Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day

Well Company, it is Columbus Day, and I would love to talk more in depth with you about it but quite frankly, I don't know why it is Columbus Day or what exactly we are supposed to be celebrating.
Part of the reason that no one knows exactly what we are supposed to be celebrating is because well, nobody really celebrates anything. The Post Office and most banks are generally closed, as are US Government offices, but that's about it. So I suppose that those people are probably celebrating their extra long weekend day off by lying around on the couch watching General Hospital or maybe by going musky fishing in the snow or something, but I can't really imagine that anyone is at home today, cleaning and preparing for their giant Columbus Day celebration fling that they are throwing tonight. I would be greatly surprised if somewhere there was like a table with little meatballs, taco dip, chips, a veggie tray, and four different types of cheese and crackers with a cooler full of frosty adult beverages just waiting for a bunch of people to come over and kick this thing off right. I would be taken aback if I found out about something like that going on.
Maybe though, there would be a few cannoli and a spicy sausage or two, since I hear that some people of Italian-American ancestry use Columbus Day in order to celebrate their Italian-American-ness. I suppose that is fine, I mean, they don't really have a day like St. Patrick's Day to use to celebrate their heritage, so I guess they might as well use Columbus Day, even though Christopher was sailing under the Spanish flag. Whatever, that's fine. Celebrate away.
You who IS celebrating Columbus Day? Shoppers. For some reason stores, you know, massive retail chains that advertise on the TV and with inserts into your Sunday paper, they for some reason think that this is the perfect event to hold a sale, so they have big sales sort of like they do on President's Day, which is also kind of a crock but we will get into that another time. So shoppers who like to get bargains, and retailers who realize that shoppers are stupid and will buy things just because they are on sale, are foaming at the mouth because it is Columbus Day and they have a nice excuse to have a sale on stuff on a fake, made-up holiday.
Yeah, that's right. I called it fake. I said it was made up. I went there. The reason is that up until FDR got his fingernails into it, Columbus Day was never really celebrated. They only celebrated the centennial anniversaries of his landing in what is now the Bahamas I believe. Sure, in 1792, 300 years after he sailed the ocean blue, New York City and a few other major American cities had little things to honor the event, and in 1892 they really went all-out and all-boring with a bunch of preachers and government-types giving patriotic speeches all around, but that was really it. I am sure there was a big party or celebration in 1992, unless of course everyone was still bummed out about the tragic fall of Milli Vanilli only a few years before. I don't remember, I was still pretty young then - my voice hadn't even changed yet. Anyway, the reason I say it is fake is because it is one of those "second Monday" type of holidays, like Presidents Day or Thanksgiving or Easter or Labor Day or Memorial Day that they just didn't care enough to give an actual date and stick to it. Now, I am not saying that Easter or Thanksgiving is fake, in fact Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday, but I mean come on. Al those other "second Monday" or "first Monday" holidays were totally made up to get us an extra day off. And Columbus Day even failed on that account.
Another thing here, is that maybe Columbus isn't the sort of character we should be celebrating. I mean, sure, he had a sort of unfortunate luck to land in an area where there were a lot of warlike, pissed-off Native American tribes, which sort of set the tone for European treatment of the Native Americans for many, many years to come, but honestly, Columbus was still kind of a dickhead. And he wasn't even looking for us and he didn't even find North America in his way anyhow, all he found were a bunch of islands in the Caribbean and Central and South America. So if he only visited Haiti, Nicaragua, and Suriname then why can't I mail a letter today? That doesn't make sense. Did he really do anything for us then? I am not sure.
All that aside, I hope that you have a wonderful Columbus Day if you are choosing to celebrate it with you and yours. If not, then I hope you are just having a wonderful second Monday in October, because it's that for all of us who, you know, use that calendar. I hope that today brings you whatever it is you want it to bring, be it a great new scarf at an unbeatable sale price, a warm sense of pride in your Italian heritage, or even just a fond memory of a long sea voyage on a creaky wooden ship that you shipwrecked on Christmas Day and turned into a land fort. You know, whatever floats your boat. Please excuse that awful pun. Happy Columbus Day.

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