Have a happy Memorial day?
on 6/3/2004 (3)
Memorial day doesn't mean much to me at a personal level. Don't misunderstand me. I understand that freedom is not free. That is not a tired old jingoistic patriotic cliche, that is an iron fact. What I mean is, -is that I'm not a veteran.
|Nothing like an ice cold beer on a hot Christmas morning! |
I sometimes wish I would have joined the armed forces. Never mind the possibility of going to war and getting maimed or killed, or 4 years of cleaning latrines and peeling potatoes. I think it would have been worth it. Vets have a culture and language all of their own. They're part of an exclusive club.
Indeed, I have been able to identify several 'holiday maladies'. Here are some:
Veteran envy: This one is experienced by wanna be militiamen everywhere. If you've never been in the military, how the heck can you rate up to a true-blue veteran? Fact is, you can't.
Symptoms include a chin down posture at marches, greeting real soldiers with mock salutes and muttering excuses like 'I tried to join, but my feet are flat' or 'there wasn't a recruiting office in my small town'.
Thankfully, this holiday passes quickly, and is hallmarked more significantly by an extra day off work and a tense, but necessary day with the inlaws or extended family.
Truth is, don't take Veteran envy too seriously. Most of the guys who joined the armed forces wished they hadn't, and this day rightfully belongs to them, so let them have a day in the sun.
Ghost of Christmas depression: Christmas depression is the worst of all holiday diseases, and can actually be fatal. All of us who annually practice the X-mas ritual have a complex of feelings and memories beginning shortly after Thanksgiving. Many thoughts crowd the mind. Who do I buy gifts for? What should I buy? How much do I spend? Will everyone buy gifts for me? What if they don't?
Fact is, Christmas is less about Jesus than it is about bonding with family and friends. This holiday is very stressfull for those of us who have lost loved ones through divorce or death, or are just otherwise lonely. Doctors and pharmacies report huge increases in business starting around December 1st, especially for mind altering drugs like anti-depressants, sleeping pills and pain killers. Small wonder. We think we are supposed to be happy around this time of year, and will do anything to achieve it, and feel terrible and outcast if we don't. I worked for a Russian computer company for 5 years, and all of the other employees were Russians who never practiced the Christmas ritual. They were not affected by the Christmas blitz. They do not share the anxiety, because it was not ingrained in them over the years since childhood. I learned something from that, and even envied them a little. Lesson is, you can't let yourself get psyched out.
Thanksgiving overdose: Thanksgiving overdose is marked by an gross overconsumption of turkey and turkey accessories. If you think about it, how bizarre is that? A culinary homage to a noisy, ugly bird. Social overdose is a reality as well, as Thanksgiving also means flying to Newark for a groady kiss from a distant aunt, or to suffer the acrid smoke from uncle Bill's El Segundo cigars. Take it in stride. Once your'e back home again, you'll feel better. That's the gist of Holiday stress. Once it's over, you feel better.
That's what Thanksgiving, Christmas and Memorial Day are all about. They are not primarily about religious or historical events, per se. They are about bonding with family and friends, establishing ties so we don't feel alone
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