View from US: Work, eat and celebrate
How many Pakistanis plan their lives around a palooza, the slang for celebration? Okay, if some do, name the number of events they celebrate. Can one honestly claim that women, children and the old are equal revellers in these festivities? Other than the two Eids, celebrations, if any, are the preserve of males.
Arguably life sans an outside stimulus is an existence cold, colourless and yawning. But man is born to love, not hate. The TLC (tender love & care) that every mother unconditionally showers need not end in adult life if threaded into serendipity, excitement and celebration. One can safely assert that Americans are palooza-programmed people. Like the evergreens, they thrive on oxygen-induced rejuvenation, even if it is about the Muppets of Sesame Street.
Recently, Elmopalooza, a musical, celebrated the 30th anniversary of this adorable TV series many will recall growing up with.
The American beauty of joy and celebration is all-inclusive. It pulls in children, adults and seniors; it is not gender-biased nor class conscious. It is timeless passing on from generation to generation.
Americans time their vacations, celebrations, family trips, socialising, lunch and dinner parties around a holiday planner with time and date determined a year ahead. And to make doubly sure that the plan does not change, Americans freely use ‘Save this date’ cards mailed out to friends and family, announcing the date, time and the programme planned well ahead. A formal card follows a few weeks later.
Even if it be an egg hunt! Never undervalue the Easter bunny. Did you know that 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are produced each year? Easter is the second-most important candy-consuming occasion after Halloween. Easter Sunday is the greatest feast of Christians celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Last year Americans ate seven billion pounds of candy, reports the National Confectioner’s Association. It cost them a couple of billions.
Americans mark their monthly calendars for celebration around the year. And here comes the first weekend holiday called the Martin Luther King Day. It is always celebrated on the third Monday of January. And before you can say ‘Jack Robinson,’ the stores and shopping malls sizzle with cards made of red hearts, chocolates and red roses reminding you that Valentine’s Day is not far, even though the cruelty of winter in February is at its peak. Americans step up to the plate, open up their hearts and wallets, shop for gifts to give to their loved ones. They have done it since 1840s!
A week later is the President’s Day weekend. It’s to honour the birth of George Washington, the first president of the US. People take off on a mini-vacation or visit families. On May’s second Sunday, mothers around America wake up to being the centre of the universe… they are greeted, feted and appreciated by their children, no matter how old. Mother’s Day became an institution in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson decreed that a day should be set aside to recognise the sacrifices and love of a mother.
On the last weekend of May comes Memorial Day with a bang! The sales in the stores are mind-blowing. Swimming pools are officially opened announcing the the start of summer. The significance of this weekend holiday is to honour the American dead of all wars. People fly flags to show their patriotism.
On the third Sunday of June comes trotting Father’s Day. It lacks the spirit, zest and lustre Americans sprinkle on their mothers! Besides, I don’t think fathers like being fussed around too much or being kissed and coddled. Or do they?
July 4, the Independence Day, that’s a show stopper! Come September, and its first Monday weekend is Labour Day, another landmark for to-die-for sales. Also the nip in the air reminds one of autumn’s arrival and a new school year. October’s second Monday weekend celebrates Columbus Day with the Italian-Americans out in full regalia celebrating the discovery of the New World (US) by their fellow Italian Christopher Columbus. When Halloween comes on the last day of October, it is already very cold and the leaves have turned colour.
It’s the Thanksgiving Day that holds the highest place after Christmas. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans make it a point to be with family on this day of roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Families hold hands to say grace and thank the Lord for providing food on the table before the feast. It is a fun-filled three-day holiday where the ‘early bird specials’ gets the best deals.
To follow are Christmas and New Year’s. Life is one big party and Americans are on a roll. Wish I could say the same for Pakistanis!