Holiday madness Featured

9:54am EDT July 22, 2002

By the time you read this, I suspect you will be either looking forward to a relaxing Independence Day weekend or you will have already enjoyed the sun, surf, fireworks, fairways, lounging in the hammock or whatever it is that you like to do on summer holidays.

Sadly, the meaning of Independence Day, like that of a lot of our national holidays, seems to have wilted in these fast-paced times. Our summer holidays have turned into an excuse for long, indulgent weekends, with multiple opportunities for insect bites, sunburn and food poisoning.

I don’t know too many people who pause to ponder the greater meaning of the celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. My guess is that many would have trouble distinguishing it from the Constitution, the Magna Carta or Mark McGwire’s contract.

Memorial Day is simply the beginning of summer, Labor Day its end. Others pass with little thought given by most to their purpose. The demise of the spirit of Christmas, of course, is widely acknowledged and bemoaned. Thanksgiving is just another day when we eat too much.

Maybe a step in the right direction would be to infuse our holidays with some new meaning. Since commercialism has sapped the meaning from these celebrations, perhaps the antidote is to inject our culture with a shot of a different kind of commercialism. I propose that we add some new holidays to the calendar, ones that we can embrace with authentic feeling.

These holidays would be designed to celebrate the desires of business people to free themselves from the shackles that hold them in bondage. What better way to celebrate than with holidays that reflect with accuracy a culture of commerce?

Here are a few suggestions that you might want to ponder:

Bill Gates Independence Day — Linux parties would be the typical celebration, with business people soaking their copies of Windows in lighter fluid and burning them along with the hamburgers. Suggested attire includes designer pocket protectors, thick-rimmed glasses, taped at the nosepiece and Netscape T-shirts.

Cash Flow Freedom Week — Your bank credits all checks to your account immediately, even those drawn on off-shore institutions. You get an extra five days of float on your money.

Automated Phone Systems Hate Day — All public and private entities would be encouraged to have a human being answer all incoming business-to-business phone calls.

Human Resources Freedom Day — Your employees would be forbidden to create any H.R. hassles. No requests for family leave, time off or sick days would be honored.

Y2K Day — A solemn occasion, when business people will gather to commiserate over the cost and confusion that has been caused by the Year 2000 issue. The day will be marked by contemplative readings of computer code that has been cleansed of the bug.

No-Cell-Phone Day — All cell phones would be left at the receptionist’s desk to avoid interruptions during meetings. Fines would be imposed on those who answer calls during lunch.

Cancel-All-Meetings Day — Conference rooms would be locked. No more than one person in an office or cubicle during working hours.

Message Amnesty Day — No-guilt elimination of messages of all kinds. No obligation to answer those calls from irritating clients or sales people.

Chapter 7-11 Day — A time to solemnly reflect on the many ventures that have plunged into reorganization or liquidation.

Alan Greenspan Day — Seminars and conferences held to analyze the cryptic pronouncements of the Fed chairman.

I’d like to hear your suggestions for things that deserve a day of observance. If I get enough to fill this space next month, I’ll be able to take a day off and won’t have to tax my brain to come up with an idea for my column until September. And that’s the most meaningful kind of holiday for me. Ray Marano is associate editor of SBN — when he’s not taking another of his self-proclaimed holidays.