Calendar Awareness

To: Hugh Andrews, President and CEO, Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, Missouri; Mike Brown, Vice President of Sales, Brown Trout Publishers, El Segundo, California; Walter Weintz, CEO, Workman Publishing, New York, New York

I am writing because the majority of calendars sold in this country are published by your companies, and you are in a position to make needed changes. The beginning of May brought these changes to my mind. I kept waiting for my May basket. Where was the May pole? Who had been crowned Queen of the May? I was filled with nostalgia for those days when we would watch the May Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square on television as news commentators watched for signs of who was gaining or losing power at the Supreme Soviet, the legislature of the former Soviet Union. You could be sure if a Soviet leader was absent from the May Day parade, he had also disappeared from power. May Day, once a pagan festival and a day for international power politics, now passes with little notice in any of your calendars.

On May 1, 1886, May Day became known as Labor International Solidarity Day in the United States. However, due in part to the aforementioned Russians and parades, President Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 as Law Day. In 1958, the United States Congress made it an official holiday called Loyalty Day. 

Many holidays have faded into the cultural crosswinds and convenient three-day vacations. Rather than fight this cultural forgetfulness, let me suggest two new holidays to add to your calendars.

Taxpayer Appreciation Day (TAD). Let’s have a day to celebrate everyone who pays taxes. It might surprise some to see who those people are—undocumented immigrants, for example. It might be equally instructive to see who those people aren’t. More to the point, taxpayers—and especially those who pay a lot—get routinely kicked around for never paying enough. We have days for dead presidents and groundhogs; isn’t it time we had a day for the people who elect presidents to office?

Public Accountability Day (PAD). Let’s set aside a day to celebrate the accountability of public officeholders. Any person holding or seeking elective office could make a full explanation of any of their actions on Public Accountability Day and be entirely forgiven.

For example, who was responsible for the Thandiwe Peebles mess in the Minneapolis public school system? And if the Iraq war is the result of bungled intelligence, why did we give the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, the Medal of Freedom?

Candidates and officeholders would rush to disclose their foibles or outright lies during the 24 hours of Public Accountability Day so that they could be unburdened with truth or recrimination in the future. Presidential candidates describing themselves as avid hunters could reveal that they have “hunted,” at most, twice in their lifetimes. Those claiming to be named after the famous Sir Edmund Hillary, even if born years before his Mount Everest ascent, could come forward and be forgiven, as could anyone claiming that his parents first met three years after his birth, during the Selma, Alabama, civil rights march.

So there you have it, two new holidays for your calendars—truly holidays for our modern era. Your efforts may even spin off new businesses: TAD cards (thank you for all your taxpayer dollars) or video collections of people’s favorite politicians fessing up. We could even put the cards and the DVDs into May baskets and leave them on people’s doorsteps.

Yours for the Holidays,

Vance K. Opperman

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