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What Has Happened to Our National Holidays?

Updated on November 26, 2014
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Once upon a time, we were a fledgling nation. Barely hanging on by the skin of our teeth, the legend goes that some Indians (today we call them Native Americans) offered up some of their food in order to help our forefathers through some tough times. In those days, when someone offered you assistance you thanked them. So, we thanked them. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

So, what does Thanksgiving mean to you today? Is it a day in which you give thanks for the bounty which you have received? Do you give thanks for your family, your health, your job? Do you give thanks to your God, your wife, your husband for providing for you? All of these are worthy of thanks, but why restrict those to only one day a year? We should give thanks each and every day for those many blessings we receive.

But this hub is not about giving thanks, rather it is about how far our country has strayed from what each holiday was created, acknowledged, thought up for. Thanksgiving is a day of recognition and I wholeheartedly agree with that. But really, how many follow that lead?

Football was once a sideshow on this day of thanks, but has taken over many families entire day. Multiple games on multiple channels tear apart the very fabric of the family on this day of thanks. We should be spending the day with one another, not some in one room watching a game; some in another room talking about others (including those watching the game); some playing video games or texting or not even in the house with their families at all.

Why is it so damn difficult to spend one day together giving thanks to one another? Helping one another, loving one another, talking with, to, about one another, and actually listening and caring what is being said!.

Okay, I have begun and while it may not be a "well begun" beginning, it is mine. As they say "Well begun is half done" I would like to take a moment or two to look at several holidays which I feel have been given the short sheet when it comes to the respect and thoughts which should go hand in hand with them. The first holiday of the year is naturally January 1st, New Year's Day. Now, what does this really mean?

Not a helluva lot, really. Just the first day in the new year. Quite simple and easy to follow so nothing to talk about here, folks. Move along, move along.

So, what's the next holiday on the list? I mean, nationally recognized holiday not one of those important to some but not to the world at large holidays the government seems to constantly come up with to satisfy this or that constituency. To me, the next really big holiday is in February, and depending on who you ask, Valentine's Day is either A) Retail made this day up to separate us from our money or B) set up to make us do something nice for our significant other or C) a day set aside to recognize that we are a part of something greater than ourselves and we need to acknowledge this partnership.

While A makes sense (get it, cents? Hee hee!!) to a lot of people, I follow along with the sentiment in C. My wife makes me a better person and I need to let her know, at least one time a year, that she is what I need. I love her beyond anything or anybody else and I should be aware enough to let her know that.

But, Retail being what it is will bribe, cajole, beat over the head, brainwash, and make so many feel guilty that they end up spending way too much on something that will not last the sentiment (cut flowers), or show the significant other just how shallow their partner is (Oh honey you mean you didn't want a new skillet?) and actually cause more hard feelings than need to be in evidence.

So this day of what was intended to be simply a day to show your love for your better half has become a day to spend, spend, spend on someone and you better not do something stupid! Ah, for the days when a well intentioned thought or simply a card was sufficient. My wife is happy with such, but so many other "significant others" are not.

The next holiday on our list changes from one year to the next. Sometimes it is in March, other times it occurs in April. I'm talking about Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I suppose there is a method to the madness that someone, somewhere understands but for me... nope.

Good Friday is the acknowledgement of the day Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. Easter Sunday is the day in which He rose from the grave. Now I feel that this was a specific day, one that occurs once a year. It does not vary one month to the next; it is specific. Why should it vary by as much as three weeks?!?

In this world of political correctness, it is not proper to say Good Friday and Easter Sunday in mixed company anymore. Someone might be offended. Someone might not be a Christian and therefore does not want to hear from those of us who are that we are celebrating the day our Savior died and the day He rose from the dead. Well, I got news for those people.

I am offended that we cannot speak of it.

If you do not wish to celebrate this holiday, don't. But do not halt us from celebrating it. This is America. Land of the Free, remember. We should be free to do this if we so choose, right?

Uh, hold it right there, mister. One can only celebrate a holiday if one is someone who screams the loudest to do this or do that, and can push their way onto those pacifists who do not wish to offend anyone else. Well, the news is that this great country was founded on the belief that Christ died for our sins. Religious Freedom was guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The squeeky wheel should not be the only wheel receiving grease; it should be evenly doled out and all of those who so choose to celebrate such an occurance should be allowed to. I do not want to hold you down; why should you hold me down? If it does not harm you, let it be. For someone to tell me I cannot call it Good Friday offends me.

So, Happy Easter, and may you watch the sun rise on Easter Morning with thoughts of Him on your mind.

Okay, next up is Memorial Day. So kids: what does Memorial Day mean to you? No, it is not the beginning to the Grilling Season; nor is it the "Official" beginning of Summer. Rather, it is a day to honor those who have fallen in service of this country. Those who died defending those who could not defend themselves. You know, to think of someone other than yourselves.

Wait, you mean they didn't teach you the meaning of the word honor in school? Well, here it is:

Honor (noun) Honesty, fairness, integrity in one's beliefs. High respect, as for worth, merit or rank. High public esteem, fame, glory. Such respect manifested as in a memorial in honor of the dead.

Do you now understand?

The history of Memorial Day finds its roots in post Civil War years as a way of remembering those who fought and died in the Civil War. It has been extended to include all of those who have fought and died in service of this country's military.

Next time you see someone at a cemetary placing small flags on a grave, go over to them and offer your condolences, and your thanks for their sacrifice.

Injdependence Day, the Fourth of July. This is the day millions of Americans spend countless dollars on cheap foreign made fireworks in order to find a way to injure themselves in a variety of ways. It is also the day where people eat massive amounts of grilled food, drink mass quantities of alcoholic beverages and generally make idiots of themselves.

Oh, George Washington; I apologize to you on behalf of my nation.

For crying out loud people! This should be the day you think of those amazing men and women who forged this nation! It is the celebration of the Declaration of Independence from Britain's rule! The oppression, the taxes, the inability to worship as we so choose are all reasons for this declaration.

So, how much is spent in blowing our money up in a cloud of smoke and a flash of light? Try somewhere in the area of $600,000,000.00. Imagine if we celebrated our freedom by putting that money to a good use such as donations to local kitchens, or other worthy charities. Maybe even medical research for diseases such as cancer.

I have nothing against celebrations, but when we are literally setting money on fire in order to go "Ooh!" and "Ahh!" wouldn't we be better served to think of our fellow man? Those who celebrate waking up warm, or healthy, or just waking up each morning? Just sayin'...

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Labor Day, step right up! This day is for the workers of America! It is a day off from work; spend it as you choose.

In 1882, one Matthew Maguire, a machinist, proposed the holiday while he worked as secretary of the Central Labor Union. It was first recognized by Oregon as a holiday in 1887 and by 1894 thirty states had made it official. President Grover Cleveland made it a national holiday following the Pullman Strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company. Betcha didn't know that!

So, it truly is a holiday that is what is says: a Labor Day. A day off from work. Get out there and enjoy your day, America!


While Halloween is looked upon as a hoiday for some, I just can't go there. In retail, Halloween means one thing:

Get that Thanksgiving stuff out there! We've only got three weeks to sell the turkeys!

Thanksgiving, another one of those holidays who have no set home. It might be the fourth week of November; might not. It floats around depending on when the end of the month is.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it final by selecting the fourth Thursday of the month as the official observance of Thanksgiving. Prior to that, it had been the final Thursday of the month as determined by President Abraham Lincoln.

Is it a day of thanks today? Or is it a day of basketball, of football, of watching television. No longer is it a day spent in the company of family, most not seen or heard from for an entire year. It used to be a family celebration, one spent in the company of family. Today, it is a speed bump to Christmas, that wonderful day where we spend far too much on far too little of consequence.

But that's another holiday.

In the retail world of today, Thanksgiving is too often spent working hours preparing for Black Friday sales. Long hours, overnight hours all spent in search of almighty dollar. Leisure time with Aunt Edna or Grandpa Bill are forfeited in search of money. How sad it has become.

For the past few years, our house has opened our arms to my eldest daughter's friend and her husband. They have no other family in the area so we have become their family by proxie. It is nice, this having people around. I get to show off my culinary skills as a master turkey chef, providing many with the tenderest, moistest turkey any have ever tasted and my wife gets to enjoy having all of the children around with a minimum of bickering. Everyone tries their best to provide a warm family atmosphere that day.

The final holiday I will cover here today is, to me the most important one of all. Christmas. You know, Christmas as in Christ's Birthday? The day our Lord and Savior was born?

It is not a day to be referred to as a Winter Holiday or a Festival. It is not a day to be called X-Mas. Makes it sound like something out of a comic book, one that includes the X-men or something.

Christmas. Christ-mas. Do not downplay it you atheists, you of other religions. Allow us to enjoy it without any guff from you. We are more than willing to allow you your day or days; we deserve ours.

No, this is not the day where by all common sense is dropped and money is spent freely on items which may or may not provide long minutes of entertainment for children. It is a day where we willingly give presents at the joy of our Lord's birth. Not unlike those three wise men who traveled far to acknowledge His birth, and brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts for the Baby Jesus. No this is not a day to watch basketball on the boob tube while ignoring our family surrounding us. It is a day not unlike Thanksgiving, a day to celebrate our family and the love we enjoy in His presence.

In other words, a day to respect, a day to love, a day to acknowledge others rather than ourselves. Really, it's not that hard to do.

I hope you enjoyed the addition of these scenes from "Holiday Inn" featuring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. This is one of my family's favorite movies and we watch it anytime throughout the year. If you haven't seen it, take a little time out and discover this gem of a film.

While you're at it, take a moment and remember what each of these holidays are really about and share the sentiment with your family and strangers. Holidays are about love, joy, and respect. Share one or all of these with everyone you meet and make everyday a holiday for yourself.

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      Old Poolman 4 years ago

      I forgot to include schools in my list of those who get the day off for every ridiculous holiday on the calendar. That really messes up parents that both have to work while the children are out of school for the day.

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      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Cheyenne, I agree. Let them be what they were designed to be. If someone is offended by the name, let them ignore it. Why should we have to kneel to them? Are they any better then we are? Glad you learned something here about Labor Day. Thanks.

      Poolman, I agree. One of my favorite memories about a holiday that made no sense was the very first Martin Luther King day. I worked at a plant which had Government onsite to buy off the product we built (military stuff, you know). On that first day, the entire Government office got off except one person. The plant continued to work that day so we had to have coverage. The one person? A black man. He laughed it off saying he was getting triple time that day so he was fine with it!

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      Old Poolman 4 years ago

      Just like Veterans Day. Most vets have to work on that day but the ladies in the banks get a paid holiday? Is it just me or is there something wrong with this?

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Mike, it's sad that our holidays have become so commercialized and some have even been re-named by government to make them 'politically correct'. They seem to forget these are religious holidays, not political ones. It makes me sick. During the Christmas season I make it a point to wish people a Merry Christmas, not happy holidays.

      I learned something about Labor Day. To be honest, I never really knew what that holiday was about. Maybe they should have called it Non-Labor Day!

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      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Poolman, I am glad you enjoy everyday, and every single day is a holiday. We should look at life this way even if we do have to work. One family at a time, we need to get back to the basics. Great start Sir. Have a wonderful day!

      Bill, I apologize for getting you riled up! I just wanted everyone to appreciate every day with everyone they could! Money sucks the big one, and I am tired of chasing my tail to get by. I know others are out there are feeling the same, and if we stop and smell the roses from time to time, appreciate what we have, and who we have, well we might just feel a little bit better. Holidays need to be what they were intended to be: a day to be spent glorifying family, friends and the season/day it was supposed to be remembered for.

      Relax, my good friend! Look outdoors at the scenery; hug that wonderful wife of yours, and take a walk through the garden.

      By the way, I topped 100 quarts of pickles from my garden last night and there's no end in sight for these cucumber plants! Whole, spears, sandwich slices, hamburger slices, sweet, koshier, polish you name it I canned it!!! Even found a new (to us) variety called a Lemon Cucumber. Tina said it was "buttery" tasting and the rind was very smooth and soft, not crunchy like normal cucumbers. We have had green beans and new potatoes several times; fried potatoes for breakfast; real mashed potatoes; corn straight from the stalk to the pot; tomatoes; salsa; jalapenos; banana peppers; it has been a bumper crop! Take care my dear Friend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      In a land drowning in consumption is it any surprise that our holidays be about retail and making money and buying things? This is what we do in this country, Mike. We say goodbye to substance and meaning and say hello to the latest possession, and it makes me sick.

      Now that I'm riled up and start this Friday.

      Well done buddy, and I hope you have a great day.

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      Old Poolman 4 years ago

      Holidays and I enjoy a love/hate relationship. It seems that many holidays are now reserved just for banks and government agencies. Have you ever noticed how often you are working while every bank and the Post Office employees have the day off?

      Then they changed the rules that if a holiday falls on the weekend, they get Monday off to celebrate the holiday. I never dreamed that a holiday could not be enjoyed on Saturday or Sunday.

      If a holiday falls on Thursday, the new rules are that should also include a day off on Friday. Why in the world would anyone want to show up to work on Friday when they will have the next two days off anyhow?

      This is all great for people lucky enough to get paid for time off on holidays, but hurts those who lose a days work due to a holiday.

      As you point out, it is now a race to see which stores can get their Christmas stuff on the shelves first. We will one day expect to start seeing Christmas stuff on the shelves around the 5th of July.

      But now that I am retired, every day is a holiday, so none of this really matters. I just enjoy the family gatherings and any holiday seems like a good reason to do this.