As we approach the Labor Day weekend, it occurs to me to explain how I look at holidays thruout the year. In my mind they’re like a chain of islands in the ocean of the working schedule. So let me start at the beginning. First up, of course, is New Year’s Day on 1 January. I personally don’t make a big deal of New Year in general, not going much beyond watching the ball drop, having a drink, and then watching the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day itself. But it’s the start of the year. Next is Martin Luther King day, a relatively recent addition to the holiday schedule. Coming only a couple weeks after the holidays, it’s almost like a pause for breath. In February there’s President’s Day, which is not much of a big deal to me beyond getting a three-day weekend and listening to endless advertisements for car sales and “white sales.” It barely registers. March has Saint Patrick’s Day, which means pretty much nothing and I barely notice it. April has Easter, which means pretty much nothing and I barely notice it. May brings the next really significant holiday, Memorial Day. The unofficial start of summer, here in the DC area the weather has usually turned quite warm by now, everything is lush and green after the gray days of winter and the allergies of Spring, and we – or at least I – reflect on those who have gone before and are no more. Then, before you can blink, it’s the Fourth of July. Since this is a specific date and not a three-day weekend, it’s kind of uneven as a holiday in some respects. But it’s also the most American holiday there is and to me is the height of summer. Weather is almost always warm and sticky in DC, crowds for the festivities on the Mall are off the hook, and there is the intoxicating scent of backyard grilling everywhere. After that is what I perceive as a long, slow slide down the back slope of summer to the holiday coming up this weekend, Labor Day. Pretty much the end of summer as the kids are back in school and the roads therefore obstructed by school buses. More cooking out, tho not as much as the Fourth, a bunch of retail sales like for Memorial Day at the beginning of summer, and a brief break before we dive into the best part of the year. Because after Labor Day we get Halloween. The greatest, most glorious of the year’s holidays, even tho we don’t get any time off for it. Yeah, there’s Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day before you get there, but that’s scarcely a blip even tho it’s a three-day weekend. October means the air turning crisp and cool, the scent of falling leaves, the trees ablaze with color, and of course Christmas stuff in all the stores. Overlooking the aggressively annoying onset of Christmas advertising, Halloween is the best. The whole atmosphere in October leading up to it. The last couple weekends of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which is when I usually go to it. The weather has cooled enough that it’s not a misery walking around the grounds. There are haunted houses to visit, Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens, and usually the visit to my old friends in Philadelphia for the little haunted house we put on most years. But of course, Halloween is the very end of October, and the next day, November 1, is to me a very sad day. Taking down my decorations, the warm glow of jack o’lanterns gone for another year . . . *sigh* November has two and a half holidays. Veterans Day, which most people treat as another retail sales weekend but I personally find a time for reflection on the time I, and many others, spent in service. Election Day, when it’s an election year, which altho not a holiday almost counts as one as it’s our most direct experience with participating in the great American experiment. And then, toward the end, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving used to be my second favorite holiday after Halloween, what with the family gathering and the feast and the football and the parades and whatnot. But now, there’s almost nothing left of my family. I don’t go up to New York any more for it as there’s no gathering to attend. Holly and I will do a meal, but it’s nothing like the huge family events of yesteryear. And of course, once Thanksgiving is past . . . December, which is pretty much Christmas Month. As a kid I loved Christmas almost as much as Halloween. As an adult I really just sort of endure it. We do a little stuff, have a special dinner and exchange a few gifts, but to me the overall feeling of the holiday has been ruined by the grotesque degree of commercialization that attends it now. And of course, the fact that I haven’t experienced a “white Christmas” in many, many years, thanks to climate change. Personally I find the mood around Christmas Eve to be more satisfying than Christmas Day. Leading up to Christmas Eve is really the heart of the experience. Once the day is upon us, the mood seems to dissipate pretty quickly. Then a week later we have New Year again. New Year’s Eve is a time I spend at home, not going out amongst the drunken idiots. Watching CNN as they cover the various big cities and their festivities, the ball drop in Times Square, and then a sip of some fine Scotch at midnight. And that’s my year in holidays.