I like to think of Feb-roo-airy as the next big holiday season.

 

We’re talking about a month that starts off with Punxsutawney Phil and ends with Sadie Hawkins.  And in-between, a plethora of holidays and party opportunities too big for even one of the thirty-one-day behemoths like August.  

February is a happy, lyrical  little month.  We’re into the flow of winter.  We’ve honed our winter choices.  Selected the equipment.  We’re on the slightly warmer side of winter, not yet whining about spring.  We’ve got the eggnog out of our systems. Finished the last round of January antibiotics.

February, once past the spelling, is the very epitome of short and sweet.  And the needed filling between the lame, white bread  months of January and March.

February’s holidays fall into four categories:  political, emotional, religious and environmental.

I like to get my politics out on the table, so we’ll start there.  When I was a kid we had two days off school.  Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday. On the twelfth we wore long black beards, top hats, turned off all the lights for reading, allowed no one to wait on us and never, never told a lie.  On the twenty-second we put wooden caps on our teeth, ate cherry pie, talcum powdered our heads and went to the nearest river and attempted to wing an abundance of fifty cent pieces across.  We understood the heart and soul of these heroes of history that lived a century apart and were proud to celebrate their days of birth.   Now we’ve been reduced to one celebratory day in the middle. What kind of milquetoast, committee decision was that?  It’s like my mother saying, “Mary we’ve decided to celebrate your great, great grandmother’s birthday and yours together this year.  She was born on the first and you on the ninth so we’ll celebrate on the fifth.”   Right.  Plus, if we’re going to call it President’s Day, on some date that’s nobody’s birthday, let’s throw in all the presidents- Buchanan, Coolidge, Fillmore and really water it down.

Category two, emotion, covers Valentine’s Day and Sadie Hawkins Day.   

Now Valentine’s Day is a holiday you’re either hot or cold on.  It boasts the highest number of recorded breakups as well as proposals.  Go figure.  I’ve always had a lot of fun with this one.  When I was in college, I had a major valentine contest with my roommate Mary.  Twenty points for florist-delivered flowers; no carnations. Ten if he was too cheap and brought them himself. Five for candy other than Russell Stover.  Cards, two apiece.  Call, one. Love poem, minus fifteen.  Now I was pinned at the time to a guy with a LeMans convertible.  I had to keep calling him for supplementary deliveries.  I knew he could handle it with the convertible and all. My roommate was unattached and scoured the campus talking anyone that breathed into sending Valentine booty for big returns later. My boyfriend eventually ran out of gas and she won.

Sadie Hawkins, an old Li’l Abner character, rolls around every four years.  I’m not sure where we are in that cycle, but she appears when we have a twenty-ninth, and women can ask men to dance, date or marry.  We always had a Sadie Hawkins dance in high school.  Highest annual attendance. To be expected.  Women being the bold, pushy characters we are; men the putty we know them to be.

Religion.  Feb’s a hotbed.  Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Mardi Gras.  Of all these, Ash Wednesday really sticks in my memory.  Once a year our little farm town of Fort Plain, New York looked like Delhi meets Deere.  Kids would leave school with their moms and come back with a prominent charcoal smudge on their forehead. Everyone walked around with a big smudge.  People actually flaunted these smudges. Spent more time in town. Being a Protestant I was intensely jealous.  Happens a lot to Protestants.  

I’ve categorized Ground Hog Day as environmental.  A little weather. A little geometry. And a bit animal rights.  With film crews from around the globe this poor hibernating creature has to get up, crawl into the minus minus of a mid-Pennsylvania dawn, have the wherewithal to say a few engaging snarfs, stare into the sun and decide our seasonal fate for the next six weeks. Talk about REM shock. Nonetheless, taking every opportunity for  celebration, on Groundhog morning, I wake my husband at sunrise and have him go out on the front lawn to do our own shadow test. This is followed by a wild game breakfast; muffs for gifts.  

Feb-roo-airy.  If you’ve taken it for granted, I hope this has given you pause.   And, although you’ve missed Groundhog Day, opportunities abound for learning the marimba before Mardi Gras, Ravel’s “Bolero” before Valentine’s Day and mastering the preamble to the Constitution before no ones’ birthday on the 17th.

Party on, it’s the Age of Aquarius.  But beware.  The Ides of March are just around the corner.

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