d be a good one to volunteer for that. OK, thanks. Those of you who are close to that label he put on us last year, let’s get that off as soon as possible; if you can put it on another bundle of lights, all the better. Don’t forget, if you feel like you’re going to go out this year, wait until you get up on the house and then go out. And listen up everyone, what happens when one of us goes out? WE ALL GO OUT! That’s right, we’re a team, we need to stick together so he has to test each one of us to find the one that’s actually bad. We’ll also need a volunteer to give one up for the team this year when he lays us out on the driveway, someone needs to roll under his foot and get crushed. You’ll be remembered as a hero to all of us.

Deer-in-a-Box

Meanwhile, in the box next to it, I can hear the lighted reindeer talking to himself, getting ready for ‘his gig’.

“Man, it will be good to get out of this fricking box and get all my pieces put together. . . hopefully correctly this year! How hard is it to put my tail on the other end of my body from my head? I don’t know who I pissed off, but I spend 11 months with my head up my ass in a small box and then I gotta stand out on the front lawn with a smile on my face, freezing my ass off, looking all Christmassy for the next month – no food, no water and my antlers will probably be facing the wrong direction again this year. Wish I could poop all over his lawn; actually I just wish I could poop.  I know I look transparent, but I’m feeling a little blocked up.”

The artificial Christmas tree resides elsewhere in a storage shed. Yes, I lost the battle of ‘real’ tree versus ‘artificial’ tree, last year when my last ‘real’ tree had a small fire that was put out fairly quickly, albeit after a good deal of water settled into the carpet and the walls became a bit ashy. I mentioned to Linda that the fire retardant actually looked like snow on the tree, but she failed to see the humor in that.

As late afternoon brought darkness, I headed out to the street in front of the house to admire my work.  Of course, the highest string of lights on the house was out, but I know just where to look for the culprit.  No, all the lights didn’t all come on at the same time, but that’s an easy fix.  So I’m feeling pretty good until I look at the reindeer and wonder if those antlers are on correctly.  Then I notice something under the reindeer that looks an awful lot like reindeer poop.  No way!  It turned out to be just a leaf, but I thought I noticed a smile on the reindeer’s face.

May all your lights stay bright.

 

OUR ANNUAL USELESS GIFT GIVING GUIDE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

It’s that time of year.  People scurrying about – shopping, cooking, eating, drinking.  Lots of drinking.  As always, we here at “From a Bird’s Eye View” are here to make your life just a bit easier.  Today, we provide our annual list of useless gifts for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list.  Where else can you get this kind of valuable information?

 

 

First, for the person who fashions him or herself as a “jock”, we have just the item.  The ‘Nose Aerobics” game.  The recipient simply slips on the glasses and tries to flip the ball into the basket.  It’s perfect for that brother-in-law who you’d like to bash in the head.  What could be better than watching him do it to himself?  Or perhaps it’s just the thing for the annoying cousin who is a perfect size 0 and just finished the New York Marathon.  You can challenge her to get her nose in shape and she’ll sit in the corner with this and free everyone else from hearing about her split times and muscle cramps.  Trust me, this gift has endless applications.

 

 

Or maybe you have a new baby in the family.  Frankly, babies think they can get by just being cute.  We say it’s time to put them to work!  Place the “Baby Mop” on your infant and let the fun begin!  You get to watch them try to crawl around, all the while getting your floors polished.  Oh sure, they may get a little dust and dander up their nose but think of it as preparing them to live in China, where by the time s/he is an adult, everyone will be working anyway.  Your baby will be miles ahead of the competition with their already-compromised lungs.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, for someone that you really like, do them a favor and give them the Nap Sack.  For the love of God, where was this when I was working, sitting through endless boring meetings?  Think of the times you’ve wished you could unobtrusively just nod off and no one would know.  By placing the Nap Sack on your head people won’t know if you’re asleep or planning a terrorist attack.  Either way, they’ll probably leave you alone to nap in sublime peacefulness.

 

 

 

 

For the person who has everything a set of Handerpants might do.  Again, not only can they keep hands warm but it’s a safe bet that anyone who sees a person wearing these will cut a wide swath.  On the more practical side, I’ve seen some rather obscene tattoos on fingers lately so if you know someone who has “E.A.T. S.H.I.T” on their fingers this item could be helpful if they need to go to Grandma’s for Christmas dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, there’s always that one person on your list who is difficult to please.  They have everything, they don’t like anything you’ve ever given them, and frankly, they don’t deserve much.  To the rescue comes The Gift of Nothing.  This little ball of nothing sets the person straight – it proclaims that Nothing is better than Christmas.  It is the ultimate gift of minimalism.  Something that the neighbors in “Christmas Vacation” might enjoy.  Or your sister who only wears black and eschews any form of holiday cheer.  Nothing can be the perfect gift.

 

We hope that these ideas prove helpful.  You can thank us later.

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Epilogue

by Bob Sparrow

The Family

Yes, as always I ate too much, and I’m not sure if Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of it or in spite of it. It’s a holiday with no debate about whether you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, there’s no pressure of buying gifts or accepting unwanted gifts with a gracious, but insincere, “I love it”. There is no dressing up and begging for candy and there is no drinking as much as you can and staying up past midnight. Although Madison Avenue is trying like hell to put the focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s really still just about family, friends, food and football.

It is truly a time when I actually think about how grateful I am as well as think about those less fortunate – families of fire victims, shooting victims, the homeless, those with debilitating diseases or handicaps. It especially a time to be thankful for all the first-responders who put their lives on the line coming to the aid of others.  It’s also at Thanksgiving I am reminded of how fortunate Linda and I are that we had such loving, caring parents, who taught us love of family, mostly by example. We still love and communicate regularly with our siblings and our three kids love each other and have given us three amazing grandchildren . . . so far.

My hope is that everyone has family relations as good or better than we have. Unfortunately the reality is that I’ve heard way too many stories about people who say that they never got along with a parent, or that they haven’t spoken to a sibling in years or have ignored a once-good friend because they had a disagreement years ago. When I encounter people in these situations I can’t help but think of one of the most influential books I’ve ever read about forgiveness, Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela. Among other things Mandela was able to forgive those who imprisoned him for 27 years, 18 of which were on isolated Robben Island, for his efforts to abolish apartheid in South Africa. A few years ago I personally had an opportunity to visit his cell on Robben Island and believe me, it is no place you would want to spend even 18 minutes in! Once released, Mandela continued his fight against apartheid and was ultimately elected president of South Africa.  While apartheid isn’t completely gone even today, his efforts have gone a long way towards creating social justice.

The good news is you don’t have to be imprisoned for 27 years to reach out to that family member or friend that you’ve been avoiding for the last several years. This is the perfect time of year to extend the olive branch or an eggnog.

 

FEELING GRATEFUL

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Those of you who are regular readers know that my house has revolted this year, requiring untold repairs and replacements.  Last Sunday my husband heard a loud “boom” emanating from the garage – that is never a good sign.  Sure enough, our hot water heater had exploded.  Luckily, we had a pan underneath it, sparing my Christmas ornaments from a watery grave.  The next day the plumber installed a new one.  He was no further than the end of our street when I turned on our under counter lights and blew the transformer.  I wanted to scream.  Instead, I did what any sensible person would do – poured myself a glass of wine and decided to take this one in stride.  I had just spent the weekend watching the fires in California and the absolute devastation they wreaked.  I thought about how many thousands of people wished that their only problem was a few repairs.  I was reminded of the saying by Confucius:  “I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.”  Sometimes we can get so caught up in minor problems we forget to just be thankful for all that is so good in our lives.  So this Thanksgiving week I am feeling very grateful for a house that is standing, a wonderful family and caring friends.  In the spirit of the week, I am sharing a few quotes about gratitude.

 

Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.  Leroy “Satchel” Paige

Gratitude turns what we have into enough Aesop

Find the good and praise it.  Alex Hailey  (This one comes in handy for anyone eating my cooking)

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.  Robert Brault

This is a wonderful day.  I’ve never seen this one before.  Maya Angelou

What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.  Brene Brown

Silent gratitude isn’t very much use to anyone.  Gertrude Stein

Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.  Zig Ziglar

Finally, since Thanksgiving this year falls on the 55th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, I thought it fitting to end with this one:

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.  John F. Kennedy

My brother and I are indeed thankful for all of you who read our blog.  We wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Holiday Rant

by Bob Sparrow

I was just coming down from my three Three Musketeers high the day after Halloween, OK four, when my Sirius radio started playing Christmas music, my wife started telling me about our Thanksgiving Day plans and our friends were asking me what we’re doing for New Years Eve. I’m thinking to myself, why have ‘they’ crammed these four holidays into the last 62 days of the year?

It’s 62 days of eating candy, then eating leftover candy, then eating excessively large turkey dinners, then eating calorie-rich Christmas meals accompanied by eggnog, wassail or the latest ‘holiday beverage’, and then we’re expected to have the ‘party of the year’ to celebrate the coming of a new year. If I had lost any weight on the variety of diets I’ve been on throughout the year, that ship set sail with the Three Musketeers. Which is how New Year’s resolutions get created I guess.  You know, historians aren’t really certain about the actual birth of Jesus anyway and the Gregorian calendar, which we follow, is only one of many available calendars so I say move Christmas and New Years to the summer, where at least we can get out and walk off a few calories.

Thank you, Columbus!

And as long as we’re moving holidays around, there’s probably some we could get rid of altogether. Columbus Day immediately comes to mind – a holiday that hangs just outside of that 62 day window, on October 14. This is a strange one to me since Christopher Columbus never set foot on U.S. soil, yet for years we’ve celebrated this Italian’s ‘discovery of America’ along with his other bogus discovery – proving the world wasn’t flat!   Columbus Day’s status as a holiday has been sketchy at best.  Some states don’t recognize it, but rather eschewed this holiday for ‘Indigenous People’s Day’, which was started in 1992 by, who else, the city of Berkeley.  It does make me wonder why we don’t have a national holiday to celebrate Native Americans.  I guess we just don’t want to be reminded of what we’ve done to them.  But Columbus is vigorously celebrated in many Italian communities, just as the Irish observe St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, which was the day St. Patrick died in AD 461 – not sure how that became a holiday. To most of us it’s just another time to hoist a drink – preferably Irish whiskey or beer.

So we have the Italians and Irish taken care of and the Afro-Americans with the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, which is the ‘third Monday in January’ – I wonder if that’s how it read on his driver’s license. This federal holiday was first celebrated in 1986, but Arizona didn’t recognize the holiday until 1992 when the NFL boycotted the state’s Super Bowl. New Hampshire was the last state to adopt the holiday in 1999. Three states, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, today, celebrate both MLK’s and Robert E. Lee’s birthday on that third Monday in January – apparently hoping that the ‘south will rise again’.  But the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., at 18%, the Latinos, have no national holiday. Yes, there’s Cinco de Mayo, which is celebrated where there are heavy Hispanic populations, but that commemorates a short-lived victory of Mexico over France. I guess Taco Tuesday is going to have to do until we celebrate a birthday of someone like Cesar Chavez – his birthday was March 31, but it can easily be changed to ‘the last Monday in March’.

It used to be that we’d celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on Feb 12th and Washington’s birthday on Feb 18th and if I’m not mistaken, back in the day we got both of those days off school if they fell during the week. Now they’ve combined them so that we have President’s Day on the third Monday in February. But it is not just to celebrate Lincoln and Washington birthdays, it is to celebrate ALL presidents. So next February don’t forget to wish Rutherford B. Hayes a happy birthday.

I hate to pick on another religious holiday, but have you ever wondered why the date for Easter keeps moving around? Well, exactly when we celebrate this highly religious holiday is based on the position of the sun along with the phases of the moon.  For the record, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (approximately March 20-21 in the northern hemisphere), when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator – seems rather voodoo-like to me for such an august occasion.

Then there’s the ‘BBQ Holidays’, Memorial Day, when we break out the BBQ, Independence Day, when the BBQ works its hardest and Labor Day, after which we put the BBQ away. I think the meaning of these holidays gets diluted in all the BBQ sauce and the attendant adult beverages, so I’m suggesting that these holidays be moved away from summer.

Oh yeah, there is another holiday in these last 62 days of the year, Veterans Day; yep, that’s this week, but don’t feel bad if you didn’t remember it, most people don’t. This is only a holiday that celebrates the men and women who have defended the freedoms that give us the right to be such a diverse and dysfunctional country.

Go wild and crazy this week and celebrate by thanking a veteran for his/her service.