February Holidays

February has always been a strange month.  Well, let’s say a unique month.

After all, January is a hard act to follow, with its celebration of the new year, noisemakers and fireworks, hope and resolutions.  By comparison, February is the poor kinfolk.  It’s the dead of winter, which has been going on for two months and we’re pretty sick of it already (particularly if you live in the northeastern United States and have to shovel snow again).

As if looking out the window or sticking one’s head out the door weren’t enough to confirm the deep freeze, we start out the month with Ground Hog Day.  We really needed to be reminded by a rodent (from Pennsylvania yet) that we have to put with six more weeks of this crap.

As the month progresses, we celebrate true love on St. Valentine’s Day and, here in the U.S., honor our first president (famous for crossing the Delaware with his troops in the dead of night on Christmas Eve and taking the partying Redcoats by surprise in New Jersey) and our sixteenth president (famous for the Gettysburg Address, freeing the slaves and holding the nation together during a time of deep divisiveness).  When I was a kid, we celebrated by having two days off school, Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 and Washington’s Birthday on February 22.  But by the time I hit high school, the two holidays were more or less merged into one, Presidents Day always being celebrated on a Monday to give us a three-day weekend.  Then, somewhere along the line, the holidays seem to have been split again, Presidents Day becoming synonymous with Washington’s Birthday.  Thus, at my last job, each year we were off for Lincoln’s Birthday (on February 12, which frequently fell in the middle of the week) as well as for Presidents Day/Washington’s Birthday on the third Monday of the month (giving us our three-day weekend).

I honestly can’t think of a single tradition associated with Washington’s Birthday, other than shrill TV and radio ads for department stores and used car dealers.  Lincoln’s Birthday seems to have a loose association with the eating of cherry pie, based on the outsized myth that, in his youth, “honest Abe” could not tell a lie and hence admitted to having chopped down a cherry tree and accepted the consequences therefor.  In fact, the importance of cherry pie appears to have increased over the years to the point at which it now has its very own holiday, divorced from Honest Abe’s birthday.  Yes, that’s right, February 20 is National Cherry Pie Day.

Cherry pie isn’t February’s only comestible rock star, however.  Apparently, the month is loaded with food holidays.  The Nibble informs us that the day before National Cherry Pie Day is National Chocolate Mint Day and that the day after is National Sticky Bun Day.  This weekend, we have National Gumdrop Day on Saturday and National Almond Day on Sunday.  I need to make a supermarket run for some Jelly Bellies and a can of mixed nuts.

Although I no longer eat seafood or dairy, at one time I would have been delighted to learn that February 9 is National Bagels and Lox Day, just two days after National Fetuccine Alfredo Day.  I may have missed Homemade Soup Day back on the fourth, but I think I made up for it this week by enjoying a pot of my wife’s wonderful vegetable soup with cabbage.  Thank you, dear!  Oh, and could you please replenish a supply of our favorite green nuts in time for National Pistachio Day on the 26th?  Particularly since our last can, um, disappeared before I could get any?  Not that I mind, but hey, it’s a holiday don’t you know.

Needless to say, Uncle Guacamole is particularly pleased that February is National Avocado Month.  Just think of it, an entire month to honor my favorite fruit!  Good thing the 24th is National Tortilla Chip Day.

And lest we be accused of selfishness, let’s not forget to set aside a special day to celebrate with Rover this month.  How about, say, February 22 (Walking the Dog Day) or 23rd (International  Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day)?

It’s not all about food, though.  It may be time to visit the dentist (since the ninth is Toothache Day and the last day of the month is National Tooth Fairy Day).  Then there’s National Battery Day on the 18th (I know I have some triple-As here somewhere), Polar Bear Day on the 27th (sorry, I’m not taking a swim in the freezing cold ocean) and, bringing up the rear at the end of the month, Public Sleeping Day (when I get to find a park bench and practice being a vagrant).

When I found out that February 20 is National Hoodie Hoo Day, I had to look that one up.  On that date, apparently North Americans are supposed to step outside at noon, wave their hands over their heads and holler “hoodie hoo!”  I swear, I am not making this up.

I see that the tenth was Clean Out Your Computer Day and that the sixteenth will be Do a Grouch a Favor Day (I may visit Oscar from Sesame Street and make it Clean Out Your Trash Can Day).

But my favorite February holiday of all, and one I fully intend to celebrate, is Random Acts of Kindness Day, which is marked this coming Monday.  If you find yourself in line at a drive-through window on that day, don’t forget to pay for the meal or coffee for the car behind you.  Then drive away as fast as you can.

Trust me, the smile on your face will warm up even the coldest day in February.


A California December

electric blanket

It has gotten really cold here.

I know.  It’s December.  It’s supposed to be cold.

Not here.  I mean what the heck?  This is California, for crying out loud!  When I lived in New York and New England all those years, everyone spent the winter whining about the snow and cold, wishing they could live in a warm place such as Florida or California.

California, in particular, was mythic.  The home of Schwarzenegger and Mickey Mouse.  Everyone there was either a movie star or a surfer dude, and we’d all seen the romantic photos of couples walking along the beach and enjoying the ocean at any time of year.

Joe Dee Messina sang “Heads Carolina, tails California, somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.”

The Mamas and The Papas were busy California dreamin’.  “I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.”

Even in L.A., the weather people are calling for 41°F tonight.  But here, two-thirds of the way up from Mexico to Oregon, we’re going to have a hard freeze tonight, 23°F.

Just for kicks, I checked the forecast for some of my old haunts back east.  They may hit the low forties tonight.

Somehow, being in a place that is significantly colder than New York seems to defeat the purpose of living in California.

I am reminded that we don’t have blizzards here.  Sure, how often did that happen back in NYC?  Once per winter, maybe?  I remember my last winter on the east coast very clearly.  We barely had two flakes of snow to rub together the entire winter.

Be that as it may, this type of weather does not bode well for the homeless in our area, particularly those unable to reach a shelter or unwilling to stay there.  I am told that our homeless friend is still sleeping in his sister’s car, inside a fleece-lined sleeping bag, wearing a coat and covered by blankets.

I think what I’m supposed to do is smile and be glad it’s the holiday season.  It’s the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, and Christmas is just around the corner.  Cold weather is supposed to be a part of the whole ambience.  Mittens, scarves, hot chocolate and all that.  We wouldn’t want Frosty the Snowman to melt, now would we?  And perhaps, as we see our frozen breath while running about shopping, a taste of the North Pole will encourage empathy for the hardships endured by Santa and his elves.

I suppose that’s all well and good for the children and the Christmas carolers.

As for me, I stand with my bloggy friend, Vagina.

I want my electric blankie.