Every year on Feb. 1, Americans turn their gaze to Punxsutawney, Penn., with hopes that the groundhog they drag forcefully from its burrow will not see its shadow.
Groundhog Day. A holiday starring a reluctant rodent and a stupid superstition that is meteorologically meaningless regardless of presence of a shadow.
Every year on Feb. 14, the price of roses quadruples as listless couples sit at candlelit tables and stare at iPhone screens while waiting for their chicken piccata, and singletons bemoan a day dedicated to the romantic love that has thus far eluded them and probably always will.
Valentine’s Day. Americans spend millions of dollars every year every on this supposedly romantic moment that is often filled with angst, expense and regret.
Even New Year’s Day is kind of dumb. It’s a federal holiday, so at least most Americans enjoy a day off, but why? We survived another year? We need time to dispose of the previous year’s calendars? We require a full 24 hours in order to decide upon a New Year’s resolution that will almost assuredly be abandoned 72 hours later?
The problem with so many holidays like these is that they result in no lasting effect. They are meaningless, pointless expenditures of effort.
Days filled with dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams. General stupidity.
But not all holidays are stupid.
Mother’s Day, for example, leaves moms feeling slightly less ignored for 1/365th of the year.
Thanksgiving brings families together for genuine moments of love and political discontent.
The Fourth of July reduces the median number of fingers on stupid Americans considerably.
Christmas drives the U.S. economy while slaughtering millions of evergreen trees.
But so many of our holidays achieve none of these lasting impacts. I like a holiday that leaves something behind. Some lasting effect. Some meaningful change.
This is why I adore and celebrate the often-ignored summertime holiday, Forgiveness Day.
July 7. A day when we are supposed to find forgiveness for those who have transgressed against us in the previous year.
Forgiveness. This is a lasting effect. The transition from one state of being to another. Forgiveness can make a real difference in our lives.
This year, for example, I plan to forgive my children, Clara and Charlie, for their constant fight over who gets to sit beside my wife at dinner while I sit silently across the table, trying not to be offended by these small, thoughtless, hate-filled monsters.
This year I intend to forgive my cats, Pluto and Tobi, for the many nights spent running across my face while I sleep. Yes, it’s true. Our home is 2,300 square feet, not counting a basement in which they spend large amounts of time, yet this pair of four-legged devils often find the need to run across the one square foot of space that my face occupies at any given moment.
It’s awful and stupid and possibly malicious, but on July 7, I will forgive them.
Until they do it again.
This year I will try to forgive every waiter who tries to upsell me a stupid bottle of sparkling water, and then, when I decline, walks away from me like I’m some kind of deadbeat dad. Sparkling water is stupid, and it’s not sparkling. It’s carbonated. It’s Diet Coke minus everything that makes Diet Coke liquid gold. It’s an added expense designed to increase the bill and therefore the tip, when in reality, I’m much more likely to tip well if the waiter simply brings me “still water,” which everyone else just calls water, and leaves the green bottle of nonsense where it belongs.
Still, I will try forgive these waiters, as difficult as it may be.
I will not, however, forgive the beverage snobs who look upon my Diet Coke like planet-killing poison and constantly warn me about its implication upon my health despite the fact that they haven’t seen the inside of a gym in two decades and take the elevator to ascend a single floor.
Forgiveness has its limits, and the beverage snob is one such limit.
I will, however, find it in my heart this year to forgive the old lady with the walker at CVS who cut me in line a couple months ago, forcing me to call her out with a strongly worded, verbal admonition (because I don’t discriminate against people with disabilities or the elderly in any way whatsoever), which led to everyone else standing in line hating me for calling her out.
I forgive the old lady who cut me in line. It was a heinous and despicable act, but on Forgiveness Day, I can find forgiveness for her.
But there will be no forgiveness for the jerks in line who judged me on that day. That elderly woman cut me. I had every right to let her have it. But they had no right to their side-eyes and exasperated sighs. No right to look upon me like I was some kind of insensitive cretin.
No forgiveness for them. Let’s be realistic. It’s Forgiveness Day. Not Miracle Worker Day.
Illustrated by Sean Wang