Now that the Presidents' Day weekend has been over for a few days, a lot of people are looking toward the next three-day respite. Many are lamenting that it won't roll around until Memorial Day, May 30. For some, the interval is the calendar version of the Bataan Death March.
Not me. I'm standing at the curbside of Time, gleefully watching the parade of holidays that begins with Valentine's Day and marches to a colorful tattoo through Presidents' Day weekend, St. Patrick's Day and on to Easter.
This is my favorite time of year. The holidays are simple and emblematic. They summon happy years of childhood. Back then, the holidays paced off the winter into neat thematic chunks of time until spring arrived, officially, with Easter.
Along the way, we were consumed by frenzied, anticipatory projects. We shaped the icons for each holiday with round-nosed scissors and construction paper, creating festoons for the classroom and the refrigerator door at home. The focus was the pending holiday. It was certainly clever of teacher to arrange things so that after the holiday was over, another one was around the corner.
But, it isn't the remembrance of things past perfect that makes it possible to endure the marathon between Mondays off from work. It is the unique flavor of each holiday, however commercial, that sets it apart from every other day of the year.
To be perfectly fair, Groundhog Day deserves some mention. It rightfully belongs at the start of all this holiday action. But this day suffers from very bad public relations. As a symbol, the groundhog needs a media overhaul. It isn't portrayed as a warm and fuzzy animal like a bunny or reindeer. Rather, it's relegated to some animal underclass, a large rodent-like beast that sticks its blinking face out of a camera-lit hole in Pennsylvania to give us hope about spring. Hope? Who needs hope when you live in Orange County's winter paradise, with temperatures hitting record highs? It's the rest of the country that's freezing its noogies off.
Valentine's Day really marks the beginning of the grand procession. Hearts, cupids, flowers and candy: Store windows fill with a shade of scarlet that has come to say "love" more than the red of Christmas. And the valentine itself has literally become the Hallmark of sentiment. Admit it, this year you really cared whether you received a valentine.
As soon as Valentine's Day is over, the hearts come down and the shamrocks go up. Suddenly, the color theme is green-green-green. A harbinger of spring. Cupids give way to leprechauns.
Funny how little creatures dominate here, both mythological but with important differences. Cupids say, "Let's fall in love." The little men in green say, "Let's party!" And the green beer flows from Fullerton to San Clemente.
Easter rounds things out nicely. Lots of time after St. Patrick's Day for the stores to take down the leprechauns and put up the rabbits. The soft pastels of Southern California architecture seem custom-designed for the season. Breezy fashions fill the store windows. Flowers can be justifiably bought for oneself. Marshmallow chicks in fluorescent colors hatch on candy-store shelves. And jelly beans assume a nonpartisan status.
Of course, as we grow older, perspectives change. If Easter is on the horizon, can weekends at Newport Beach be far behind? Forget the Easter candy and the search for tasteful spring dress shoes. Let's talk sun screens.
And while we're at it, let's discuss plans for Memorial Day weekend and the next Monday off. After all, it's just around the corner, you know.