I invent holidays

I’ve always admired people with great intent for their lives, who know exactly who they want to be and what they want to do and pursue those clear visions with purpose and determination. I’m hardly unfocused or unaccomplished, but I’ve come to realize in my middle years that what I really am is opportunistic. I have a general vision for the kind of person I’d like to be and the kind of things I like to do. But what I’m really good at is seeing a hole – an opening – and then leaping into it to make my mark.

This year’s Mocksgiving

Most especially, with holidays. You all know my calendar of unique holidays. We have Mocksgiving two weeks before Thanksgiving (November 16 this year – mark your calendars). That was followed by Piemas, coming up next weekend. Then Flynn’s Fiery Feast, which is still forming but seems to have the theme of “we can’t make up our mind whether it’s inside or out”. These are not fake holidays, for all their provenance is known and created. I have heard many times that Mocksgiving is a true celebration of gratitude, friendship like unto family and tradition. (The mock, for the record, is not mock as in mocking. It’s mock as in trial run. It turns out you can’t rename holidays after 20 years of having them under one name.) These holidays have traditions and rules that guide and govern them just as any other holiday does. They even have holiday attire. (I have a great pie-themed dress! I still need a better Mocksgiving outfit.) There are things we always do, the community of shared experience, the stories of what happened last time we gathered. They are entirely real.

Me, in my Piedress, eating Pie

This gift of inventing holidays has a lot, I generally think, to do with the open-mindedness and joyfulness of my friends to indulge my flights of fancy. I’m hardly the only person on the block to have a traditional celebration. Around here, we also celebrate Oktoberfest and Vinterfest and other shared joys.

But what made me realize that this was, perhaps, my calling in life was when I managed to invent a holiday at work. Now, I didn’t do this on purpose (and I can’t go into too many details). But a while back I invited some colleagues to join me in an activity on International Women’s Day. And I gave it one of those great trademark Brenda names. (Eg. a cross between lame, descriptive and memorable.) I had no thought of making it an annual holiday, just like Piemas. But a goodly number of people asked me very politely (and persistently) if we could please do it again. So we just celebrated this last week, from the least to the greatest of us, and I realized. This is now a *thing*, with a tradition, and set of rules and memory of past celebrations. People refer to it by name, and look forward to it, and are joyful when it comes. All I had to do this year was set the date, invite people, and they came gladly and with alacrity with their offerings, like a joyful potluck. You know, like Piemas. Or Mocksgiving.

There are so many people in this world that our niches of uniqueness become ever more granular. I’m willing to share space with the rest of the world and the things that make other special. But I like being the person who creates the joyful holiday. I think I’ll lean into that one.

What about you? What have you discovered you somehow end up doing over and over? Are you a person who knows what they want to do and who they want to be, and does it? Do you have any holidays of your own creation?

April Fools!

The mad prankster strikes again!

I woke up this morning to find this menacing visage staring back from my erstwhile toothpaste-smile-free bathroom mirror. Of course, this morning I woke up with a certain alacrity usually missing from my morning hours. A door burst open, shedding light into the snoozy darkness of our bedroom. “Mom! Dad! It’s 9 am!” Adam and I immediately levitated two feet above the sheets and initiated a midair synchronized panic – one of the rarest forms. “April fooooools!”

He was permitted to live because it was 6:58 am and we were getting up in 2 minutes anyway. Plus, this kind of thing is good for the heart, right?

Downstairs for a good ol’ bowl of cereal in purple milk (my contribution). In the car on the way to school, my usually suave second grader effused, “April Fools day is my favorite holiday! It’s just a day of cheerfulness and energy and good fun!” I have to agree with him. We are now in the apex, the absolute height of April foolishness. My guitar was mistuned. Many long discussions happened about what the best “alternative” filling for an Oreo would be. (Mayonnaise? Avoid cookies in our house this time of year.) Some prankster *ripped a hole* in the sheet of toilet paper to be used next. THE HORRORS!

Google joined in the fun, as it so often does, inviting me to enhance my gmail experience with Shelfies. I sadly didn’t listen to NPR, so I didn’t get a chance to be completely taken in like I was with the epic “Coffee Pipeline” debacle. I have personally retired from the trade after my epic accomplishments in the “It’s twins” announcement when I was pregnant with Grey.

I’ll second Grey’s notion – I love April Fool’s day too.

So, what about you? Did you get any great ones off today? Do you love it, or do you find it, well, foolish? What’s the best prank you’ve ever been part of, as pranker or prankee? And why does such a non-commercial holiday persist in our culture?