Holidays are important to me, so much so that I invented my own awhile ago. But today I had a strange experience that makes me think in the U.S. we’ve lost the idea completely.

Today is July 4th, Independence day and we’re supposed to be doing fun things to celebrate the birth of the United States (and hopefully remembering times when the world thought better of us).

But surprise, surprise. My local supermarket is open all day. As is the neighboring video rental store, Thai resteraunt and various other stores. And the biggest surprise was how good business was: it was hard to find parking.

What’s going on? Are holidays only holidays for some now?

Hypocracy disclaimer: my wife is sick today and on a lark I called the video place. Since they were open I drove over and picked up some food and a movie for her. But I had the strangest feeling the whole time that things would be better off if all those stores were closed.

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2 Responses to “The lost concept of the holiday”

  1. dotone |

    In the Middle East where I reside, holidays are taken very seriously! A day such as July 4th would be national holiday and the government departments would be all closed along with schools, colleges, and embessies. The market is free, but still most of the shops would be closed. They’re the days that you enjoy driving having no traffic jams.

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  2. LL |

    I feel a similar sense of unease. “Once upon a time” stores closed on Sunday. “Once upon a time” stores closed on statutory holidays.

    But that was also when the husband went to work and the wife kept the house — including doing shopping, banking (between 10:00 and 3:00 only), and that myriad of errands and chores that filled up her day.

    Today, it’s a two-income world and those earlier business hours simply aren’t feasible. Many staff in many stores are part time and, for them, working on a statutory holiday or a Sunday is simply part of their week with alternate time scheduled for “equivalent” statutory holidays and Sundays. It used to be, too, that working on a Saturday or Sunday got double- or triple-time because of the acknowledged impact. These days, staff are often considered to be (in Donald Rumsfeld’s word) fungible and people are scheduled to work July 4 but they get a day off on another date. That “day off,” however, is on too many occasions, simply a day working at a second job.

    So … societal structure has changed and former landmark dates are now (like stop signs) simply suggestions. While I empathise with your feelings, I think we need to move to (I’ve been trying to work this in!) a new paradigm. We need to acknowledge the holidays, we need to celebrate the events they commemorate and we need to be flexible in scheduling our (and others) time to make time to reflect on important events. After all, the date on the Declaration of Independence is July 4 — but the vote was on July 2. Which is more important: the vote? or the conclusion of the tinkering with a few words and phrases?

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