When people ask me what I do, sometimes I deviate from my usual answer, the one that pays the bills: “I’m a government desk drone.” Sometimes I tell them I’m a writer. Unfortunately, they often respond with something like, “Oh! What sort of stuff do you write?” at which point I have to tell them, “Big, stupid projects.”
In 2012 I undertook the task of writing 1,000 words per day for 1,000 consecutive days – a fresh article on a fresh topic every day. Some days I got cute – I wrote in haiku, in sonnet, in infomercial script, or as a class lecture by a terrible substitute teacher. Once I wrote an entire article without using the letter ‘e’. While this project was admittedly bizarre and mostly pointless, it was a blast to put together something no one had done before. Now I’m doing it again.
That’s me – Marty – on the right, the one with more hair than a human rightfully needs. The cute one in the photo, that’s Jodie, my wife of 20 years. This time I’m dragging her into the muck with me; we are in this together. The good news is that this project will only take 366 days, not 1,000. The bad news is that it will be a lot more work. Luckily, we have two very capable assistants:
Over the course of 2020, we plan to celebrate every little holiday we possibly can. Everything. National Strawberry Ice Cream Day? Sure. National Hot Buttered Rum Day? Definitely. National Hug A Drummer Day? I guess so. Some are traditional holidays that we usually tend to ignore (we haven’t been out for a green beer on St. Patrick’s Day in decades), others are traditional holidays we’ve never experienced (what events in our city commemorate Chinese New Year?). Most appear to be corporate holidays, or ways to move product (I’m sure National Oreo Cookie Day is not a natural byproduct of culture), and some are absolutely invented by the sources we perused to find these celebrations. Many (like Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night) come from some guy who invented dozens of weird holidays just because. More on him later.
Under the What’s Coming Up link at the top of the page you can see a calendar showing everything we are hoping to celebrate – at least one item every day for the year, sometimes as many as twelve. What the calendar doesn’t show are the official Weeks and Months of the year. That’s okay, we’ll still get to them. You’ll see what we have done under the So Far link. If people have suggestions, we’ll take ’em. If friends and family and strangers want to join us, we’ll have ’em. If anyone wants to declare a National (their company) Day and have us commemorate it, we can be bribed.
The format will be written articles, peppered with videos and photographs of our daily missions. I’ll also be sprinkling in a few shout-outs to historical anniversaries and notable birthdays. Why? Because I’m fascinated by forgotten folks from history (like cowboy/sculptor Earl W. Bascom – happy birthday June 19!) and I want to soak up some of the greatness from each day’s legacy.
Where Are We Doing This?
Mostly in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and surrounding area. We’d love to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, honor Museum Selfie Day at the Louvre or take part in National Pizza Day with a slice from Joe’s in Greenwich Village, but we are unsponsored and on a budget. The grocery budget for 2020 alone is going to rival that of a family of six.
Jodie will be taking a few vocation-related trips throughout the year to Calgary – and supervising one class trip to New York – but otherwise we will be sticking close to home. We simply won’t get much done on this project without the help of our dogs.
What Are The Rules?
To qualify as a celebration we have to engage with the topic beyond the surface. We will talk about some events, pay our respects when it’s World HIV Awareness Day, but that isn’t a celebration. If it’s about food, we’ll either eat the food or spend some effort commemorating it properly. If it’s National Read In The Bathtub Day, we will damn well read in the bathtub. A celebration requires more than just the minimum effort.
If the celebration is religious or cultural, we will approach it with respect. Where possible we will endeavor to take part in something going on in the community. Neither of us subscribe to the doctrine of any specific religion so faking prayers or pretending we are devout worshipers is out of the question. We both want to learn about these customs and traditions, but we acknowledge our role as tourists.
Also, no politics. It’s hard to squeeze politics out of everything these days, but we will strive to keep this project as an oasis of life’s other weirdnesses.
Where Did We Find All These Holidays?
I found a handful of terrific resources:
- Chase’s Calendar of Events – Since 1957 these folks have been putting out a massive guide to all the world’s toasts and banner-days. Buying this book has been incredibly valuable, I can’t recommend it enough.
- National Day Calendar – A terrific free online resource. I believe these folks have invented a few of their own (like a national day for each US state), but what the hell, we’ll add ’em to the party.
- National Today – Another great online resource. A lot of cross-over with the other sources, but they found a few the others had missed.
- Wikipedia – Yes, my beloved mistress who saw me through my last writing crusade, factual errors and all. There is a page devoted to each day of the year, so that’s some light reading for you.
- Thomas Roy – I mentioned this guy earlier. Roy’s an actor. From what I understand, he noted that Chase’s Calendar of Events will include a new holiday if you submit it. He went on to invent close to 80 days of utter weirdness. I like this guy’s moxie, and as such we have thrown these into the pile.
I expect as we move through this process, people may suggest other holidays we hadn’t thought of. This would be fantastic, though too many more may actually kill us.
Good question. Because the world can be a dark and soul-crushing place? Because the 2020 US election threatens to drown our collective social media experience in bile and crap-flecked spittle? Because it hasn’t – to our knowledge – been done before?
It’s also a personal challenge. Our kids moved out of the house (and across the country, which may say something about us…) and our favorite pastime has become watching TV and movies or reading in bed. Every night, right after dinner. Call it a rut, call it boring as hell, but our lives need this disruption.
Well, they need a disruption – maybe not this one. Maybe we’ll learn as early as mid-January that we’d simply rather spend our days soaking up the serene glow emanating from our television set. That’s okay; when I started my last writing project I wasn’t sure I’d see it through to the end either. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing. It wouldn’t be a big, stupid project.
And that would simply make me a government desk drone and nothing more. Where’s the fun in that?