” Christmas is number one, then my birthday,, then Easter, then Halloween and then Thanksgiving.”– Sydney, Age 8
” My top holiday is Christmas, my middle is Thanksgiving, and my worst is Valentine’s Day. I don’t like the romance stuff– only the candy.” Elijah, age 8.
At age eight, getting presents is a kid’s greatest consideration in ranking the holidays. No doubt, that is why Christmas ranks number one with both these kids. Birthdays, Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day ( none of which are holidays) also rank high with them because they are an opportunity to get candy and gifts.
We grownups have other priorities. For some, the religious significance is paramount. For me, however, holidays are an opportunity to get together with friends and family and share a festive meal. If we define holidays not merely as days off but as opportunities for get-togethers, the list of holidays each year is as follows: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Super Bowl Day and New Year’s Day.
How do I rank these?
Well, of these, Labor Day and Memorial Day are unremarkable and are often spent on vacations or visits.
Christmas is spoilt for me by the emphasis on gifts. I’m sure that, for all of us, the commercialization of Christmas detracts from its significance and our enjoyment.
New Year’s Day we usually spend by ourselves. Our days of going to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop are long gone and we usually spend the last day of the year at home. Sometimes we watch the festivities on TV but , at other times, we are in bed long before midnight. For me, it’s a quiet time, a time for reflection and introspection and not celebration.
The Fourth of July is a time for the outdoors. Picnics and barbecues are the order of the day. Food of course, is a big part of celebrations and the Fourth is a time for beer and hot dogs and hamburgers and grilled chicken and salads and corn on the cob. Besides, when it is hot outside, it makes for a sunny outlook.
Super Bowl Sunday has its pluses and minuses. The two-week gap between the Conference finals and the Super Bowl may be good for the NFL’s marketing but, for me it, the hype and the hoopla get to be too much. I counter by not reading anything about football in the week before the Super Bowl, unless it is about predictions and injury reports. Even on game day, I don’t switch on the TV until half an hour before the game starts. Another drawback is that the game itself may be a dud which , unfortunately, happens about half the time. There are some compensations, such as the humorous Super Bowl ads but, when the game is a blowout as happened last year, even they are not enough. On the plus side, shooting the breeze with like-minded sports fans while chowing down on typical Super Bowl fare ( nachos and dips, chicken wings, chili and , of course, beer) is fun particularly in the middle of winter when there is not much else going on.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is when loved ones make it a point to come home, to connect. I could do with a bit of variety in the menu( turkey can be boring) but there is a charm to sitting around the groaning board, relaxed and happy in each other’s company. I think how different it must have been for the settlers in Plymouth, the hardships that they went through, the intensity of their relief at having gotten through the previous winter and their heartfelt thanks to Nature( for its bounty) and to the Native Americans who sustained them in their darkest times. As I think of these things and look around the faces at the festive table, I reflect with gratitude on how fortunate I have been.
So… my ranking of the holidays is
2. Super Bowl Sunday
3. Fourth of July
5. All the rest ( tie).