Thursday 08 Dec 2016

Day Daze
David Simmonds

How many times have you heard it said, “There aren’t enough days in a year” to get some task or other done? Well, my take is that’s because we have too many days in the year.

The point came home to me on my wife’s favourite day of the year, the winter solstice. Although I suspect from now on we’ll know and celebrate it as Apocalypse Day. It’s not that she’s particularly into crystals or New Age healing. For her, it’s enjoying the feeling that for the next six months, each day fills with more light than did the previous one. It may get colder yet, but it’s inexorably getting lighter. You can keep your equinoxes and summer solstice.

We never get to celebrate the winter solstice because it falls too darn close to Christmas. In fact, every year seems to be a mad rush of special days spilling into special days. We’ve Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Robbie Burns’ Day, Valentine’s Day, Family Day, avoiding St. Patrick’s Day; and then the sudden onrush of Good Friday, Easter Monday, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Victoria Day and Canada Day. Then we cruise through Civic Holiday, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day and Remembrance Day, and catch sight of Christmas again.

That’s too many “Days” and we’re only just getting started. There are several nationally recognized days, which that aren’t public holidays. The Department of Canadian Heritage recognizes National Flag Day, on 15 February; National Aboriginal Day on 21 June; St. Jean Baptiste Day on 24 June and Canadian Multiculturalism Day on 25 June. There was a law passed in 1982 to recognize the birthdays of Sir John A. Macdonald on 11 January and Wilfred Laurier on 20 November. Strangely enough, the Department’s website has much to say about the former Conservative prime minister, but is stone silent on the former Liberal PM.

Then there are our significant religious holy days like Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and numerous days for saints. This is only dipping only our fingertips into the Christian calendar, and only the Christian calendar. We all have our own list of family anniversaries.

Our friends at the United Nations have complicated matter still further for us by naming by my count some 61 official international days of this that and the other, all no doubt worthy in their own right, such as International Women’s Day on 8 March; World Mental Health Day on 10 October and World Aids Day on 1 December. For some reason, they slipped in a World Television Day on 21 November, which doesn’t seem to rank right up there with the big ones, but we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Sliding down towards the bottom of the barrel, we have our ‘excuse to do stupid things’ days like Groundhog Day, April Fool’s Day and Halloween. We have our ‘I didn’t know they had a day for that’ days, like Pi Day on 14 March, “Celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world,” according to the website. There are days that for some reason haven’t received universal approbation, like “Administrative Professionals’ Day, which was formerly Secretaries’ Day,” on 24 April and Grandparents’ Day on the first Sunday after Labour Day. Some clown even started an International Star Wars Day.

I haven’t dug into the clutter of official years, months and weeks that lies on top of the messy pile of official days. Did you know, for example, that 2013, the Chinese Year of the Snake, is also the International Year of Water Co-operation, the International Year of Statistics, how probable is that, and the International Year of Quinoa? March 2013 is Cheerleader Safety Month, according to the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators. The second week in December is Dromedary Awareness Week, in Prince Edward County, Ontario

My point should be obvious. How many days are there left for us just to acknowledge nothing except to think our own thoughts or work on our own priorities? Not enough and there still won’t be enough even is someone has the bright idea to start an ‘International Do Your Own Thing Day.’ We need acres of time to ourselves. It’s time for us to start selectively ignoring official days for things we don’t care about, such as, well, you decide. Maybe I’ll be big, bold and gracious and say I’ll skip Father’s Day.

At the same time, I feel sorry for poor neglected Wilfred Laurier, so I’ll take his 20 November observance and give up Groundhog Day. Now that I’ve come across it, I have to confess there's a certain, likable ring to 3.1415926535, Pi. I think maybe this year I’ll trade in Robbie Burns Day and go with International Pi Day instead. I’ve always had a thing for infinite numbers.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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