Friday, January 1, 2021

I have, without a doubt, been waiting for this day with hungry anticipation. I feel a tremendous weight is about to be shuffled off my shoulder-tops and plopped down in the annals of get-the-hell-outa-here history. I’m going to take a few moments to sum up this year of weirdness.

First off, while committing to a daily writing project is certainly within my wheelhouse, I’m not sure it’s something I’d want to do again. Second, I will accept my failings in this project, mainly for having bit off more than I could feasibly masticate. Writing? Sure. A sprawling social media presence, plus daily recap videos, plus videos of our celebrations, plus attempting to promote this thing and spread the word? That was a bit much. Planning out grocery shopping lists was a pain, but adding in scheduling trips in autonomous vehicles and frolicking with penguins made this feel like a full-time job with unpaid overtime (and unpaid regular time).

Then there was the virus. The virus kicked this project’s butt, cancelling most of the fun stuff we had planned, and re-focusing our efforts on writing and writing alone. Jodie was too busy last year to pitch in as much as she’d hoped, so it all fell to me. And while we had a devoted group of beloved fans, word never really spread. There was too much competition in the air, and flagrantly celebrating chicken-fried steak while thousands of people are dying seemed almost vulgar at times. It was bad luck, coupled with a severe understaffing issue.

But that’s not to say it was a waste of time. We had a formidable distraction to keep us from dwelling on the bad news. We tried new things, like haggis and coffee milkshakes. We plunged lots of money into the local economy, mostly to local shops and restaurants. We did what little we could to add to the noise of positivity and joy in the world. And we finished with a grand total of 2,139 celebrations. That’s a lot more than our initial goal (1,000), and enough to call this project a genuine success. And now it’s over. And now we can rest. Here was how we finished the year:

National Champagne Day

Of course, it’s not actually National Champagne Day unless you celebrate it in the Champagne region of France. So technically for us it was National Sparkling Wine Day. And we celebrated it with… Prosecco. A sparkling wine that is not, by definition, champagne. But it’s close enough for 2020.

Champagne has been associated with royalty since the 1600s, which explains its huge bump in popularity among the middle-class folk in the 20th century. We all wanted to feel more like the upper class back then, right? That’s why Hochtaler, a company that makes crappy wine sold in cardboard boxes, used to market to us with a fancy-looking woman wearing a top hat.

The first bottles of champagne, which were created accidentally in France, were known as the Devil’s Wine, which sounds to me like an even better marketing opportunity than the whole ‘royalty’ thing. It wasn’t until Adolphe Jaquesson came up with a way to keep the corks from flying from the bottles in 1844 that the stuff could be mass-produced.

Neither of us are big fans of bubbly wine, but we acknowledge its remarkable association with partying and celebration. And so we honoured that tradition last night, by guzzling some of that sacred bubbly on the day we are supposed to. Our final food-based scheduled celebration. Also, our final alcohol-based scheduled celebration. I’ll miss these.

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day

If you think that our little planet just spins along with no one paying attention, comfortably fitting in as we swap our 2020 Word-A-Day calendar for our 2021 Hot-Babes-of-New-Brunswick calendar, then I’m afraid you are mistaken. People are watching this stuff, keeping track of how quickly our little space-rock is twirling, down to the nanosecond.

And it ain’t always consistent. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERRSS, which sounds like “ears” when you say it out loud) keeps an eye on the rate of rotation for us. Every so often they have to add an extra second to our year, just to allow our planet to catch up with all the clocks and other measuring devices we use. The earth’s rotation has been speeding up lately – most likely because even this planet was desperate to get the hell out of 2020 – so EARS announced that there would be no additional second yesterday.

The extra seconds are plopped at the very end of either June 30 or December 31. Good news for all of us: there was no additional second added in June, and there wasn’t one added yesterday either. We didn’t have to wait an extra moment to escape last year. The EARS folks will crunch their numbers and let us know about June 30, 2021, but you’re on your own for that one. We most likely will not be paying attention.

But we were ready. Isn’t that all that matters?

Make Up Your Mind Day

This is the day we are supposed to declare our intentions. Yes, this seems remarkably similar to making New Years resolutions, and… well, it is. It’s the same thing, but in a more bold and pronounced way.

Jodie has made up her mind to keep pushing through her Masters program this year, and to do so while continuing to volunteer for the homeless, and to fight for racial equity. I have made up my mind to begin a new writing project, one which will culminate in a single completed product, and not a series of daily submissions that will slowly erode my sanity.

We made up our minds to continue to isolate and mask up until the medical community suggests otherwise. We made up our minds to commit to new adventures in 2021, not by some arbitrary schedule but whenever we damn well feel like it, in order to keep complacency and boredom at bay. We made up our minds to stick with only three dogs and not to acquire anymore.

I made up my mind about that last one, but I’m sure Jodie will be on board. We made up our minds to reach out to friends and family regularly, and to keep those bonds strong. I made up my mind to focus on my health throughout the next year, continuing to allow Liberty to exercise me, and maybe cutting back on the evening snacks. Once we run out of our snack supply – I mean, we aren’t just going to throw this stuff out. We aren’t monsters.

More than anything, we made up our minds to relax as much as possible, and to spend more time with one another and less time on our phones. We have to emerge from this year with some sort of lesson, right? Valuing one another’s company sounds like a fine moral to take from this mess. Happy New Year to all.

No Interruptions Day

This was meant to be celebrated on the last workday of the year. I suppose, given that yesterday was a Thursday, it would be a workday for office folk who hadn’t booked it off. As a government drone, I was gifted the day by our union’s last negotiations. I should have celebrated this back on the 18th.

But I requested no interruptions for the duration of my writing, and even the dogs helped me out with that. I sat in my little office, looking out at the same snowy landscape I’ve been enjoying since March, and nobody got in my way while I wrote. They all knew it was my last stab at this daily obligation.

That said, I don’t mind interruptions. In fact, I often welcome them. It’s not that they improve my workflow, but they do push me toward my goals eventually, if only by adding some urgency when I finally get my focus back. In re-reading that, it all sounds wildly unhealthy in terms of productivity, but hey – I made it through 366 days and over 2,000 celebrations with this philosophy on interruptions. And I still managed to do most of the work my bosses dropped on my desk. And I swear, I’m damn close to finishing the story mode in Red Dead Redemption 2. And I’d have completed that narrative, if it weren’t for all the pesky interruptions of every day life.

Ultimately, the greatest interruption to my life in 2020 was this project, which will be put on the shelf going forward. So No Interruptions Day is technically my final day of interruption. Hmm.

Universal Hour Of Peace

We can thank Dr. Barbara Condron from the School of Metaphysics for this one. She dropped this into the collective consciousness back in 1995, primarily to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. It has since been bumped to 11:30pm on New Year’s Eve, in order to create a bubble of peace in the middle of which is the dawn of a new calendar year. In a sense, since this extended until 12:30am last night, this was the last celebration in which we took part.

The idea here is to meditate, or to discuss possible roads to a greater universal peace among humans. And animals. Why not animals too? Peace is the gist here, and we took part by maintaining a peaceful state for the full duration of those 60 minutes. We did not meditate – there was too much alcohol in our systems to do that appropriately. But we did remember to Make Up Our Minds to meditate more in the new year. And we refrained from committing any acts of violence within that hour.

This world needs a whole lot of healing, and not just from the virus, or from the environment, or from the political divides circling the globe. As humans we all need to heal our spirits in a wholistic way. That ain’t happening in a single hour – especially one that I’m sure no one else really knew about last night at 11:30pm – but it’s a start. We’ve got to be working toward that goal if we’re going to stand a chance, right?

New Year’s Eve

We drank. We played games. We ordered Chinese food. We laughed about the stuff worth laughing about and paid a moment’s pause to reflect on all the lives needlessly lost in the last year. We have documented our lives over these previous 366 days in a way unlike any other time in our experience, so we’ll have plenty of words and photos to remember this year.

This fucking year. The year Jodie and I were hoping would be our deliverance into a new age of enlightened joy and appreciation for all the minutiae in our lives. The year we’d hoped to dip our psyches into new adventures under water and in the skies. The year we thought would be a supreme life-changer for us. This fucking year.

It wasn’t all bad. I’ve outlined above that there is plenty of good we can take from this year, and some excellent insights and understanding that will buffer us in the days going forward. Mostly we achieved liberty this year. Not the vague notion of freedom and independence from oppression, but literally Liberty. We left 2020 with one dog more than we’d had when the year began, and Liberty is a genuine treat who will keep us engaged and entertained for many years going forward. She may be the true high point of this year. Thanks, National Golden Retriever Day. You were truly the brightest light of the year.

There were three of us ringing in the new year, the same three who rang in the last one together. Last year we did so with hope and optimism, and with a succession of bizarre post-midnight celebrations to launch this project. This year we did so with hope and optimism, mostly because we survived last year, and it’s over. This fucking year.

A joyous and celebratory New Year’s to everyone. I hope you came out of this weird succession of days with some wisdom and hopefully something wonderful. Like a new puppy. A new puppy is true joy. Maybe that’s the big lesson of 2020. Who would argue?

Today? What I’m doing today is my business. I’ll be resting, I’ll be relaxing, and I’ll be living my best life.

I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to the people who made this possible: Colton and Daria, for contributing a few of our fancier culinary exploits to the project, and Abbey for getting her hands dirty and celebrating with us as often as she could. I’d like to thank my friend Mark for helping to get me set up with the equipment I thought I’d need when this was going to be a video-heavy endeavour. I’d like to thank Stew and Blythe, and the other friends who joined us on our adventures before we all had to be locked up in our homes.

The biggest thank-yous go to our team baker (thanks, ma!), who not only prepared some of our most elaborate baked goods that I’d have never had time to create, but who also joined us for countless state-celebrating dinners and other assorted parties this year. She even pitched in to help me make my first (and likely last) Baked Alaska. Also to my three canine research companions, without whom this year would have been a dreary crap-bucket.

And of course, my lovely wife helped to make this all possible. She supported the idea, and while she was not able to pitch in and be as big a part of it as she’d hoped to be, absolutely none of this would have happened without her enthusiasm, and her commitment to seeing this madness through to its conclusion. Which has thankfully come at last.

Lastly, a big ol’ thanks to everyone who joined in and read the articles, watched the videos, and liked/shared/commented on our social media posts. We have some incredible friends and family, and we’ve made a few along the way. Friends, I mean. I don’t think anyone new joined our family. But thanks to Shelly, Lori, Kathy, Kerry, Chris, Ross, Keri, Kel, Jeanine, Heather, Nicole, and all the other ‘regulars’ who made it a point to click ‘Like” or drop a comment to let us know we aren’t celebrating in a void. You truly kept us going.

Today is New Year’s Day. A fresh page in a fresh chapter, and the options for how to celebrate it are as wide and far-flung as your imagination. And in the end, that is most likely the lesson I’ll take away from all of this: Never Stop Celebrating Life.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

This is my final article of this project that will feature a ‘Today’ section packed with celebrations and whatnot to occupy my time. I can summarize how much sadness I feel about this with a glorious little jig my brain dances upon the parquet floor of my skull every time I think about it. Good riddance to 2020, and a pre-adios to this project which has crumbled beneath the weight of its own ambition. We shan’t be welcoming the new year the same way we did last year. First off, I don’t need to celebrate National Hangover Day tomorrow, so I won’t be doing shots of peach vodka until I puke this year. Secondly, we indulged in numerous rituals to bring good fortune into the new year, including throwing bread, leaping off chairs, eating grapes, ringing a bell and dropping ice cream on the floor. We did all that, and got 2020 as a result. So we’ll be repeating none of those customs tonight. Here’s how we spent our penultimate day of celebration:

Falling Needles Family Fest

For one final bow before the curtain drops, I give you Thomas and Ruth Roy. Thomas was an actor – you might remember him as the street preacher in the 1995 film 12 Monkeys. He spent years as a DJ. He and his wife Ruth created more than 80 holidays, which all showed up as the most entertaining entries in Chase’s Calendar of Events in our research for this project. We made it part of our mission to celebrate as many of these as humanly possible.

Take Your Houseplants For A Walk Day. Stay Away From Seattle Day. Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day. Yell “Fudge” At The Cobras In North America Day. These are just a handful of the madcap mayhem-fests the Roys have bestowed upon our 2020, and they never even realized it. Yesterday I sent them an email of thanks. I’ll drop an update if they happen to write back.

The purpose of this one is to take down the Christmas tree and… I don’t know, deal with it. I have only undertaken the savage ritual of having a living tree in my house once, and I think we just plopped it out by the trash on trash day. We plopped our artificial tree back into its basement hidey-hole for the next year, along with all the rest of our indoor and outdoor decorations. The deChristmification of the Schwartz compound is complete, and that means we are a step closer to summer and the hammock.

Thank you, Roys, for adding the sparkle to this year’s schedule of insanity.

National Bacon Day

It’s perfect. On the penultimate day of the project that has drained more than 2,000 entries from my fingertips, we get what some may consider to be the greatest of all national days. Bacon is such immense joy that even our cultural over-saturation of bacon obsession has done nothing to sway our taste buds. It is the most prized salted meat. The star of any breakfast it deigns to crash.

In my previous project, I penned a thoughtful and genuine love letter to bacon. I’m going to copy it here, because nothing I can say about the stuff could do it any more justice than this:

Dear Bacon,

Your salty scent and savory crunch have coaxed me into buildings, distorted my perception of satisfactory portion sizes, and pinched my most base sense of temptation. While your sodium and fat content may lure me to a premature traffic jam of goop in my arteries, you remain an irresistible force.

Were I imprisoned in a fantasy-scape of hardboiled fiction, you would be my femme fatale. My meat fatale.

You are a complete thought, an understanding between myself and the greater universe. When my grandmother asks why I don’t keep kosher, you are my sole justification. “Because, bacon.” Had she ever experienced your essence, she would understand.

I have been asked by fellow bacon enthusiasts (or, right-minded gourmands, as I call us) if Canadian bacon is the norm up here. In reply I ask, how could such a second-rate cut of pork inspire the same devotion as genuine bacon?

I grant you, a fine Canadian bacon can be a pristine purveyance of porcine pleasure, but it isn’t the same. We call it ‘peameal bacon’ because it used to be rolled in dried yellow peas (why???). Now they roll it in cornmeal. It’s nice, but it’s “ham” nice. It’s not you.

I know, they call back bacon ‘bacon’ in England, but what do they do in England that isn’t backwards anyway? In Ireland, back bacon slices are called ‘back rashers’, probably because it’s easy to pronounce when you’re drunk. But I’m not here to rattle on about your competition.

So much has been created in your honor. No longer are you condemned to wallow with ham slices and sausages as an optional companion for hashbrowns beside a Moons Over My-Hammy. You have been liberated from L. and T., your sandwich friends; you’ve been removed from your burger and whistle-dog prisons, and idolized throughout western society.

As it was meant to be.

I’ve sprinkled your bits on salad (I apologize if that sounds naughty), singled you out as the only valid ingredient in baked potato soup, and even indulged in a wild gustatory ménage-a-trois with you and chocolate.

I have sampled your dalliance with mayonnaise, and while I find the name ‘Baconnaise’ to be a frothy tickle upon my tongue, I cannot keep this product in my home for fear that I’d disappear into a cupboard with but the jar and a soup-spoon.

Someone told me once about Bacon Grill and I nearly wept. Leave it to those crazy Dutch to turn you into a Spam-like glob. Honestly, that is a crime against more than humanity – it is a crime against baconity.

The ingredients for this abomination include “mechanically recovered pork” and “mechanically recovered chicken”. Not only does my mind boggle at the inclusion of poultry into the holy sanctity of your realm, but I can’t help but wonder from whence these meats have been recovered.

Turkey bacon and tofu bacon will come no nearer to my lips than Bacon Grill. Bacon needs no modifiers to bring it to life. It is life, in fact, that needs modifiers. The modification of bacony goodness.

First and most logically are the joyous beverages your bounty can provide. A bacon martini (also called a bacontini or a Pig On The Rocks) features bacon-infused vodka. To get straight to the point on a Friday eve, I might prefer the Mitch Morgan: a shot of whiskey with a bacon garnish.

I confess, my affections are pure. While I appreciate the mountains of tributes to you in the form of various non-food products, I prefer to indulge in your essence solely by your presence. Things get a little weird when people try to baconize the rest of the world.

I have sampled bacon gum and bacon mints, and they taste like bacon might in a darker, more wretched dimension. The bacon air fresheners that may adequately proclaim one’s love for you visually, fail to capture the glory of your olfactory delight. To be honest, some of these products may not even be real:

Bacon bandages. I have used them, and not only is their adhesive quality sub-par when compared to Band-Aid brand, they simply make me hungry.

Bacon baby formula. I agree completely with this product’s intention: to indoctrinate young taste buds into the holy benefits of a bacon lifestyle.

Bacon-flavored Diet Coke. I know this isn’t real, but I just love the picture.

Bacon hot sauce. Absolutely. Why settle for making food spicier, when you can make food both spicier and baconier?

Bacon toothpaste. Sure, some people may shy away from this concept, and it may be because the product actually tastes extremely unpleasant (which I imagine it does). But no true devotee to the sweet bosom of bacony bliss would refuse to try it. Just once.

Bacon luggage. This one is probably fake. It would be a great way to confuse drug-sniffing dogs though.

A bacon-themed coffin. I suppose once you’ve sampled every other bacon product on Earth, this would be your last stop on the tasty train.

Bacon personal lubricant. Ummm… this might be a bit much.

Dear, sweet bacon, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my cholesterol count for the many hours of gourmet goodness you have provided. While someday you may be the cause of my ultimate demise, I will savor my journey to that great beyond, one thick-cut, extra-crispy slice at a time.


A fan.

Thanks, bacon. It’s been nearly eight years since I wrote those words, but they still ring true today. We had some of you on pizza last night because you rock. Happy day to you.

That’s it for the 30th. And for one final time, here’s what we have to look forward to today, should we feel so oomphed:

  • National Champagne Day. No kidding. Prosecco will have to count as close enough, and you know what? After this year, close enough is good fucking enough.
  • Leap Second Time Adjustment Day. Every so often they add an extra second to the year, just to keep the calendar intact. We’ll check if it happened this year.
  • Make Up Your Mind Day. I guess this is the day we… make up our minds?
  • Universal Hour of Peace. Between 11:30 and 12:30 (so, around midnight tonight) we will refrain from any acts of bloodshed.
  • No Interruptions Day. I have three dogs. That doesn’t happen.
  • New Year’s Eve. Of course!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Tomorrow we will unleash our final celebrations upon the world (which, for us, is this house), and the true twist ending to this madness will be revealed. Spoiler: it turns out the celebrations were in our hearts the entire time. Or something equally as trite, I’m sure. No, there isn’t much left to celebrate, and on January 1 I hope to have a final count of our acknowledged tributes throughout the year. I’ll probably also hammer out a quick summation of how I feel this project has gone before turning the word processor off and getting the hell back to life. Because life is still happening, as much as our calendar tries to point us elsewhere. Yesterday, however, the calendar didn’t have much to say. Here was our Tuesday:

Tick Tock Day

No, this has nothing to do with that video-sharing site, as evidenced by the proper English spelling of both tick and tock in its title. This is one more Thomas and Ruth Roy celebration creation, a day for us to fashion our list of the stuff we still want to get done before the year expires. It’s true – this article will land on the interweb machines less than 48 hours before the year comes to a close.

Of course, haven’t we done enough for 2020 at this point? We’re all eager for the new year to begin, not because we believe it holds the promise of an instant-fix for all that plagues the world, but because we are optimistic that a fresh start might begin a steady uptick in quality of life that will restore our lives at least mostly back to what they were before 2020 kicked their asses.

Here’s what I still have to do this year:

  • Celebrate. We have a handful of celebrations to cover today and tomorrow, and we don’t plan on simply crawling feebly over the finish line.
  • Write. Whatever we celebrate gets documented. Probably not on our social media channels, as we have most abandoned sharing everything there. But you’ll see it all right here.
  • Cook. I’m the cook of the house, and I have one more meal to make this year. We’ve decided on Chinese food for tomorrow night, because we know how to live.
  • Walk. These dogs need exercise, and while I’ve vowed to avoid walking them when the mercury plunges below -20, we aren’t anywhere near that. So off we’ll go.
  • Puzzle. We started a jigsaw puzzle a couple days ago, and we plan on finishing it. And maybe starting another.

That’s it. 2020 can fuck right off, apart from those few remaining chores, none of which are particularly gruelling or unpleasant. We may as well enjoy these last few hours of a year we’ll all spend the rest of our lives trying to forget.

National Hero Day

One of my primary sources for this project, National Day Calendar, created this one, likely because if they hadn’t, there wouldn’t be much of anything to fill the spot on December 29. It’s a day to celebrate real-life heroes (as opposed to, say, Iron Man) for all the greatness they have bestowed upon the planet throughout the year.

It’s going to be really cliché and potentially hokey if I use this time to praise front-line healthcare workers, right? Well, fuck it. I can’t think of anyone I know who exemplifies the notion of ‘hero’ right now more than Kohley, Jenny, and the other doctors and nurses I know who are out there getting all close-up with sick folk right now. They’re not only fighting a pandemic which scientists are still figuring out, but they’re fighting a wealth of ignorance and unearned chutzpah that propels anti-maskers to march in the streets and ignore recommendations.

In 2001, the firefighters and police were the heroes everyone swooned for. And those folks are still heroes by today’s standards (though the police system has certainly be shown to be broken lately). But it took a worldwide health emergency for the doctors and nurses to get the spotlight, and really it’s one they’ve deserved since the dawn of their professions. Would you want to sponge up gross human fluids, or hold someone’s hand as they fearfully tumbled into the void beyond this existence? I sure as hell wouldn’t, pandemic or not. Yes, they get paid for this work, and yes, they could opt out and get a job selling Subarus or something. But they don’t. They keep our world going.

So that’s my big salute for this one. I hold teachers and other people who work in relatively thankless jobs in the same regard, but the front-line healthcare folks get the attention today. They have had a year rougher than most.

National Eggs Benedict Day

This day landed on April 16, and it was – in my opinion – our greatest failing of the year. Well, my greatest failing. I tried making hollandaise sauce, and the butter was poured in too quickly, causing the sauce to separate into something gross and inedible. We ate our eggs benedict sauceless on that day, and it tasted about as good as it sounds.

On Christmas morning, I tried again. And the result was tasty enough for eggs benny to become our new Christmas brunch tradition. With proper hollandaise. I’m not counting this as another celebration, just as a fix of an earlier disaster. Huzzah.

Such a short day, though I assure you I re-celebrated National Chocolate Candy Day, just to make sure I’d done it right. We can’t be too careful with some of these. National Rum Day (from August) was also revisited. Here’s today’s lineup:

  • National Bicarbonate of Soda Day. Well, if we need Alka-Seltzer to come to the rescue today, we’ll be ready.
  • Falling Needles Family Fest. A time to clean up after Christmas. I guess that means we tidy the house.
  • National Bacon Day. Yes, this one was cleverly stashed at the end of the year. It might be the only way we’ve made it this far.
  • Festival of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute. Sure. Is this where we announce that we’re celebrating for the next 365 days? (spoiler: no)

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

We spent a very non-standard-issue Monday yesterday. Apart from being off from work (which was divine), we took the day off from life in general. Meals were cooked and dogs were walked, but the rest of our time (obligatory writing excluded) was spent in full recreation mode. This is how we plan on spending every day of this final week of 2020, not out of resentment for a challenging calendar year, or as some sort of rebellion against obligation and responsibility. We simply feel we have earned it. Jodie has achieved the halfway mark in her hunt for her Masters degree, Abbey is on the precipice of graduating this spring, and I… well, I did all this. And I still have to do some soul-scraping and discover what grand lesson I’ve learned about life and/or myself this year. So far all I’ve got is “I hate riding the bus and I’m sick of writing an article every damn day”. Not much, but it’s a start. Here’s how we Mondayed:

National Short Film Day

We actually Sundayed this one, by celebrating it a bit early. We are big fans of short films. Every year (prior to this past year, when this project took all of our free time) we aim to watch every movie in Oscar contention before the award ceremony in February. The short films are usually tricky to track down, though a local theatre does put on an exhibition of the live action and animated shorts a week or so before the broadcast. Short documentary films are tougher to find.

But we have seen some incredible work over the last few years. Skin and Fauve, both up for the 2018 Oscar, were game-changing. Hair Love, which won the animated short Oscar last year, was touching. Bao, the Pixar-created short which won the year before, is utterly beautiful. Every year Pixar gets a film in contention for this Oscar, and they tend to win more often than not. Last night we watched Burrow, which was released to pair with Soul, Pixar’s newest feature on Disney+. We have no doubt both will be among the list of nominees in their respective categories.

A subscription service called Film Movement Plus created National Short Film Day only a year ago, most likely as a way to get people to watch movies on their site, and hopefully throw them some cash. Their selection looks intriguing for folks who are into foreign and obscure artsy movies. I fit that bill perfectly, but I’ve got the Criterion service starting up on January 1, and that (along with the Kanopy offerings from our library for free) will keep me busy enough. But watching a short film for this celebration was an absolute treat. Take six minutes of your life (if you’ve got the Disney service) and check out Burrow. It’s damn sweet.

National Download Day

I deferred to Jodie for this one. Apparently, December 28 is the most active day on app stores every year. Why that is, I have no idea. Do people give app store gift cards for Christmas? Then do people tend to wait until three days after Christmas to cash in those cards and get some stuff? Are app-lovers that patient?

I received no such gift card, and I have no use for any new apps. The only app I use for productivity on my phone is my Google calendar app (which I will suddenly use a whole lot less in three days), and maybe my Webex chat app if the program on my computer isn’t working properly. I have exactly the right number of games that hold my interest on my phone, in that I will not ever find myself bored without anything to play. I scrolled through some of the suggested offerings and came up dry.

But Jodie doesn’t play a lot of games on her phone. One, specifically. A generic brick-breaker game with a seemingly endless supply of levels (she is up over 4,000 now). The other day she decided she wanted something new, so for National Download Day she found something called Project Makeover. It’s essentially the exact same game she has already played for more than four thousand levels, but with the added between-level feature of being able to make over an avi and its residence. So, a game plus some stuff that a hairstylist or interior decorator would call “work”. But she likes it, and that’s all that matters.

National Card Playing Day

This is most likely a perfect fit for holiday seasons when folks are still gathered together, have recovered from their holiday (and post-holiday leftover) feast, and have finished all their Boxing Day shopping trips. Yet they are still stuck with these people through the new year, so they may as well do something to pass the time. Hey, everyone knows a card game or two, right?

We only had three of us present for this holiday season, and while we have recovered from our delightful foodstuff consumption, we did not go shopping and we aren’t really lacking in things to keep us occupied until the chiming of midnight Thursday night. And the place we’d play cards is currently occupied by a partially-built jigsaw puzzle. So I took matters into my own hands and dusted off my Fairway Solitaire app so I could play some virtual cards.

There is no specific origin story to this day, but my prediction from two paragraphs ago sounds about right. Most of these celebrations this year have stemmed from someone using some logic to justify the date to themselves, then submitting it to a website or to Chase’s Calendar of Events to make it ‘official’. Nothing is truly official. Maybe that’s the big lesson of 2020.

National Call A Friend Day

My old pal Steve took care of this one for me. A couple days ago he surprised me with a Facetime call, which was a treat since I haven’t seen the guy since before this fiasco started last December. He lives in Calgary, and despite his dad living a few miles away from me, he has avoided traveling up here all year. I understand – who wants to come to a city where a ridiculous number of numbskulls march through our downtown every weekend, decrying the ‘oppression’ of having to wear masks?

We don’t use the phone nearly as often as we need to, and I don’t think that’s an erosion of social skills as much as a recognition of efficiency. Texting gets the point across quicker, and those who know my voice can even deliver my jokes in the correct way when I write them out, or so I hope.

In between casual card games, phoning up a friend and swapping holiday stories sounds nice. That said, everyone who wants to know what we did for the holidays can simply be directed to this website, thus saving me the hassle of having to hold a conversation for any length of time. That’s what we call a win in the celebration industry.

National Maine Day

No, we did not forget this final entry in our culinary trip around the United States. I’m pretty sure we nailed between 46 and 48 states this year, skipping only a few when we couldn’t obtain the necessary ingredients to try their regional dishes. Maine was one that might have also been tossed into the skip-bin, but dammit, we do surf & turf at Christmas in this household, and the Pine Tree State is well-revered for its surf contributions. Pictured above is the lobster feast we enjoyed on Boxing Day. Or, as we shall call it henceforth, Maine Day.

Maine was perfectly positioned to be among the first US colonies, but it wasn’t snared by colonizing Americans when 1776 went down. The British, French, and of course those indigenous Algonquins were fighting for the land, and for a while during the War of 1812 it was claimed as part of Canada. When that didn’t stick, it became a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820 when it split off and became its own state.

The small town of Lubec (motto: “We have a bridge to Canada!”) is the easternmost settlement in America, with its lighthouse being the closest American structure to the shores of Africa. Not counting any American embassies in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, I guess. Maine remained Republican throughout the Great Depression, and along with Vermont was one of the only states that never cast an electoral vote for FDR. After that, they started leaning left a little more, and throughout its recent history it has been one of the strongest states for supporting independent candidates. The most populous city in the entire state is Portland, which tops out at just over 66,000 residents. It’s a great place to go if you want to visit the scenery. Or eat the lobster, which we totally did.

And to keep consistency with all of our other entries, let’s briefly celebrate a few famous Maineans (or Maine-landers, or whatever). We’ve got the lovely and talented Andrea Martin from Portland, Judd Nelson from Portland, Linda “Alice” Lavin from Portland, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from Portland (yes, most all of these people are from Portland), John O’Hurley (Seinfeld’s J. Peterman) from Kittery, David E. Kelly from Waterville, Anna Kendrick from Portland, Stephen King (obviously) from Portland, Charles Rocket from Bangor, Timothy Simons (Jonah, the best character on Veep) from Readfield, the great director John Ford from Cape Elizabeth, Kevin Eastman (co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) from Portland, Patrick Dempsey from Lewiston, and lastly the great Milton Bradley, who was born in Vienna.

It’s been a fun trip around the country. I hope to do it in person someday, eating even more regional gems.

National Chocolate Candy Day

We have so many to choose from. Pictured above is some of the chocolate peppermint bark my father-in-law got me for Christmas. It was delightful. Days involving the words ‘chocolate’ and ‘candy’ have been among my favourites this year – it only makes sense that a day that combines both words would be an absolute treat.

Are we winding down? Building up to a big finale? Probably just winding down, but just in case, here’s what we could get up to today:

  • National Pepper Pot Day. A very complicated soup food that requires ox tail. I shan’t be making this.
  • Tick Tock Day / Still Need To Do Day. What final things do we have to do in 2020, apart from get the hell out of 2020?
  • National Hero Day. I guess heroes deserve a day too. Seriously? That’s it for the 29th?

Monday, December 28, 2020

It was a Sunday, and we were offered only three possible celebrations for the day. One involved fruitcake, something none of us have ever enjoyed (apart from when we chucked it off a cliff back in January). Another advised us to visit the zoo, which is closed for a spectacular looking lighting display at the moment. Tickets for that event have been sold out for ages, mainly because it’s a walk-through exhibit and they have to account for proper social distancing and slow-moving old people. That left us only one thing, which we weren’t particularly jazzed about. This will be an utterly brief article – in fact, probably the briefest of the year. There really isn’t much to say about this:

Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day

Kirigami is a form of origami that involves folding up paper and using scissors to create masterworks like the ones pictured above.

That’s it. That’s our December 27. We indulged in this little craft project, and moved on with our lives. It was almost like a sneak preview of next year. It was a little bit glorious.

It was also the 53rd anniversary of Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album, so I gave that a spin. It was the least I could do, to try to incorporate a bit more celebration into an otherwise incredibly sparse day. Maybe we’ll find more to keep us busy today.

Today does indeed feature a small (but still significant) multitude of potential celebrations. Here’s what’s on our radar:

  • National Short Film Day. Short films are a great way to spend some time, whether it’s Salvador Dali’s weird and disturbing Un Chien Andalou or the new Pixar short. We can do this one.
  • National Chocolate Candy Day. What luck – Christmas gifted us all with some chocolate candy to enjoy.
  • National Card Playing Day. We have the time and we have a deck of cards. I think we can dive into this one too.
  • National Call A Friend Day. Who will be the lucky recipient? Or unlucky… does anyone still enjoy talking on the phone?
  • National Download Day. I guess it’s a good day to snag some illegal movies?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Back to gimmick-free writing, in which I can really, truly, and absolutely use as many adverbs as I wish. It’s kind of a relief, though I appreciated my No-L Christmas challenge. Yesterday we created the Christmas feast we’d planned for the 25th, and we embraced the fact that we didn’t have to leave the house for anything. In fact, we probably don’t need to leave the house for the next week, though I suspect doughnuts may be in the cards in a few days. It also occurred to me that in a week I will no longer be documenting the bizarre minutiae of my days. I can return to a life of mystery and quiet solitude. That doesn’t sound so bad, really. But we aren’t there yet – here’s how we handled our 26th:

Boxing Day

This is a British holiday which crept onto Canadian calendars and never left, even when we formally excused ourselves from the Empire. In the olden days, servants would be permitted to go visit their families and collect their tokens of thanks from their employers on this day, having had to serve their master-folk throughout Christmas. So the history of Boxing Day is that it was Christmas for the poor, in a way. They’d receive a ‘Christmas Box’, and dammit, they’d better be grateful for it.

In the newer days, meaning the entirety of my lifetime, Boxing Day has been a day of shopping. Boxing Day sales have turned into Boxing Week sales, and the day tends to eclipse Black Friday in terms of being the primary deal-hunting day of the year. I’ve worked Boxing Day in retail. At the computer store where I worked in the late 90s, it meant waking up before 6:00am on the day after Christmas merriment to stand in a store and watch people fight over discounted inkjet printers. When I worked at Radio Shack at our big ol’ mall in ’96, someone was literally stabbed to death just outside my store. What a fun day.

I expect photos will surface online of the Boxing Day crowds at the mall yesterday, but we were not among them. We adhered to our own Boxing Day ritual, which involves staying inside and enjoying our new presents in relative quiet. We read, we watched some football, we played some games, and we ate a tremendous feast (pictured above). It was exactly what Boxing Day should be.

National Thank-You Note Day

It’s a fine day to thank the folks who took the time and effort to brighten our Christmases with gifts. Our son got me a free six months of watching the Criterion Channel streaming service, something I had to give up when this project took over all my free time. The subscription begins on January 1, so that’s perfect. Others who gifted us with a lovely Xmas haul also received a note of thanks yesterday.

Everyone else who gave me a gift happened to be in our house yesterday, so they received their thanks in person. I can only write so many notes in a single day, especially when I have to report on all of it to you people.

The only thank-you note I couldn’t send was to my Reddit Secret Santa, a fun worldwide program in which I’ve participated for the last six years. I still haven’t received that gift yet. But I have faith it’s coming.

A thank-you note is a must in this era when we can accomplish the feat by punching at the screens of our phones for a few seconds. Make sure you let the folks who hooked you up with goodies yesterday know that you appreciate it.

National Whiners Day

This day was surprisingly concocted by a Reverend Kevin Zaborney back in 1986. The notion in Rev. Kev’s head was that we’d whine today, then realize that we should be thankful for what we have and appreciate our shit. And our people. This seems like a roundabout way to steering us toward yet another love-your-groovy-life type celebration. Why start with whining? Why not simply end with whining and let the 26th be a kvetch-fest for all?

The rules for this day are that you are not allowed to whine about what you did or did not get for Christmas, nor are you allowed to whine about what you do not possess. And you are also supposed to remember what you do have. Okay, sure.

It’s not fair that I still live in a place where winter exists for at least half the year. I hate the fact that Rosa, our #2 canine research assistant, has flatulence that evokes memories of demon-harvested sour eggs. And why must my coffee maker shut down automatically after two hours? Sometimes I drink slowly, dammit!

Okay, that’s enough whining for one day. I was in too chipper a mood to get up to any more whining than that yesterday. After all, I am grateful what I have. I was before Rev. Kev told me to be. I’ll credit this project for steering me in that direction on practically a weekly basis.

National Candy Cane Day

The history I choose to believe (it’s classified as folklore, but I have no problem declaring it to be empirical, factual history) is that a choirmaster in Cologne Germany decided he wanted to reward his kids for hitting the right notes by having some candy sticks made up for them. Because this was 1670, and sugary indulgence in church was frowned upon, he requested the candy maker add a crook to the sticks, so that they would invoke the shepherd-Jesus notion. Because kids often think about deep religious symbolism as they devour sweets, right?

The first recorded recipe for peppermint candy sticks shows up in 1844, so I suppose we can begrudgingly conclude that the story above is indeed folklore and not an actual recorded event. By 1920 confectioners had come up with machines to make candy canes, so at that point the treat was indelibly linked to the Christmas season forever.

And why shouldn’t they be? Candy canes are wonderful. We enjoyed a couple of mini-canes we had on hand yesterday, but I opted to post a photo from our last doughnut run, which was a week earlier. That’s the candy cane doughnut, and it was every bit as sumptuous as it looks. Tragically, our doughnut shop had closed up for the holiday, and won’t reopen until Tuesday. But that thing looks so much tastier than our little canes. It deserves the spotlight.

The final Sunday of our year, and the penultimate Sunday of the football season. How much will we really want to get up to? Here are our choices:

  • National Fruitcake Day. Nope. We bought one back in January to throw into the river valley for National Fruitcake Toss Day, but unless someone gifts us with a delicious home-baked cake today, we’ll pass.
  • Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day. A craft project? Not our forte.
  • Visit The Zoo Day. Our zoo is closed. Actually, it’s blasting out a terrific-looking light show right now, for which we could not secure tickets weeks ago. Cool.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

A big ho, ho, ho to everyone, and a joyous party, however you wish to rock ‘n boogie today. Yesterday was the big one, I suppose – the day that everyone knows about, and pretty much everyone finds a way to honour. We did not stack up the events – in fact, we even bumped our Christmas dinner to today. Throwing together one extensive feast in a day is enough. We wanted (and scored) a nap. We had other (more interesting) things to do. In addition, we had candy and games to keep us occupied. Here’s how we spent the coveted 25th of December:


No shit! We woke up and said a big, happy hi to our team baker (hey, ma!), who joined us after a dozen days of hiding out, making sure Abbey was not infested with that nefarious virus. She had requested to have more presents under the tree than any other member of the crew, and we were happy to assist with that. She has, as I’m sure you know if you’ve been tracking this madness, been a huge support in this bizarre project throughout 2020. She deserved each of those gifts – I’m quite positive we’d have been doomed without her.

Everyone was happy with their goodies this year. Jodie snagged a book rack shaped in the same manner as a New York City tenement’s fire escape. She received over a dozen framed pics of our amazing dog-beasts too. I scored a bunch of kitchen stuff, which I intend to put to good, consistent use over the upcoming year. Our amazing son got me a six-month subscription to the Criterion streaming service, so I intend to spend a great big chunk of 2021 catching up on some vintage and foreign cinema gems too. I can’t wait.

After our nap and the chicken parm we opted to cook instead of our prime rib roast dinner, we hopped into the car and headed down to take a drive through the shimmering vista of shiny magic in our city. It wasn’t cheap (forty bucks for the car) for one exhibit, but it was something to do with our puppies, and which kept us distanced from any infested dudes or dudettes in our city. Afterwards, we scooted about town in the darkened hours, checking out the street renamed to Candy Cane for this time of year. We finished off in front of a house with a fantastic music-synched show. Trixie watched with rapt attention. I think we captivated our dogs by exposing them to this shimmering magic. They adored every second of it. It was a genuine treat to finish off an otherwise near-perfect Christmas day.

It was near-perfect, just because our son and his significant other were not here with us. We had a great Zoom chat as we opened our gifts, but it wasn’t quite the same. Next year, when things are a bit more sane upon the Earth, we can gather together and do it right.


There is another word for this bizarre event, and it’s the same as the French word for Christmas. It kind of rhymes with Superman’s dad’s name. I can’t say the French word here, because the theme for this weird piece of mirth is that one must avoid that certain keyboard character. If you scan through this entire entry, you won’t see that character which rests between the ‘K’ and the ‘;’ on one’s keyboard. I have avoided using it, and intend to continue to avoid hitting that key right through the end of writing this piece.

There is a degree of difficu… sorry, a degree of adversity in achieving this feat. I have to choose my words with care and consideration, and avoid using any adverbs. I have but two entries in this day’s event roster, so I sensed it was the right time to crank up the strenuousness of the writing process, just a bit. In my previous writing project, which you can spend a few days pouring through here, I penned a thousand words without using even one ‘E’. That was much more vexing, I can promise you. I wasn’t up for that kind of hardship. I’m getting too… aged for that shit.

But it was fun. This is fun every day, even when it’s not.

Today we begin to witness whatever remains to cram into a year of constant merriment. We are running out of days, but not out of crap with which to stuff into those days. Here’s today’s menu:

  • Boxing Day. We shan’t be shopping. I hate shopping on Boxing Day, and I’m not taking a risk to see how busy and cramped the nearby stores are. There’s a virus out there, remember?
  • N——- Candy Cane Day. You know what that first word is. So do I. But I can’t use the character that ends the word, so just imagine the entire word is there. Anyhow, yes, we intend to eat these.
  • N——- Thank-You Note Day. I suppose we ought to pen a note or two for those who have made this season groovy for us.
  • N——- Whiners Day. This is a custom-made piece of perfection. We can take part in this one, no question.
  • Kwanzaa. We had hoped to participate in some event of some kind, as we know next to nothing about the traditions tied to this event. But it’s Covid, yadda, yadda, yadda. Happy Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 25, 2020

A happy and hopeful Christmas to everyone out there who still occasionally clicks on my links and drops in to see what the hell we’re up to. The answer for yesterday (and today) is “not much”. It’s not only that we’re deep into denouement country in this project, but the calendar is not supplying us with a big heap of potential celebrations. No one was looking down at their breakfast this late in December and thinking, “Hey, why not make today National Honey Nut Cheerios Day?”. This is a sacred time for Christian folk, but in a far more inclusive way, this is a sacred time for families. Even via Zoom. So we grabbed hold of our scraps and fashioned with them what we could:

Christmas Eve

Every family has its own version of a Christmas Eve tradition. Some households gather en masse and splatter their dining room tables with a multi-course feast on the 24th, leaving the 25th for resting and taking one last stab at watching those same predictable movies or listening to that crappy infernal music. Our family traditions mainly involved the 25th for the big festivities.

I’m going to hold off on repeating ad nauseum that this year is different. We all know this year is different. Please, people, celebrate this year differently.

Our family Christmas Eve traditions involve ordering in dinner, cracking open one present (the Christmas pajamas), and watching Die Hard and/or another holiday classic. Last year we decided to put a pin in John McClane’s Nakatomi adventures, as the 2018 screening in our home consisted of all of us on our phones, too bored to even make fun of the movie anymore. So last night it was the Frank Capra classic It’s A Wonderful Life, which also gets airplay at some point in every one of our Christmases.

And yes, we spent much of it on our phones, because there are games to play there and we’ve all seen Clarence get his wings dozens of times in our lives. See my rant from a couple days ago during Humbug Day to understand how I feel about this.

But it was still a great time, with three humans and three dogs all chilled and comfy in front of the TV. And wouldn’t you know it, Mr. McClane was on TV when we finished so we enjoyed a few minutes of that classic. Next year will hopefully involve more humans (and the same number of dogs), and maybe we’ll toast that with another full airing of Die Hard. Whatever happens, we’ll make it feel like Christmas somehow.

National Eggnog Day

Full disclosure: we did not drink any eggnog yesterday. That would have been the ideal way to celebrate this day – and indeed, I strongly considered just leaving this one off the list entirely – but there was no need. Jodie hates eggnog. Abbey doesn’t care for the stuff. I’ll enjoy one glass (two if it’s the kind with booze), then I won’t want another drop for at least a year. Buying a carton of it made no sense.

But I’m curious enough about the creation of eggnog to do a bit of research, and doing a bit of research counts as a celebration this year. I’d be intrigued to try a cup of ponche crema, a Venezuelan variant of nog. This stuff has rum (which explains my intrigue), and used to be heated up and given to children to help them fight a cold. As a devotee of the hot rum toddy whenever a cold strikes me down, I have to say I approve.

The Oxford English Dictionary claims that nog used to refer to a strong beer. The term likely originates with the wooden cup in which the stuff was served, known as a noggin. It’s believed that the term ‘eggnog’ comes from America right around the birth of the country. No doubt its recipe has morphed a lot since then. The Brits were creating a similar drink using sherry or brandy, but rum was easier to come by (and not taxed by the Brits) in the western hemisphere.

Last night I enjoyed a glass of rum, and my tongue felt perfectly satisfied that it would have to wait another year to taste carton-sourced eggnog.

National Regifting Day

Yes. We have regifted. Even this year, we took something that was brought to us earlier in the year as a gift – something for which we had no use – and regifted it to someone in hopes they would enjoy it more. I won’t get into what it was (it was wine), or to whom we regifted (don’t worry, it wasn’t you), but it was done. And we feel no shame. It’s booze we aren’t particularly fond of but many people are. Nothing wrong with that.

Or maybe there is. Maybe the fact that we didn’t head out and spend our own money on this gift was an act of selfish skinflintery. Given that the recipient could not possibly know we didn’t buy the gift last week, and given that it’s a perfectly good quality unused product, I think we should get a pass. After all, it’s not like we Kebbi’ed the thing.

I have ranted about this elsewhere before, but I’m going to explain. 23 years ago I participated in a Secret Santa exchange at my place of work, a retail computer store that no longer exists in this city. Mr. Kebbi (I won’t mention his first name for legal reasons) was the person to whom I was supposed to give gifts. I gave a smattering of small things in the days leading up to the big exchange, and for the final large gift I gave a platter of home-baked goodies, each of which was crafted by my lovely wife.

I was admittedly a bit irked that I hadn’t received any small presents in the days leading up to the big one, but I hoped that final present would redeem the season. At the end of that shift I received the exact same platter of goodies I had given to Mr. Kebbi. He had drawn my name, and not really knowing me had decided to forego actually participating in the Secret Santa experience. Fortunately I was able to advise everyone in the store what happened, thus providing him with a decidedly humiliating reputation.

Regifting sucks. Unless you do it with unopened booze, and you can justify it in a few paragraphs in an online blog the recipient will probably never read.

Read A New Book Month

Jodie has motored her way through dozens of books throughout the year. Thanks to this project, and to my preference for watching films and playing games as a pastime, I have not. Yesterday I decided to crack one that Jodie had recommended for me, and to see if I could hammer through it in the remaining days of December.

I have time now. This project is getting quieter, I’m off work until January, and there are no holiday obligations now that shopping, wrapping and baking are done, and the only other family we’ll be seeing this week is my mom, who will be coming by here to join us in a meal we were going to eat anyway. Now is the time to dive in and read, I guess. At least until I remember that three of the games on my Steam wishlist are on sale, and dammit I’m treating myself.

Happy holiday, whichever ones you are celebrating.

What day is this? Why, it’s Christmas Day, Mr. Scrooge. And what else? Well, this is all the calendar has for us:

  • Christmas. Obviously we will celebrate this one. Actually, we’ll celebrate it with a massive feast and a drive through some pretty cool lights.
  • National Pumpkin Pie Day. I already celebrated this once. I remember, because I celebrated it with a doughnut.
  • A’phabet. This is a day for avoiding the letter ‘L’. No-L. Noel. Ha!
  • Takanakuy. A Peruvian celebration in which people fight one another to settle their differences. Sounds like it fits the day perfectly.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

We crept out of bed yesterday at the crack of noonish, ready to face a day that involved so many chores: Jodie had to pick up some bacon for Christmas morning, and I had to… walk the dogs, I guess. That’s about it. I also talked Jodie into baking one more batch of medicinal cookies for the year. We had heaps of time for celebrations, or – ideally – not celebrations. For sitting back and contemplating the silent sublime while we played video games or watched TV. This is chorin’ in a time of vacation, people. It’s going to feel a little weird. And I’m okay with that. Here’s what occupied our limited attention yesterday:


While we had no aluminum pole to mount, we certainly indulged in some feats of strength, as pictured above. We limited our wrasslin’ to human-vs-dog action, as we had no desire to meet one another in combat. We still have to be holed up in the same house with each other for another ten days, so it wouldn’t be prudent to unleash hostilities and leave open the door to vengeance. National Vengeance Day isn’t a thing, or if it is, I don’t believe it shows up within the next week or so.

Then there’s the airing of grievances. Oh boy did we have a few of those. Most were directed toward the people who have actively campaigned to make this year worse for everyone – Republicans, anti-maskers, the idiot executive at the W Network who felt it sensible to completely edit out the Martin Freeman story from their prime time airing of Love Actually, and so on. And of course we had a snarl or two for the virus that has kicked this world on its ass and messed things up for everyone.

But the people who most deserve our grieve-ish ire this year are those who have continued to gather and party, denying that Covid is a threat, likely because they don’t believe they would die from it, so who cares? Thanks to those folks, who march in a ‘freedom’ rally every weekend in our little town, we are spending the holidays without our son, with my mother nervous to leave the house just to see us, and with my aunt in the hospital, deprived of any family to come and visit her. I’m sure most of you survived, but if I did have an aluminum pole on hand, I’d gladly use it to smack you around the head and neck. Selfish pricks.

And that, folks, is the true spirit of Festivus. Created back in the 60s by author Daniel O’Keefe, Festivus is a day geared toward those who don’t want to buy in to the Christmas trappings. Originally it was held on the anniversary of Dan and his wife, Jeanette. Over 30 years later, Dan’s son (also Dan) pitched the idea as a story for George Costanza’s family on Seinfeld, where he was working as a writer. The episode, The Strike, was a huge hit, and Festivus is still mentioned widely on social media every year on the 23rd. It’s likely this anti-holiday will outlive almost every other non-traditional celebration we’ve honoured this year, and that’s pretty impressive. Finally, something that will last. For the rest of us.

National Roots Day

We have already combed through our family histories earlier this year, so setting this up as a rerun didn’t hold a lot of interest yesterday. After all, there was a nap to be had, and it wasn’t going to sleep itself. But it’s good to look back and contemplate a few of the brighter points from our lineage:

  • My great-grandmother was a professional tea-leaf reader at a café on our city’s main drag back in the day.
  • Jodie is descended from a legitimate slave who escaped via the underground railroad.
  • My grandfather once sold guns to the New York Yankees in their early-Depression-era prime.
  • Jodie’s grandmother worked as a waitress in a westernized Chinese restaurant into her eighties, simply because she loved the work.

To make this into a celebration, we had to learn something new. We asked Jodie’s mother for some new interesting piece of information. Having been adopted as a baby, she didn’t know much about her biological roots. Last year she obtained one of those 23-and-Me kits, and looked into her history. Weirdly enough, she learned that her birth mother had passed away just two months before she received the kit. How’s that for a cruel chuckle of fate? She also met numerous siblings though, so in the end it was a big win for her.

I asked my mother about my Uncle George, about whom I don’t know much (except that the man and his wife knew how to pack away the Christmas booze at my childhood Christmases). It turns out he worked for Edmonton Power. Neat.

It’s always good to learn a little something about oneself. Maybe my next project will involve hunting through my past for some cool stories. Or maybe I’ll just get back to that nap.

Tibb’s Eve

Tibb, for those who aren’t hip and in tune with 17th century English theatre history, was a character who popped up in multiple plays, usually as a loose-moraled woman intended for comic relief. Modern Tibbs would include Blanche on Golden Girls or the character portrayed by Jackée on 227 (bonus points for anyone who gets that dated reference). The term ‘Tibb’s Eve’ referred to a date in the future that would never actually happen. “I’ll pay you back on Tibb’s Eve” means you’ll never see a dime.

But how does one celebrate that? A day that never happens? Fortunately, the Newfies come to the rescue on this one.

At some point around the second world war, people living along the south coast of Newfoundland decided to designate December 23rd as Tibb’s Eve. Also, Tip’s Eve, and Tipsy Eve. The idea is that advent – a time of year that I always thought of as the period in which one counts down to Christmas by using waxy drug-store chocolates hidden behind tiny cardboard walls – is a time of sobriety and devoutness. Tibb’s Eve is celebrated by partying and drinking for just this one day, this close to the end of the advent period.

Americans probably don’t understand the relationship between Newfoundland and the rest of Canada. They have no equivalent. New Jersey is a frequent punchline (at least for New Yorkers), Florida Man is a celebration of bath-salts-snarfing criminal weirdos, and there are plenty of jokes that can be made at the expense of the residents of the deep south. But Newfoundland isn’t any of those. Newfies are our goofy partiers, the coiners of the most bizarre expressions in the lexicon. From my experience, we don’t resent or revile the Newfies – they add a splash of astounding flavour to our culture.

And for Tibb’s Eve, a celebration we can observe simply by cracking a drink or six, we are grateful.

Night Of The Radishes

Radishes are originally from China. At some point in the grotesque and often violent colonization of Mexico, the Spanish friars brought them over and introduced them to Mexican cuisine. When the friars still ran the show down there, it became fashionable to grab some particularly large radishes and carve religious iconography into them to display around Christmas. Weird? When you consider the bizarre traditions we have combed through this year, it’s pretty much normal, really.

In 1897, the mayor of Oaxaca proclaimed a radish-carving contest. That has continued every year since, and it still went down last night, albeit virtually. These folks are carving radishes that are larger than any I have seen at any store or in any restaurant around here. They are also carving with actual skill, something that I do not possess. Perhaps I should have practiced on a few.

Last night we dropped the religious iconography notion and simply carved a radish face apiece. It was a weird way to pass the time, but we aren’t getting out of this year without a few more bizarre indulgences. As is tradition, since the radishes don’t hold up for long after being carved, they will be tossed out later today. Or maybe we’ll keep them around and display them as long as possible, just to see what happens to a carved radish over time. It’s not like I’ve ever looked into that before. Actually, the dogs already ate one of them, so maybe this is simply a completed experiment.

From feats of strength to radish carving, yesterday was an unusual one. And I still got my nap.

I’m sure most folks are celebrating something today. Here’s what’s on the menu, in case you’re looking for something to fill the void without your extended family visiting:

  • Christmas Eve. Well, obviously. We will celebrate this relatively traditionally (for us), with new pajamas and a classic piece of cinema.
  • National Eggnog Day. A beverage no one but me enjoys. Do we drop money down on the stuff anyway?
  • Last Minute Shoppers Day. We can stretch and relax throughout the last minute. We were prepared this year.
  • National Regifting Day. Another Seinfeld reference? Cool. We have regifted in the past. We’ll admit it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Well ho, ho, and nearly ho then – Christmas is looming like a Universal movie monster, albeit shrouded in grainy half-light this year. We have already celebrated more than two thousand other things so far in 2020, so making a big deal over the anniversary of Santa’s bar mitzvah (or whatever – I haven’t yet done my research into the Christmas story) doesn’t seem quite as important. But it is. This is when families usually gather in masses, toast with various forms of intoxicating cheer in the glasses, and occasionally smooch, punch or drink one another onto their asses. And this year it’s profoundly different. But we will endure, and embrace the knowledge that this is a one-time glitch in our lifetimes of Christmases. Besides, look at all the other fun shit happening during Christmas week:

National Cookie Exchange Day

A cookie exchange, as we all know, comes under the Oakley protocol, which is a protocol of key management. Now that I think of it, Wikipedia may be letting me down on this one. I’m pretty sure this cookie exchange page is a computer thing, and not a baked goods thing.

That’s okay – we all know what a cookie exchange is, right? Everyone bakes up a batch of whatever, then in a grand get-together which features rigorous sampling, everyone goes home with an assortment of everything after only having had to bake up one type. It’s a great idea, and it makes absolutely no sense in the time of Covid. No one is getting together, and if they are, we are supposed to call the police, apparently. I won’t be calling any police if my neighbours get together this holiday season, and I won’t even scowl at them from a distance if it happens to be a cookie exchange and they float me a few freebies.

Because there was no exchanging of baked goods for us yesterday, Abbey and I took a more straightforward approach to this celebration. We each picked a cookie from our selection of baked goods (which grew in number once again yesterday), and exchanged them with one another. Technically, this counts. Technically is good enough in 2020, as we have established already. Besides, why complain when the end result is eating cookies?

National Flashlight Day

Technically the birthday of the flashlight is (maybe) January 10. It was in 1899 when David Misell filed a patent for the thing, which used dry cell batteries, invented only 12 years earlier. Maybe there were flashlights before that, but it doesn’t really matter – it wasn’t until the invention of the tungsten-filament lights we know and love (1904) when flashlights became a must-have tool.

So why celebrate them yesterday? Technically we simply bumped this one from a day earlier – National Flashlight Day is meant to land on the year’s longest night. This is, after all, the biggest chunk of time in which someone might wish to use a flashlight.

I’d love to spiral into an interesting flashlight anecdote from my past, but I really don’t have one. I have used one to read under the covers, to lightsaber duel with a friend at a sleepover, and to find stuff when the power goes out. Like pretty much everyone else. We celebrated the day by using a flashlight for a few moments, which was more than we’d actually needed to use a flashlight yesterday.

Still, we’re glad we have it.

National Look At The Bright Side Day

Okay, I’ll do one more of these, and that’s it. Of all the celebrations (seriously – over 2,000?) in which we have indulged this fanciful and oft-frightening year, this is by far the most common recurring motif of the bunch. Things are good. Appreciate the good. It’s good to be good. Power of positive yadda yadda and all that.

And we have celebrated these well. We have watched the world spiral through an utterly ridiculous year that will one day get its own set of shelves in reputable libraries everywhere. Doom and gloom and the same ol’ room have dominated conversations, and every other day we see an article or two about society’s crumbling state of mental well-being. Well, speaking on behalf of those of us whose mental well-being was crumbling long before 2020 came along to shake things up, we will get through it.

And one of the best ways to get through it is to look at the bright side from time to time. We have skipped over a handful of these, but I’ve found the ones we’ve tackled to be a welcome pause in the crap-packed deluge of 2020. There is always a bright side. Even when it’s fifty to sixty times tinier than the crappy side.

So we’ll indulge once more. The bright side of this lost Christmas is that it’s the only one. Down the road we can all reflect on things with thoughts like, “Hey, at least it isn’t 2020.” Another bright side of this year is that we all went through it together. Putting aside numbskulls who still don’t believe there’s a pandemic or who feel American democracy is worth sacrificing so that the rich guy doesn’t have to go back to his golden toilet, we have all endured a shared cultural experience that will shape our collective understanding. In ten years there will be a generation of young people who won’t get any of the references to this year, or life before it. That will be weird. And we old folk will be even more firmly united.

I encourage everyone to look around you and find the bright side of this mess. It’s there. You just might have to dig. And dig. And dig.

Be A Lover Of Silence Day


I am. No question. As much as music provides the billows to the flame of my being, silence is just as necessary for survival. Sometimes it’s the silence within the music that moves me. Sometimes it’s the pure, uninterrupted bliss of utter peace.

I don’t get a lot of silence in my life. At work there is always a dull hum of monotonous blather in the distance. Even working from home, if I don’t have music playing I usually have the serenade of my fingers tip-tapping on the keyboard to fill my earholes. At night, with three dogs on our bed (two of whom are flat-nosed perpetually-snoring bulldogs), I am ensconced in white noise, not true silence. So when I get the opportunity to savour it, I like to savour it.

Yesterday I took a few quiet moments while writing to pull my hands back and just listen to nothing. The dogs were even courteously downstairs, allowing me the closest to absolute quiet I can achieve without leaving the house and hiding somewhere. Colton, our absentee (not by choice) son, has told me about the wonders of a sensory deprivation tank – a true immersion in absolute silence of the senses. But I never got a chance to try one out before Covid hit and all those places have shut down for now. Perhaps that’s a goal for 2021: to achieve that true complete silence and to swim in it.

Until then, I’ll deal with the snores.

National Short Person Day

Yesterday I took a few moments to spew out some loving words for my lovely wife, who fits the definition of a short girl perfectly, by being both short and a girl. Today is Short Person Day – note the word ‘appreciation’ is not in there anywhere – and I don’t feel it’s right to simply repeat the thing I did literally one day ago.

So instead I’ll contemplate my own shortness. At 5’9” I’m not exactly living in fear that I’ll be barred from riding any roller coasters due to my stature. But I’m also keenly aware that I never rose to my dad’s 5’11”. I’m also aware that my height is ‘average’, but average means there will always be shelves in my home that are tricky for me to reach without standing on something. It means I probably won’t be obstructing many views in a crowd situation, but I also have a strong possibility someone will be obstructing mine. Not that a crowd situation is likely for the next few months, but still.

Randy Newman famously penned a song that claims that short people have no reason to live. He reportedly hated that people took that song seriously, when it was clearly meant to be a satirical look at the arbitrary and fickle nature of prejudice. People don’t get nuance, that’s the lesson here.

I am fine with my averageness, and Jodie rarely bemoans her legitimate shortness. There are plenty of other things to complain about in this world – though even then, we need to keep Look on the Bright Side Day in our minds – and being short is easily conquerable with chairs, stepladders and high heels.

Rock on, little folk.

National Hamburger Day

We celebrated this day back in May, as I’m sure you recall. Why wouldn’t you recall that, fictional person to whom I’m addressing this paragraph? Were you not paying attention? Should you go back and re-read everything I wrote until you understand? Christ, even I don’t plan on rereading all this.

We have celebrated hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon double cheeseburgers this year. I have poured through the history of the burger and dissected its importance in western culture several times. Yesterday, which is acknowledged as the second National Hamburger Day of the year, seems to have no special significance, date-wise. So we simply made some burgers and ate them.

Some of these are just too easy.

Today is the ultimate last-minute day for folks who still need to shop, wrap, and deliver gifts. We are fortunate to be done with all that, so we’ll have plenty of time for this:

  • National Pfeffernusse Day. This is some sort of complicated German cookie. We are plenty full of cookies at the moment.
  • National Roots Day. A day for looking into our family history, which we have already done this year. Maybe we just listen to the band?
  • Night of the Radishes. It’s a day for carving radishes, which apparently is a big deal in Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • Tibb’s Eve. This is a Newfoundland tradition, which automatically tells me it’s probably a blast to celebrate. Sure enough, it’s a day during the period of advent in which it’s groovy to crack a few and drink up. Nice.
  • Festivus. I look forward to challenging Liberty, our beloved golden retriever, to some feats of strength.