While at the parade during Festival Days (our local three-day holiday) a fellow watcher and I started making bets on which children, all hellbent on amassing the most candy, were most likely to get run over first and which most likely to fall into a deep diabetic coma before supper.
In the middle of all this side-betting entertainment, the woman commented that this was the first day of candy season and, y'know, I'd never thought of it that way before, but with few gaps in candy service, it really is candy season from the parade in mid-September through Easter.
I've thought about the woman's simple observation since that day, and it occurs to me that most of our holidays are not what they seem or are just gateways to other types of celebrations.
Labor Day doesn't celebrate the efforts of the working stiff; it's the traditional end of summer and the beginning of the peaceful season when parents and people who drive the streets during the day can function under the sweet assurance that kids are in school and not terrorizing their homes or the streets with their laughter and merriment and general youthful hi-jinks from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Halloween is just Christmas Advertising Eve, celebrating the last day before the commercially hijacked 54 Days of Christmas.
Election Day, which doesn't seem like a holiday but really is for city and county employees, is simply that heady day of voter activity that heralds the eve of the next election campaign season.
Thanksgiving doesn't celebrate the unity of people from different walks of life coming together over a good meal like the early Pilgrims and the Native Americans who saved them. It has become the day of thanksgiving and calorie consumption to prepare oneself spiritually and physically for the shopping marathon which begins at the stroke of midnight leading into Black Friday shopping madness.
I imagine that one day the future little Johnnies and Suzies will be in a school play that explains how people of all backgrounds originally came together to fortify themselves with organic foods, grown native to the area, so that they might go forth with pure and nourished hearts on a pilgrimage into local stores, shopping until they drop into a deep, exhausted sleep called, euphemistically, a "trip to fan."
Thanksgiving will also be known forever as the harbinger of Christmas music.
Christmas for kids is the last, but ultimately awesomest day of present and candy bingeing before the long, dry spell waiting for Valentine's candy and Easter gifts — a wait that is, like, for. ever.
New Year's Day is (other than the first day of Hangover) the first day of self-delusion as we pretend it's a new beginning that we're going to get right this time, rather than just being another day that, if we're lucky, we get to have off.
Valentine's Day to Easter is that blessed time of year which the Capitalism Fairie has miraculously converted — via the candy, greeting card and general merchandising magic wand — into the chocolate portion of candy season.
Who knew a pagan holiday celebrating carnal love and a Christian holiday honoring purity and rebirth could come together — like someone getting chocolate in someone else's peanut butter, or peanut butter in the chocolate — to create such a beautiful chocolate-treat season.
Memorial Day honors the death of another school year. Long live the summer.
Fourth of July, of course, is — well, come to think of it, I think it's the only holiday that is what it is: a truly independent day — no candy, no gifts, no lead-in to another holiday, just beer. barbecue and explosives.
(Happy Black Friday, may it be in-the-blacker than last year at firstname.lastname@example.org.)