Tuesday, February 18, 2020

We are less than two weeks from March, which means we can start enjoying outdoor celebrations as winter prepares to shut its gaping maw. Eventually. Probably not in March – this is Edmonton, after all. But soon.

Random Acts of Kindness Day

We looked forward to this day as an opportunity to aim our revelry outward, and deliver a grin to someone’s faces other than our own. The one random act of kindness I’ve always wanted to pull off was the drive-thru trick, where you pay for the person behind you in line. We were unable to fulfill that one yesterday, as we opted not to leave the house. This is Random Acts of Kindness Week, however, so we’ll get to it.

Instead I ventured out into the -28 weather and shoveled. To be fair, our neighbour across the street had already random-act-of-kindnessed us by using his leaf-blower to clear our sidewalk and the front half of our driveway of fresh snow. So after finishing my property, I turned left and went one house further. Our neighbours to the west have generously run their snowblower along our front walk in the past, and they have been exquisite neighbours in every other way, so aiming my shovel at their pavement was a rewarding act.

If you’re looking for a way to spread some greatness this week, head to randomactsofkindness.org, which is filled with ideas, lesson plans, activities, and a trove of outwardly positive notions you can spread around your corner of the planet.

This trend began in New Zealand, and it began where so many brilliant ideas are born: in rush-hour traffic. Josh de Jong was sitting in his car on a packed road in Auckland, watching a blast of road rage a few cars ahead. He mused how interesting it might be if everyone in New Zealand was kind to a stranger for just one day. Josh and his friends made it happen, and in New Zealand they celebrate this day on September 1, as it coincides with the rebirth of spring in the southern hemisphere. Up here the day (and week) shows up in the dark of winter, though it’s a sentiment that makes sense all year round.

Family Day

In Canada, many of us grew up with no official holiday between New Year’s Day and Easter. That’s potentially three and a half months of 5-day weeks, while below the border they got to rest on Presidents’ Day (which used to be two holidays) and MLK Jr. Day. Finally, in 1990 Alberta’s premier (Don Getty at the time) declared Family Day to be an official holiday on the third Monday in February. I won’t say much about his politics (I honestly don’t know – I was 15 and didn’t care), but for this gesture I am extremely grateful.

Saskatchewan didn’t get Family Day until 2006. Ontario got it in 2007, but employers get the option to disregard this one in favour of the August long weekend, or vice-versa. BC tried to implement Family Day in 1994, but it failed. They had to wait until 2013. New Brunswick is celebrating only its third Family Day. Manitoba gets Louis Riel Day, PEI gets Islander Day and there’s also Nova Scotia Heritage Day. Folks in Quebec, Newfoundland & Labrador, and up north just went to work yesterday.

We have been gifted with an extra member of our family this week, so Family Day was spent relaxing at home, surrounded by dogs and people for whom we’d take a bullet. It was a perfect little add-on to the weekend.

National Cabbage Day

I’ll be honest, I don’t really see the appeal in cabbage. Europeans have been chomping on the stuff for more than 1000 years, so clearly this is merely a deficiency in my own tastes. I’ll enjoy the stuff in slaw, devour it when it’s rolled around stuff and coated in sauce, and in the right salad it can add a bit of character. But mostly cabbage is a chore, at least to me.

Why are the healthiest foods so often the ones with questionable effects on the taste buds? Cabbage is one of the greatest sources of vitamin C and vitamin K, so it’s good for your blood and bones. You’ve got some B6 and folate in there, but not much else. Now the down-side: cabbage can carry listeria. Two American outbreaks of E. coli have been linked to cabbage. Those little leaf-balls are prone to contamination at numerous junctions before it hits your plate, so if you’re eating it raw, you’re taking a risk. Then there’s the farts. Cabbage will give you the farts.

So is it worth it? Unfortunately, it probably is. Your odds of catching any sort of illness from devouring cabbage are ridiculously slim, while the nutritional benefits are guaranteed. We enjoyed some brussels sprouts last night – nature’s shrunken cabbage, probably by lasers – and celebrated the cabbage for the good it spreads. Not for the damn farts.

National Café au Lait Day

Some coffee with some hot milk. It’s as simple a celebration as one could ask for, and that was just perfect for a quiet, lazy morning. Jodie is a big fan of the café au lait, or the latte, which is the same thing but using an espresso base instead of hot coffee. The café au lait is, of course, a European tradition, showing up under numerous appellations, including Milchkaffee in Poland (“milk coffee”), café com leite in Portugal and Brazil (“coffee with milk”) and koffie verkeerd in the Netherlands (“incorrect coffee” – I guess the Dutch have some strict coffee rules).

The real treat is downing one of these from a cup so massive it’s basically a bowl. We’ll be doing that for brunch on Friday, so this party can just keep on rocking.

Through With Chew Week

We here at Celebrate366 Industries are not seasoned tobacco chewers. Half of us have never tried the stuff (and had to perform dental work on people whose mouths have been ravaged by the effects of chew), and the other half sampled it, but didn’t get the appeal. I mean, at least with a cigarette or a cigar you could look cool, but with chewing tobacco you’d be in a constant state of needing to spit. I mean… why?

So, courtesy of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Inc., we’ve had Through With Chew Week since 1989. Look, I understand the tobacco addiction. As the drug depletes in your blood you get a craving. A fix will get rid of that craving, thus providing the illusion of lowering anxiety (since it caused the anxiety to begin with). It’s a hard cycle to break; it took me several tries. But chewing it… just stop. It’s grotesque, it’s cumbersome, and it looks hillbilly chic at best.

Need more reasons to quit? It’s linked to cancer and pregnancy issues, of course. Cigarettes will do all that as well. But with chewing tobacco you can add tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, and the formation of these gross little gray patches in your mouth that will eventually lead to cancer. Here’s a weird stat: in the US, 3.8% of adults are users of smokeless tobacco. That works out to 6.8% of men and 1% of women in the country. Who knew?

We don’t like to be all finger-pointy and prescriptive on this site, because that’s hardly an act of celebration. But we’ve learned already that some celebrations are commemorations, and this week we’d like to commemorate everyone who has broken their addiction to chewing tobacco. Good work. You also look cooler now.

Back at work, with a joyously easy little day:

  • National Crab Stuffed Flounder Day. Ha – Abbey (our visiting daughter) hates seafood. We couldn’t find flounder in extremely land-locked Edmonton, but we will come close.
  • National Battery Day. Do we check our batteries around the house, or go commit assault? Tune in to find out!
  • National Drink Wine Day. An easy task to obey.
  • Thumb Appreciation Day. Of course it is.

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