My friends, I am enervated.
Summer has passed us by with nought but a hint of decent weather. Being the cave rat I am, I don’t often see sunlight anyway, but it’s nice to know it’s there – and this year it just wasn’t. I just had to replace a very expensive computer, the price of which has crippled my ability to enjoy the things that make life worth living (i.e. music equipment, morning coffees and top-shelf vodka) and apparently the Windows 7 beta doesn’t feature a driver for my particular brand of wireless, so I’m being forced to carry around twenty feet of ethernet cable wherever I go until Bill Gates gets his shit together. And to top it all off, I lost my hundred-dollar transit pass last night, just two weeks into the month.
To put it lightly, I’ve had better days. This is probably the first time in a very long time I’ve ever longed for a vacation, which (in my characteristically smooth and self-referential way) leads me to the point of my article today.
I’ve never understood why we have as many holidays as we do. Generally speaking, I don’t like holidays.
I know what you’re thinking. “Shut up Alex, you ruggedly-handsome-and-charismatic workaholic; you’ll set a precedent the rest of us can’t live up to!” And yes, you’d be right – I probably do work harder in my chosen field than most people (all for you, dear readers). But frankly I’d rather be working than pissing away the pittance The Fixer pays me on cheap whiskey and other boredom quick-fixes. I’m just wired that way: if I’m not constantly stimulated I get bored, my mind gets flaccid and my gut expands. Holidays, for this reason, suck.
Of course, a lot of people hate their jobs. And frankly, I don’t blame them; all those people rotting away in cubicles from nine to five, doing meaningless tasks, filing reports, drinking bad coffee and reading stupid opinion blogs on the internet to keep from contemplating suicide. I was out for a smoke with Jeff at Keep Your Coins this morning, and he mentioned a study he’d read (which I managed to locate) that suggested almost nine million Americans drink at work. With the kind of jobs people are forced to do just to be afforded the privilege (and don’t kid yourself, it’s a privilege) of eating and having a roof over their heads, I’m actually surprised the number isn’t higher.
So I guess for those people, holidays make sense. But do we really need to have so many of them?
Here’s the list of statutory (i.e. nobody has to work) holidays in Ontario.
Jan 1 – New Years Day
Feb 16 – Family Day
Apr 10 – Good Friday
Apr 13 – Easter Monday
May 18 – Victoria Day
Jul 1 – Canada Day
Aug 3 – Civic Holiday
Sept 7 – Labour Day
Oct 12 – Thanksgiving
Dec 25 – Christmas Day
Dec 26 – Boxing Day
So let’s milk it, shall we?
First on the docket: New Years Day. I have a fondness for New Years – a lot of people say it’s the perfect time to revamp your life, set new goals, et cetera, but I think it’s just like St. Patrick’s Day, except with fewer obnoxious faux-Irish accents and you actually get the next day off. That, and there’s more chance of snagging a New Years kiss – you might get something like that on St. Pat’s, but it usually winds up requiring a bottle of antibiotics. But thanks to my close relationship with the drinking culture, New Years gets a pass.
Family Day. Great googly-moogly. Dalton McGuinty should be lynched for coming up with this farce. Nobody spends Family Day with their families, and you know why? Because there’s nothing to do. Everything is closed, up to and including the Liquor Store, which is – to be fair – a necessary part of any James family gathering. According to the Ministry of Labour’s website, this inexplicable day off during the worst weather of the year is to accommodate the fact that “Ontarians work very hard…the time between New Years and Easter is long and people need a rest.”
Oh give me a goddamned break. Is the time between New Years and Easter long? Yeah, it’s about four months. It also encompasses what is, for me at least, the most depressing time of year mostly due to the shitty weather (which is why I definitely want a day off during that time to sit in my room looking out the window at grey sky, grey leafless trees and brown snow, drink myself into a stupor and cry myself to sleep). But “people need a rest”? Okay, if your job is to get the shit kicked out of you by autistic teenagers all day long, like one friend of mine, then you’ve got a case. But if you’re sitting on your ass in a super-lighted office all day, picking your nose with a paper clip and pretending to file TPS reports while surfing Facebook and posting libellous statements about your boss which will inevitably get you fired, then suck it up, stop acting like a pussy and get back to work. The rest of us do; you should too.
Okay, okay, the parents are going to get up in arms about this, because I’ve heard the rumour about how parents like to spend time with their kids. But chances are, your kids don’t want to spend time with you. They’d rather play Xbox and drink sugar and surf the internet for FAQs on ways to annoy crotchety blog writers. Bottom line: Family Day doesn’t make the grade. Cut.
Good Friday / Easter Monday: this one gets lumped, because it’s all part of the same comeback story. JC, alleged son of the Christian God (with a capital “G”), gets nailed to a tree by a bunch of people far less cool than him, dies horribly, only to resurrect himself a few days later and discover he’s been sealed in a cave. Using whatever superpowers his illustrious father granted him, he heaves the big-ass rock away from the cave door and launches himself into the sky, headed for Heaven, with the promise to come back someday to lay the smack-down on the sinners whilst ushering the more fortunate to their new digs inside the Pearly Gates.
Cute story, and despite not being a Christian I actually think rather highly of Jesus, so I’m tempted to give this one a pass. However, in my experience, Easter weekend turns into a four-day debacle involving tedious family obligations most of which I’ve no desire to attend, far too much rich food I can’t digest, at least one mandatory argument between family members resulting in shattered glass, and the stupid fucking Superbowl. I hate football, and I really hate the fact that I have to take two days off work, unpaid, so somebody else can observe their religious beliefs. Cut.
Victoria Day. Quick poll – everybody knows that Queen Victoria was, well, a queen. Can anybody tell me anything she ever did, apart from being born into a family of inbred bluebloods thousands of miles away from this country, even remotely noteworthy? At all? Ever? I’ll wait.
Here’s the second part of the quiz. Can anybody tell me the colloquial, much more common name under which we know this holiday? Don’t all raise your hands at once, you’re all correct. It’s May 2-4. Anybody know why? Right again – it’s the holiday where we don’t even bother paying lip service to some dead queen’s birthday apart from the fireworks (and I’d like to extend a special thank-you to all the drunken assholes of the Toronto area who figure apartment complexes and residential streets are a good place to set up your own personal Symphony of Fire – I didn’t need those windows anyway); instead we spend our time getting shittered on somebody’s balcony our out in public on patios. And that’s just fine with me. Pass.
Canada Day: I’m not really one for the whole “national pride” thing, but if every other country gets to do it, why not little old Canada? I really hate nationalism, especially when it’s of the obnoxious American variety (America, Fuck No), but Canadian national pride tends to be a little more understated, so I’ll let this one go too.
Civic Holiday: It’s in August, the weather is typically good, and the O.P.P. cleans up on drunk drivers all weekend long. But there are cottagers, tourists all over my city, and I’m not a fan of August heat. Furthermore, this holiday has the distinction of being the only one on this list that isn’t a statutory holiday – it’s typically only observed by government employees. Like these people don’t have enough perks as it is? Cut.
Labour Day: This one is kind of interesting, actually. It has its roots, unsurprisingly, in labour unions – the first official Labour Day was back in 1872, the date of a showdown between police and members of the 27 unions of the Toronto Trade Assembly (TTA), who had staged a parade in support of the Typographical Union’s strike. As a result of the pressure put on Sir John A. Macdonald’s government, the anti-union laws (which had since been abolished in Great Britain) were repealed in Canada as well.
So it’s a holiday that makes sense. It’s also one of a very few holidays in Canada to feature a parade, and what an odd parade it is. There’s little fanfare, no real floats to speak of, no bands, and no sickly-sweet commentators to fuck up everyone’s day. It’s just a chance for some of the unions we tend to take for granted to get out in the public and remind people what it is they actually do. One of my correspondents in the field snapped these pictures of the Power Workers Union taking part in the parade; they’re in the middle of working through a new energy plan with the provincial government, so it’s definitely worth it for them to be in the public eye as much as possible.
I consider myself a freelancer by trade, so union politics aren’t really my forte, but I kind of dig the day-before-school vibe of this holiday, so it can stay.
Thanksgiving. More football, and turkey. This is basically Easter: The Fall Edition, without the religious overtones. Also – pilgrims, Natives, syphilis. Need I say more? Cut.
Christmas Day: I can’t cut Christmas; I just can’t do it. Despite the fact that it seems to start earlier and earlier every year (I’m saving my full Christmas rant for the festive season) and I did cut Easter, there’s just too much wrapped up in that season for me to justify cutting it. That, and I don’t want a bunch of furious Christians showing up at my door with a very special Easter-edition Christmas tree cut to just the right height. I take some issue with the religious undertones of this holiday as much as I did with Easter, but Christmas is engrained in mainstream culture to the point where cutting it would make me out to be some weirdo uber-PC hippie who is offended by everything. And I`m offended by them, so it stays.
Boxing Day: Normally I would be opposed to such blatant consumerist bullshit the day after the greatest consumer shit festival in the history of modern civilization finally ended, but I tend to have a little more egg nog than is really good for me on Christmas, so I can definitely use the day after to recover. Boxing Day gets a pass too.
So the final tally is:
For the “pass” category: New Years, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas/Boxing Day.
In the “cut” pile: Family Day, Good Friday/Easter, Civic Holiday and Thanksgiving.
Personally, I think five holidays a year (especially considering how many of them are motivated by avoiding hangovers) is more than enough.
How do I rank up against your standards? Respond in the comment section. Feel free to tell me I’m a workaholic, a drunk, or both.
In the meantime, I’m going to embark on what is destined to be a very, very long walk home, unless the lunch money I invested in a ProLine ticket pays off. Yes, I gambled away my last three dollars on the off chance I might get a thirty-dollar windfall. Sue me. On the other hand, don’t – I’m still paying off this computer.