Today is the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. It is not an official holiday or non-working day in America, but it is observed with a zeal like no other. Americans have the least vacation and fewest public holidays of any western industrialized country. So let’s look at the time off that is granted by the government calendar, and take a step back to reflect on these days, their significance, and the meaning behind them.
New Year’s Day
As the calendar changes, we all struggle to get familiar with a new four-digit number. It seems odd, out of place, and utterly unfamiliar, despite its similarity to the one that has become such a reliable companion over the previous months. It is naturally a time for reflection, and an opportunity to start something anew that will make us feel better. Something without the baggage and disappointment of previous failed attempts to start something anew. Apart, of course, from the baggage and disappointment of all the painful memories of previous failed attempts.
As the champagne bubbles recede, we ponder for a moment our newly improved potential life, like holders of a freshly purchased lottery ticket. And just like those ticket holders, with the possible exception of a couple of extra visits to the gym, it doesn’t take long for those dreams to be taken away from us. We are left with the depressing reality of our all too familiar lives, with all the shortcomings we seem destined never to correct. Just add the cold of January as an appropriate chaser as we knock back a shot of unfulfilled hope.
The message of the holiday is clear: forget your dreams and hopes. Now get back to work so you can pay those bills.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on gym membership.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Of all the government-sanctioned holidays, this is the one where we look up at government, tip our hat and say, “Yeah, you really do get me. Respect.” Right? It seems like a wonderful climax to Black History Month. As a reminder, January was selected for this celebration, and with it the barbeques, street carnivals, parades….. oh, right. But it had to be January, that’s the month he was born, right? We are celebrating his life, not his death. Let’s not think of his death which was in April, a much more conducive month for outdoor activities.
What other motivation did our government have to celebrate this great man’s life other than to make a peace offering to a long oppressed underclass in America? Could it be as a reminder that if you do insist on demanding your constitutional rights, to do it peacefully and timidly? None of that messy rioting, thank you very much. And please leave your aggression at home. We have only enough police to round up and imprison small numbers of people. If you all decided to rise up, you would totally overpower the police and the judicial system. Let’s not even go there! So, there. You have your national holiday. You even have your own month. Now run along and get back to your minimum wage job. Those profits won’t make themselves.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on a new car.
Ok, no more ‘Mr. Nice Guy’, let’s get down to the serious business of getting the citizenry practicing their fealty. This is the day where we honor all the iconic leaders of our nation, so many great names deserving of their own day, we just had to roll them all together into this jumbo offering. From the very first slave-owning aristocratic white males, to the forty other white males that followed, the Presidency represents the gold standard in elected office. A reminder that we are part of a democracy in which you, the people, decide who leads the nation. Unless you are a felon. Or don’t have the right ID. Or due to some administrative SNAFU have had your name purged from the voter list.
Anyway, Presidents are awesome, way better than kings and dictators, and a constant reminder that you live in a country where great men will always be there to demand that God bless it.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on new furniture.
Right, now we are hitting our stride. We have already got you hating your belly fat and lack of job prospects, reminded you that you have the right to unthreatening protest which won’t be effective so you might as well stay home, and that you have a government that loves you. Time to remind you that you would be speaking German if we didn’t spend $700bln a year fighting people in countries your sorry fat ass has never heard of. This is your first reminder that American might is needed to liberate markets and natural resources for all the brand names that make your NASCAR races possible. Soldiery is cool. When you look at that no-good son of yours doing nothing but playing on his X-Box, rather than give up on him, tell him “Be all that you can be ®” and go make his old Dad proud. If he’s really lucky, he might be killed in a war with so many others that his name becomes part of a national monument. The weather is getting nice, pools are open, the winter blues are behind us, and everybody is starting to feel a little bit better. Let’s start wrapping a flag around all that bonhomie and make sure that every knows those good vibrations were brought to you by Uncle Sam and his warriors.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on a new pair of khakis.
Yep, the big one: 4th of July. We are not going to even try to make this one subtle. This is going to be unashamed, 24/7, Uncle Sam in your face. We have flags, parades, national anthems, flags, baseball games, flyovers, flags, barbeques and fireworks! Did I mention flags? We are going to dress up America in so much red, white and blue, it will make the Nuremberg rally look like a jamboree. The only tricky part here is to make sure people sing ‘God Bless America’ and not ‘This Land is Your Land’ so we don’t mix our messages.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on a new refrigerator.
Huh? Who let this one in here? This has got to be some kind of mistake. It just goes to show that St. Ronnie wasn’t completely perfect. If you are going to completely dismantle organized labor, at least remember to tidy up the last vestiges of it from the federal government’s calendar. Duh! Don’t worry. I am sure we have our best people as we speak trying to figure out a suitable alternative more befitting the times. 401K Retirement Planning Day? Student Loan Day? Refi Day? We’ll come up with something!
This is also a great time to get a great deal on a new truck.
I got nothing. Let’s celebrate a sailor who got lost and started the European tradition of genocide and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. We might as well just call it the Catholic Italian/Irish Voting Bloc Appeasement Day.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on a meatball sandwich or something. Who cares?
This is an interesting one. I know, I know, you are thinking “Didn’t we already cover all this with Memorial Day?” Well, kind of. We celebrated all the people who were killed in wars on Memorial Day, but on Veteran’s Day, we celebrate all the ones who fought in wars and lived. Sure, anybody in the military complex who gets to wear a uniform on their way to work gets mixed up in all this, but the uniform wearing is really all that we need to snow the klutzes. Whether the weapon you brandished was an M16 or a highlight pen, it doesn’t really matter. Suit up and take a bow.
What’s different about how the U.S. celebrates Veteran’s Day and how the rest of the allied forces celebrate Remembrance Sunday around the same time is subtle but significant. America celebrates its wars and its warriors as heroes. It salutes them for all the youth of the country to see what it takes to become respected: signing up. Europe celebrates Armistice Day and the end of World War I. It is a reminder to the public and politicians of the day of the folly of war. We all know that is just plain bad for business, so for us it is one more chance to dress up granddad and assure us that the untreated PTSD he has endured for his entire adult life was all worthwhile.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on a cup of coffee and junk food if you have had your leg blown off.
This one has been a little tricky to weave into everybody’s imagination for the kumbaya experience we need it to be. True, on the surface it celebrates the survival of the first white settlers, an important milestone on the genocidal takeover of the continent. But boy, if we haven’t managed to turn around that potentially embarrassing footnote in history. Instead, we have turned it into a day for the working poor, including minorities, to remind themselves to be thankful for what little they have. Absolute genius. Let’s go full Roman Empire on them and fill up the coliseum in everybody’s living room with a triple-header of gladiator games to reward the peons for their complicity.
But the true meaning of Thanksgiving is to get everybody on their marks, set and ready to hit the shops on Black Friday. That’s right people, use one of your own precious days off to hit the stores and buy all the crap you think will make little Johnny feel better for the time you can’t spend with him while you are out working two jobs. Remember: you are one of the lucky ones, so don’t be an ingrate. It is not easy keeping so many of the Walton family in the richest-people-in-the-world lists with such lousy profit margins, so we need volume if this is going to work out. So get out there and max out your credit card.
This is also a great time to get a great deal on new electronics, video games, DVDs, and more.
I know, I know, Church & State, blah, blah, blah. But if there’s one thing that any government knows is in its best interests, it is the presence of a strong culture of faith. And more importantly, the fear that comes with traditional Abrahamic faiths in an omnipresent, all-powerful being that will know when the citizens do anything naughty. Even when they think about anything naughty! Come on, do you know how much that level of surveillance would actually cost to implement and operate on a daily basis? And for now, until we can figure out a way to justify arresting people for thought crimes without blowing the lid off the whole freedom, liberty and equality narrative, religion is the only viable option to keep the schlubs docile. So, we have to throw a dog a bone. And what a bone it is for some of our favorite ‘news’ channels. The way they use it to get the working poor upset at their fellow citizens for trying to take away one of their few sources of comfort. No way we’re giving that one up any time soon!
This is also a great time to return all the crap that your relatives bought you and trade it in for a great deal on a new gym membership.
See New Year’s Day. Repeat.
(1) “Little patriot” by karol m from arizona, USA – Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Little_patriot.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Little_patriot.jpgFollow @TeflonDub