As we head into the heart of autumn, witnessing the temperatures cool and the trees transform into their kaleidoscope of colors, I find myself searching for a quiet, unfettered hour during these October days—something I didn’t seem to have time for when I was younger. Nothing planned, just snatches of reading or TV, daydreaming, random reflections.
The other day I dipped into a few minutes of TV news when the local anchors started gabbing about “National Homemade Cookies Day,” one of our country’s seemingly endless supply of National [fill in the blank] Days/Weeks/Months. I don’t remember this many so-called national commemorations as a kid growing up, so my random reflection settled on: “First, who comes up with these things? And second, why do we feel compelled to report on them as if they were news?”
Well, I think the answer to the second question is easy. It’s not news. And nobody cares. It’s a fun and fluffy conversation piece, a respite from the deluge of daily crises, conflicts and disasters. As to the first question, it seems the answer (thanks to the internet) is that these are not official U.S. government celebrations, of course, but they’ve made it onto the register of the National Day Calendar (www.nationaldaycalendar.com), founded almost 10 years ago by North Dakota native and self-described serial entrepreneur Marlo Anderson. Apparently, Anderson became frustrated in his effort to find out information about National Popcorn Day (it’s now January 19), so he launched the calendar as a way to celebrate and share information about more obscure and unique holidays.
Anderson’s hobby soon became a business, and today more than 20,000 media outlets use National Day Calendar as a source for their stories. Not surprisingly, thousands of companies, nonprofits, brands, causes and other special interests apply to be listed on the calendar each year. Only a handful are accepted annually. (They pay a fee, depending on the size of the organization and whether they want the calendar’s help in promoting the holiday.)
There are some 330 national commemorations in October alone. Some of them are long-established cultural traditions, like Halloween, or government holidays, like Columbus Day. Many of them lift up serious causes, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month or National Work and Family Month. But a lot of them are whacky and left me amused—or bemused.
- National Hagfish Day (Why?)
- National Sarcastic Awareness Month (Yeah, that’s really necessary)
- National No Beard Day (Good luck with that!)
- National Pizza Month (Do we really need a special month for the most-consumed food in America?)
- National Greasy Food Day (OK, there’s also National Food Day, which focuses on healthy and nutritious foods)
- Squirrel Awareness Month (No thanks, I’m all too aware of them)
- Chucky, the Notorious Killer Doll Day (Again, why?)
There are some October celebrations, however, that I will take seriously. One of them is National Book Month, created by the National Book Foundation almost 20 years ago to emphasize the importance of reading and writing. As fewer and fewer people read books these days, I treat books like a protected class. Over the years, I, too, found myself reading fewer and fewer books until I joined a Men’s Book Group and realized how important books were in adding real depth, knowledge and historical perspective to the scatter-shot or information and data we absorb every day.
In fact, many of my 45 Forward guests are authors, including several in October. Kasley Killam (Oct. 24), a brilliant researcher in the field of loneliness and social isolation, is writing a book about the need to strengthen social health for everyone. Mary Pipher (Oct. 31) is a clinical psychologist and the author of a collection of life-changing books, several of which help navigate the journey of aging. And Tara Ballman, the Executive Director of the National Aging in Place Council, has just co-authored a collection of engaging conversations with industry experts about how Americans can remain in their homes for as long as possible, safely and independently.
Ironically, National Aging In Place Week (Oct. 10-14) is not on the National Day Calendar. I’m going to celebrate it, though, because as I’ve come to know the members of this professional group, I appreciate the immense resources and expertise they offer to families everywhere who need help managing the later chapters of life. Alternatively, we can join those who say, “Why do we need all these special days? Every day is special—especially as we get older.”
True. But no worries, the National Calendar Day’s got you covered. Just go to www.nationalcalendarday.com and order your “Celebrate Every Day” T-shirt.