Last Word: Festivus For The Rest Of Us

I like holidays.

My favorites are the ones that involve binge-eating while being showered with gifts, along with all occasions celebrated at someone else’s house.

Regardless of the holiday, I’ll celebrate it.

Even when there’s not an occasion, I’ll still celebrate it, provided dessert and gravy are served.

Fortunately, according to a list of U.S. holidays and observances, there are 250 special days commemorated in any given calendar year.

There are holidays for groundhogs, administrative professionals, employees, trees, taxes, pioneers, parents, senior citizens and everything else shy of honoring spray deodorant.

Leif Erikson has his own holiday in October, though I can’t understand why considering he only had a couple of hit songs back in the ’70s.

The Scots celebrate National Tartan Day in April. And while I’m really more of a plaid person, I’m not opposed to a day of wearing skirts without underpants given the right circumstances.

Of the major holidays, my husband likes Thanksgiving the most. He says it’s because it’s relaxed and that we get to spend quality time with family.

I completely agree, of course, except for the “relaxed” and “quality time” parts.

Even though I don’t usually host it, there’s always some last-minute crisis with the dish I’ve volunteered to bring, like the time my husband helpfully offered to put my hash brown casserole in the oven.

A nice gesture if he’d remembered to remove the plastic covering first; a direct result of leaving him unsupervised in the kitchen.

With only minutes to spare before leaving, I pulled it out to discover that instead of a casserole, my Thanksgiving contribution was Cling Wrap Cheesy Potatoes.

On the years that my side dish isn’t a biohazard, someone has inevitably invited 23 extra guests to dinner at last minute, then complains that I didn’t make enough.

And there’s also the compulsory public speaking part when we go around the table and acknowledge what we’re thankful for.

It’s a tough crowd known to boo after the obligatory “I’m thankful for my friends and family” speech, which gives me performance anxiety when it’s my turn.

If it were up to me, I’d skip the niceties and talk about stuff I’m actually thankful for like mixed drinks, Ped Egg refills on sale at CVS, and that the neighbor kids finally stopped chipping golf balls at our house when they think we’re not home.

My favorite holiday is Halloween. The one time of year when it’s not illegal to assume a fake identity and candy has no calories.

After that, it’s probably Christmas. Even though it’s at my house, I really enjoy it. Especially the moments right before people arrive and after they leave.

Other than that, it can be a little stressful.

First of all, no one ever comes on time.

There’s always at least one Early-Arriver who shows up while we’re still in a sweaty, pre-company vacuuming fugue, claiming I told them a different time than I actually did.

Preferable, however, to the Late-Arriver, who pulls in just as everyone else is leaving.

And with no place to be, the Late-Arriver becomes the Late-Stayer by default, parking it on the couch and opening another bottle of wine just when we think it’s finally time for bed.

Most years there’s also some kind of uncomfortable gift exchange.

For a long time it was the Yankee Swap.

But year over year it grew increasingly contentious when it became obvious that not everyone was sticking to the $25-per-gift plan.

Half of the contingency was re-gifting moldy items rummaged from the basement, and the other half went over the top with lavish gifts in a shameless bid for favoritism.

With everyone fighting to secure the big-ticket items or dump the crap ones, it eventually turned into a hostile “Game of Thrones” situation, complete with sinister plots and backstabbing, all over a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.

One year we tried celebrating the Seinfeld-inspired “Festivus.”

While we didn’t put up a silver pole, we did go out for Festivus Dinner at P.F. Chang’s.

It started off well enough. Everyone was laughing and eating pot stickers until The Airing of Grievances started and things went downhill from there.

What began as a joke ended with no one speaking for the entire car ride home and we didn’t celebrate Festivus again.

On the upside, there are only 319 days to go before Halloween.

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