Mount Rushmore – Holiday Edition

This Mount Rushmore is going to be a bit different than past ones.  With Halloween just a few hours away — and candy having already been covered in the inaugural Mount Rushmore column — I instead want to discuss holidays.  But holidays are deeply person.  There is no way to even approach an objective ordering of holidays.  And the possible options are nearly infinite.  So rather than argue this week’s topic, let’s simply share, discuss, ask questions, and learn a little bit more about what makes each other tick.  In sharing our favorite holidays — the what’s and the why’s and the how’s and the who’s — we should be able to have a pretty special conversation here.

Without further adieu…

Thanksgiving:  Food.  Football.  Family.  Friends.  Fall.  What could be better?  Many cultures have a harvest festival of one kind or another.  I think this says something about our species.

Christmas:  As a recovering Catholic who would best be described as ambivalent about religion, this is an odd choice for me.  But when I think about the pure excitement that surrounds this holiday, I just feel warm all over.  No matter how old I get, I still relish in the sense of anticipation that surrounds Christmas.  As a youngster, it was about what I would receive.  But now?  Now it is about what I will give.  I love giving gifts.  I give gifts out of one kind or another on an almost daily basis.  Being able to make someone happy in that way just fills me up.  So on Christmas, I can really indulge this.  Also, there is tons of food, tons of wine, and snuggling up by the fireplace.

Memorial Day:  For the past three years, we have hosted a Memorial Day cookout at the house.  Being surrounded by good friends, tipping back some cold ones, and rotating between the grill, the hammock, and the Wiffle ball field is a pretty special day.  Perhaps it is wrong that I think of what was originally intended as a somber day in terms of a giant party, but, hey, that’s where I land.  Plus I’d venture to guess that those who fought and died for our country would look favorably on a joyous gathering of friends loving life.

Valentine’s Day:  I don’t think I’ve ever quite nailed Valentine’s Day.  But as I come to better understand my relationship with love itself and with those who I love, I’ve come to better appreciate a holiday dedicated to recognizing and celebrating love.  Ignore all the bullshit, commercialized trappings of the day and instead focus on what it means to love, to be loved, and to share love.

As you can see, connectedness to others is hugely important to me and was a driving force behind my selections.  So what are yours?  And what can we learn about you from them?

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27 thoughts on “Mount Rushmore – Holiday Edition

  1. 1. Thanksgiving

    2. Passover

    3. Purim

    4. Christmas to New Years: Not because I celebrate but for a non-celebrator it can often be that very rare thing, a completely free day. I love how the world gets quiet at the end of the year. This is quite literal in San Francisco where much of the place seems to leave town and goes back to whereever they came from.


      • Groundhogs day as it is fairly idiotic, and yet symbolizes the most intellectual comedy of the modern era. I also threw an awesome party in high school for GH day, and it has stuck with me.

        Voting day because it is the day when we really have access to our agency. I know it is not an actually holiday, but I feel that it should be, as in a lot of ways it is the most important day.


      • Very cool. I had a college philosophy professor who made us write a paper on Groundhog’s Day and what it told us about a happy life. Best assignment ever!


  2. Thanksgiving – Cook for the family. Use our nice dishes. Express some gratitude for a good life.

    St.Patrick’s Day – Best party of the year if you live in the right kind of town.

    Christmas Day – for all the reason Kazzy mentioned. Remembering the fun parts of my childhood, enjoying the new traditions with the kids and Christmas lights on house make me happy.

    New Year’s Day – Filled with optimism, a fresh start and a blank calendar with all that beautiful white space ready to be filled with fun.


  3. 1. Thanksgiving. Easily the best holiday on the books — it’s about family, friends, food, love, togetherness, and taking stock of what’s good in your life.

    2. Halloween. I think it’s tremendous fun to do the costumes, eat candy, and get together with friends. It’s a fine excuse for the children to burst with fun, and a great opportunity for young adults (by which I mean single twentysomethings) to go party and throw caution to the wind. (Safely, of course.)

    3. Christmas. This atheist loves Christmas. Why? Because the giving and receiving of gifts amongst friends and family is a foundational part of our culture, cementing the bonds that tie people together in our social support networks.

    4. Independence Day, aka July 4. This is when I annually meditate upon the bravery and integrity of the United States’ founding fathers, who were willing to risk death as traitors and suffer tremendous privations, for the sake of the righteousness of due process of law. Then I grill more bratwurst than I can comfortably eat and enjoy the company of my friends, basking in the fruits of our hard-won freedom.


  4. My personal Mount Rushmore:

    1. Winter Holidays (I allow myself to blend because for me it’s a 2-week holiday from work, at a wonderfully snowy cold time of year, at which I get to partake in lots of different rituals – I have Christian, Jewish, atheist, and pagan friends who invite me along for the ride.)
    2. Purim (even though I don’t celebrate it very often, because it is just SPACE AWESOME, that’s why.)
    3. Canada Day (it was more fun in Canada, but I have a Scottish friend at work who wishes me Happy Canada Day throughout the year, which is nicely absurd)
    4. Thanksgiving (which is so tied to fall ritual for me that I think if I moved to the Southern Hemisphere I would insist on celebrating it in February, March, or April, depending on latitude).


      • I used to feel bad for my Jewish friends growing up.

        “Oh, man, [Christian Holiday X] is right around the corner! I’m so excited!”
        “Yea? We’ve got [Jewish Holiday Y] coming up. It’s alright, I guess.”
        “Alright? Holidays are the best! We’re going to eat a bunch of food and open a bunch of presents and there will be more candy than is necessary! Don’t you guys have that?”
        “Sorta. I mean, we’ll eat some bland and/or bitter food, eschew most of life’s luxuries, and spend hours on hours at temple.”
        “Umm… we’re talking about holidays, you know, right?”

        In hindsight, I’ve gained great appreciation for Judaism’s ability to stay focused on the true meaning of many of their holidays.


      • Purim relates to the book of Esther and tells the story of when Haman wanted to kill the Jews and we were saved by Queen Esther and Mordechai and because the king of Persia fell in love with Esther and she went incognito and married him and one night said “Why would you want to kill me?”

        Mike is right that it is a Jewish Mardi Gras. You are supposed to drink so much that you can’t tell the difference between “Blessed be Mordechai and Cursed be Haman.” Also you get to eat Hamantash

        My favorite have raspberry and apricot fillings.

        Now here is a very bad joke:

        Why is Suffragette City the perfect David Bowie song for Purim?


  5. It is not a holiday I celebrate in any form or function, so it feels improper to claim, but Ramadan will always hold a special significance for me as Zazzy and I honeymooned in Istanbul during it and some of our best memories were a direct result of that timing.


  6. Christmas – If we measure holidays in terms of festivity, cultural and religious importance, and family, Christmas is the undisputed #1 Western holiday.

    Veterans Day – To the hardcore, Armistice Day. To the really hardcore, Martinmas. The day of remembrance of soldiers.

    Superbowl Sunday – If it walks like a duck….Let’s face it, this is one of the most celebrated holidays in America.

    July 4th – There are really only three summer holidays: the one that begins summer, the one that ends summer, and this one, which is the best of them.


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