Holiday season is upon us, but they’re the same old holidays we’ve always been stuck with. Turkey and football. Tinsel and standing in line for an hour to see a fat, sweaty temp worker dressed in a red flannel suit. Noisemakers, champagne, and the year’s first hangover. Isn’t it about time to add some new celebrations to our repertoire? Here are a few ideas:
Relative Trading Day (Monday after Thanksgiving). Everyone has someone weird in the family who makes trouble at every conceivable opportunity, and you’re stuck dealing with their problems for the rest of your life. Why not have a holiday once a year when you can permanently trade in your brother, who talks about his bowel movements every time you invite him to dinner, for someone else’s unwanted relative — say an uncle who comes over drunk and tries to borrow your camera to take to the pawnshop? Maybe you’d even get lucky and wind up with a sister whose worst fault is a fanatical cleaning fetish that causes her to come to your house once a week and scrub the floors.
Make-up Birthday Festival (May 2). For everyone who missed having a birthday party because they were sick, or no one remembered. Anyone celebrating their make-up birthday gets the day off. Everyone else gift wraps the birthday presents they never wanted, and brings them to designated party centers to be opened, and properly oohed and ahhed over. All citizens receive pointy party hats, a helium balloon, and a bag of party favors including glow-in-the-dark, rub-on tattoos, and pellets that turn into little animals when you drop them in water. At 1 p.m. the whole country sings “Happy Birthday,” led by the First Lady on piano and the President on kazoo, then has cake and ice cream.
Art Project Day (1st Friday in September). Remember in elementary school when the art teacher would come in every week for an hour? It didn’t make a difference if you hated art, or were color blind: Everybody had to cut out little bunnies and paste them onto green or red construction paper and sign their name in the corner, like Picasso, except with a crayon. It may have seemed stupid at the time, but it did get you out of taking another math quiz, or practicing how to spell Mississippi for the 97th time. Nowadays very few of us ever gets to take an art class, and express ourselves by gluing pieces of yarn onto each others’ rear ends. On Art Project Day, real live artists could come into businesses throughout America and lead employees in modern art exercises, such as spray painting graffiti on cubicle walls, or stringing rope in random patterns and decorating it with colorful monthly sales reports and bits of shredded confidential memos.
National Nap Day (1st Monday in February). Another holiday inspired by overly fond memories of elementary school. At 2 p.m. everybody stops working, and takes a nap. If you’re in your car you can simply pull over and lean the seat all the way back. At work, bring your sleeping bag and teddy bear and spread out on the floor next to the copy machine, instead of dozing off at your computer, like you normally do. Radio stations are required to play lullaby music for thirty minutes. No talking allowed or the monitor will have to separate you. After nap time everyone can have a snack of juice and crackers before resuming their regular routine.
Free Parking Day (April 15). Turn tax-deadline day into something to look forward to; the one day a year that you can park anywhere you want without fear of tickets or tow trucks. Pull into the fanciest $5-an-hour, high-rise garage, or the sleaziest “NO PARKING FROM HERE TO CORNER” downtown alley. Load in a NO LOADING zone. Park in a CUSTOMERS ONLY lot; even zoom into the IRS auditor’s RESERVED space. This holiday may be combined with Open Toilet Day, when all public and business bathrooms are unlocked and you can go anywhere in the city, any time you need to go, without asking some 17-year-old cashier’s permission first, or having to make a minimum purchase of a 32 oz. drink.
Alien Abduction Day (March 15). A free-for-all holiday open to varied interpretation. People who’ve been abducted by aliens could get together to talk about their experiences, including forums with Larry King or Geraldo. Groups of unfulfilled single people who would like to be abducted could gather in various well-advertised pick-up spots, like Iowa cornfields, or Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico, to see if they can get a little alien action. The Defense Department, in partnership with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, could go on full alert and try to provoke any UFOs spotted into an all-out intergalactic battle. This holiday would have big potential for product merchandising and psychiatric referrals in an otherwise slow season.
National Yard Sale Weekend (1st weekend in June). We all have plans for a yard sale sometime in the near future, but most of us never get around to doing much more than gathering together an enormous pile of junk we never quite know how to get rid of. On National Yard Sale Weekend, everybody can stick all their mismatched jelly glasses, ceramic penguins, and 478-piece jigsaw puzzles outside for the neighbors to pick over. Even numbered addresses sell on Saturday, odd numbers on Sunday. Plenty of buyers, plenty of sellers, plenty of crap.
Editor’s note: This column was originally published in December 1996. It is being republished this month to help celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Funny Times and because the writer is out of town, celebrating a new holiday (for him), his 50th birthday.