Friday, December 18, 2020

Today we roll into our final day in which we have to balance work and celebrations. In theory, this would mean we will be celebrating all day, every day, from here through the end of the year. But we have missed out on a lot of afternoon naps over the last few months, so that will have to be factored in. Also, the calendar is offering painfully little to celebrate at the moment. No one thought to cram International Papaya Day into December, likely because people are too darn busy to celebrate random fruits right now. That means shorter articles, fewer responsibilities, and longer naps. That’s a big ol’ thumbs-up from us. Yesterday is a prime example of the dearth of ongoing celebrations this month. Here’s what we tapped into:

National Maple Syrup Day

Hah! “Here’s what we tapped into”, and it’s maple syrup. I think this mildly unpleasant wordplay should count as a proper celebration for this day. No? Do I have to consume some maple syrup? Well fine then.

The process for bringing maple syrup into the world is as simple as extracting it from a sugar maple, red maple or black maple tree. Most trees will ooze out five to fifteen gallons of the stuff in a year, so those forests of maple trees being farmed around the nation are stocking the world’s supply. I’m not exaggerating; Quebec alone is responsible for producing 70% of the world’s stash of maple syrup. It’s not just a Canadian cliché – this is truly our gift to the planet.

Indigenous people were the first to discover the magic of the maple, and in the early days of colonization, they’d occasionally swap out maple sugar or syrup for salt in European dishes. If you’re looking to start up your own maple syrup company with some fresh trees, be warned that maples have to be about 30-40 years old before they’ll give up the sticky goo.

Despite all the national pride, a number of Canadians – two of whom currently live in this house – prefer ‘corporate’ syrup on their pancakes. Jodie and Abbey will both grab the butter-flavoured Aunt Jemima, and will likely continue to lean toward that product when it eventually receives a new name. I still opt for the genuine maple because you just can’t beat that flavour.

We had pancakes on Tuesday night for dinner (my thinking ahead has really slipped as the months have scurried by), and of course I did not take a photo. Instead, I simply took a shot of maple yesterday to celebrate. It was sweet and satisfying, and hopefully will not become a habit.

Wright Brothers Day

Yesterday marked the 117th anniversary of flight, when Orville and Wilbur Wright launched their rickety little plane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, forever changing the way humans would consume tiny bags of over-salted peanuts. The only logical ways to celebrate this day would be to design, build and test our own plane, or even to venture on a plane to enjoy a relaxing vacation somewhere.

Since neither of those will be happening any time soon, our next best option would be to learn a little something about Orv and Wil. We know they owned a bike shop, but what else do we know about those guys?

As a teenager, Wilbur had his front teeth knocked out by a hockey stick. This wound up a substantial blow to his mental health, as he went from outgoing and Yale-bound to a stay-at-home recluse. Their sister, Katharine, was more outgoing than either of the brothers, and when they took their technology to Europe, she was the schmoozer who helped to show it off. She and Orville also marched for women’s suffrage in Ohio. If a bio-pic is made of these brothers, it almost sounds like Katharine should be featured just as prominently.

On September 17, 1909, Orville was demonstrating their Flyer to the US Army, when a propeller broke and they crashed. Riding along with Orville was Lt. Thomas Selfridge, who earned the dubious honour of being the first aircraft fatality. Neither brother ever married. I suppose that is the sacrifice of creating such a pivotal piece of technology. Wilbur apparently ate some bad shellfish in 1912, which led to his premature death at the age of 45. Orville sold the family company to Glenn A. Martin in 1915, creating the Wright-Martin company. This would eventually evolve to be Lockheed-Martin, which still creates planes and missiles and various other flying things.

Orville wound up hooking up with NACA, the predecessor to NASA. He served with that organization for 28 years. He passed away in 1948 after a heart attack, and it should be noted that he was quite saddened by the fact that his life’s work had been used to kill thousands upon thousands during the two wars. That’s fair, though it was inevitable.

Had the Wright Brothers not made their magic in 1903, it’s likely someone else would have claimed the honour within the ensuing few years. But that’s not what went down, and the Wrights should get their due. Happy birthday, air travel.

Write A Friend Month

Was the intent of this month to encourage us to write a letter to a friend? Perhaps. But I took it completely literally instead, because why not? I’ve written to friends numerous times throughout the year. Sometimes a celebration only needs to be as simple as its title. I’d say I’ve earned the experience to claim this snippet of wisdom.

Today at 4:30 we will embrace sweet, sweet freedom for the remainder of the year. Except for the scraps still dangling from the calendar. Here’s what’s up today:

  • Answer The Phone Like Buddy The Elf Day. Nobody ever calls me other than spammers. Maybe I’ll do this for the spammers.
  • National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. We don’t have any of these on hand, and our hopes to create one were shelved when we couldn’t go to the craft store without risking death.
  • Underdog Day. We could watch some old Underdog cartoons. Or reflect on how much we want the damn Cleveland Browns to win this year.
  • Bake Cookies Day. Again? How many cookies can we bake?
  • Flake Appreciation Day. Gotta love flakes, from snow to corn.
  • National Roast Suckling Pig Day. That’s a tall order for three people who really don’t want to eat one of these.
  • National Ham Salad Day. Let’s get freaky with ham salad!
  • National Wear A Plunger On Your Head Day. No, really. This is apparently a thing that exists.