If this project is meant to serve as a document of my mental health (and physical goings-on) throughout this astoundingly weird year, then let it be noted in the record that by December 10 I had finally had enough. Enough of the pandemic, enough of arguing with people about the pandemic, and enough of this trudge-heavy routine. I find myself staring at this page with no real desire to fill it. I know, craving a day off from a project with only three weeks remaining, it sounds silly. But my spirit has been lying prone on the floor since the moment the day began. Forced celebrations will not raise them. Still, here’s what we forced anyway:
Yes, we indulged in the religious ritual of Hanukkah, despite my Judaism existing solely as a designation of my hereditary roots. I was never raised to possess the faith, and the faith never found me. I’m happy to have Jewish roots, don’t get me wrong; we’re an interesting people with a tremendous history for coping with global bullshit by leaning on intellect and humour. I dig that. I simply don’t have any desire to subscribe to any religion. I don’t see the point, at least for me.
But when we had kids, I knew I wanted them to see the best of all holidays in their ancestry. Hanukkah is pretty low on the Jewish ladder in terms of holiday importance, but it shows up right around Christmas, and we Jews want something to celebrate. If only my ancestors had known about National Bartender Day.
The best parts of Hanukkah are, without question, the candles and the story. The story is great, whether coming from a history book or from the Holiday Armadillo telling it on a sitcom. And the candles are a beautiful symbol of that story. My kids watched me light the candles, and we’ve kept up the tradition even in their absence. It’s a simple tradition – you don’t even have to remember the candles are there, provided you set up your menorah in a safe location and you bought the correct ones which burn out within an hour.
Hanukkah rang somewhat shallow last night. Maybe it was my flattened spirit, knowing we won’t be getting both our kids home for the holidays thanks to this virus. Maybe it’s just the sour air in a sour world. A deep devotion to optimism and positivity is a tricky beast to maintain. But we lit up, and we did toast the fact that Abbey will be joining us before the menorah is filled up. That’s pretty awesome. This year, I’d say it’s a damn miracle.
Festival For The Souls Of Dead Whales
Rumoured to have been an aspect of Inuit culture, a reporter from National Geographic looked into this one and found nothing. Yes, the whales are celebrated in many Inuit communities in many different ways all throughout the year. But no one can source a genuine annual December commemoration to whales who have died. Or really any commemoration for whales who have died – whales? Sure. But dead ones? Well, we’re going to celebrate them here.
In fairness, I celebrated this one by listening to a few moments of whale sounds. Aside from taking a couple hours and re-watching Star Trek IV, I didn’t see much else I could do for these lost souls. I never read Moby Dick, but I did watch that youtube video of the whale exploding on the beach, so I kind of get their plight. Whales are amazing creatures, and we celebrated their amazingness already this year. Yesterday we took a moment of silence for the ones who didn’t make it through 2020.
This was a rough year all over the animal kingdom, not only down our little branch of taxonomy.
Dewey Decimal System Day
Well goddamn, we may not feel prompted to flail about in wild, manic revelry but how could we overlook this one? This system was the my first foray into research, learning how non-fiction was categorized identically in libraries everywhere. I thought it was fascinating. I also thought, there’s nothing interesting about this guy or his system, is there? I mean, apart from its existence?
Well, let’s start with the guy. Melvil Dewey, who would have turned 169 years old yesterday – hence the celebration – was a bit of a weasel. In one Alaskan cruise with his fellow library people, Dewey was accused of sexually harassing four different women. This would have been well over a century before such accusations were commonplace. He wound up booted from the American Library Association for being such a creep.
He founded a school for aspiring librarians at Columbia in New York City, which is great! 90% of his students were female, so he was helping a lot of women who wanted to enter the workplace. Cool! Except he insisted upon seeing a photo of the women before admitting them. There was a rumour he asked for bust sizes too, but that was proven false. It was probably a product of his time, but the original Dewey Decimal System classifications put any LGBTQ material under ‘Abnormal Psychology’, ‘Perversion’ and ‘Derangement’. The system was also rather racist in its earliest incarnation.
So there are a few little bits of info my elementary school librarian neglected to tell me. What else were you hiding, Mr. Gibson? Next I’ll find out the guy *didn’t* win the 1948 presidential election.
Today I hope to find greater oomph in my oomphiness, or a more focussed yearning to tackle the hours with fervor and enthusiasm. If I don’t… meh. It’s a day. Here’s what’s on the menu:
- National App Day. I’ll try out a new app or two, because this is a celebration tailor-made for quarantine.
- National Noodle Ring Day. These look kind of grotesque. I’m not sure I’m in the mood for eating something grotesque today.
- International Mountain Day. We aren’t going to see any mountains in person, but we can learn about them. Maybe drink some Mountain Dew.
- National Tango Day. We can try faking the tango, since neither of us knows how to do it properly. Also, it takes two to fake a tango, or so I’ve heard.
- National Have A Bagel Day. I wish I had one. Were I at my office I’d pick one up for breakfast. But I’m not.
- Official Lost And Found Day. Oh, so this is the official one. And here we were, celebrating all those knock-off Lost and Found Days.
- National Salespersons Day. I used to be one. I guess I’ll celebrate me of the past.