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Remembering Why We Have Holidays

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OK, I'm from another generation. I'm a Baby Boomer. I know it's a ridiculous term -- and even though most of us are in our 50s and 60s, we're still "Baby" Boomers.

Candy spelling, Iwo Jima Memorial

Candy Spelling: One of the common denominator memories we Boomers have is that holidays were always on the same day (except for Thanksgiving and Labor Day, which had to be on certain Thursdays and Mondays, respectively).

When we were growing up, Veteran's Day and Columbus Day and George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays were always on the same date, even if they didn't fall on a Monday or start or finish a long weekend. (Actually, math prevented that from happening most years.) We had days off from school, even in the middle of a week, so we could celebrate and/or think about the holidays.

That's just one reason holidays were more special, and I worry about today's younger generations.

Do they know that "President's Day" was originally two separate days for the two men determined to be our two most important presidents, one on February 12 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birth in 1809, and one on February 22 to commemorate George Washington's birth in 1732?

Veteran's Day, which is back on November 11 again (for a while it moved around as the fourth Monday in November), was very important to all of us who had parents or grandparents who had served in the military -- and that was almost every member of our generation. Our family members had been in World War I or World War II, and they wore their old uniforms and marched in parades to celebrate the bravery and dedication of veterans and those who didn't return. We knew to stop and salute the veterans and be nicer to our fathers, grandfathers, and uncles who were in the "war." Tom Brokaw wrote about them as "The Greatest Generation." They gave their lives for the rest of us.

Even Halloween had a meaning when we were younger. We hadn't heard of Harry Potter or Freddy Krueger, and couldn't imagine a costume when we were older that might have a face like Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan. We were reminded that Halloween was, in addition to dressing up and getting lots of candy, the time to think about all the children UNICEF helped and do our part, too.

Holidays felt more special, maybe because each had their own special days and special meanings.

I'm glad we have fewer veterans today, and all of us know less people who have been killed or injured in war. But, we still have thousands of men and women at war for our country, and thousands more have been killed or injured just in the current wars. Many men and women who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam are still part of our lives and memories, too.

I'm hoping parents will do some homework now and next month to tell their children what we were taught about Veteran's Day and other important commemorations that are so much a part of the story of our country and its wonderful people.

And, thanks to all of you who serve our country, and to your families who suffer so much so our military can watch out for the rest of us.

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11 comments so far | Post a comment now
Leslie October 21, 2009, 4:25 PM

I remember. I’m afraid we’re losing important cultural memories.

sue October 21, 2009, 4:38 PM

I liked it better when we had real holidays, too.

Taylor October 21, 2009, 4:40 PM

My kids aren’t learning about our history and it’s a shame.

Marguerite October 21, 2009, 5:48 PM

Bravo, I remember learning about the importance of these holidays and why we celebrated them. We no longer support the history that made this country great. Our children’s children will only know its a three day holiday, a day to sleep in, a page in a history book that holds little meaning.Remember why we hang our flags. We put out Halloween and Christmas in the summer. We no longer wait in anticipation, by the time the holiday arrives we are ready to put it away. Thanks for the reminder, we should post this on the frige. That way everyone can see it.

Nicole October 22, 2009, 10:49 AM

So true. I gave up on the holidays a long time ago for these reasons. Thanks for the reminder Candy.

Nancy October 22, 2009, 10:54 AM

I don’t have kids yet but I fear that so much of what my parents and my grandparents experienced won’t translate to them and will just be forgotten. We can only do things like this to remind ourselves of what’s really important.

Penny October 22, 2009, 11:13 AM

If holidays don’t have meaning then there’s nothing to look forward to!

Vicki October 22, 2009, 11:28 AM

I am in my mid-30s and had no idea about some of the dates and details Candy outlined. It is vital to current and future generations that we honor and commemorate - Thanks for the reminder how important these teachings are.

Rebecca October 22, 2009, 11:48 AM

I want to join Candy in thanking all those men, women and families who have served and sacrificed for the rest of us. We don’t express our appreciation nearly enough. Every day should be Veteran’s Day.

Renee October 22, 2009, 1:40 PM

Holidays have become diluted and over commercialized. Thank you for reminding us why we set aside special days.

Jackie October 22, 2009, 1:48 PM

My kids think holidays are just an excuse not to go to school. The teachers don’t have time to teach about tradition and American history and culture, they are all to busy teaching for standardized tests. As a parent, you are right, it is our job to keep our history alive and teach our own children about the meaning of holidays. Thanks Candy!

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