Oh, as holidays go, Groundhog Day ain’t much.
Oh, there’s pretty good eponymous rom-com. And it does get reasonably good coverage, especially when compared to other second and third tier holidays, like Arbor Day.
But there are no decorations. No special dishes. No baking. No card sending. No gift buying. No traditional outfits. No songs. No White Christmas. No Over the River and Through the Woods. No In Your Easter Bonnet. No family gatherings. No day off. No feel-good volunteering. No extra charitable donations.
Much of this is a good thing. Sure, it would be nice to have a song or two, but it’s a relief that there’s no pressure to decorate, buy, send, bake, and sing.
Still, it’s such a fun little nothing of a holiday, especially in places that tend to have pretty nasty winters.
I can never remember which way it goes. Is Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow a good thing or a bad thing?
Just checked: seeing his shadow is a good thing. Six more weeks of winter. Seeing his shadow: winter ad infinitum.
In truth, whatever the outcome, it’s largely psychological. A reminder, whatever the outcome, that there is an end in sight. And spring will be sprung on us pretty soon.
Not that we can’t have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad February.(Next week we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Blizzard of 78.) Ditto for March. (Back in the day, we could pretty much count on at least one snow day in that month – that beautiful radio announcement: No school, all schools. Worcester Public and Parochial.)
In any case, there’s something about February that gladdens the heart.
It’s lighter later, which is a really big deal if you live on the eastern margins of a time zone. It just feels great to be out there walking around after five, and it’s still light out.
Sure, it’ll snow, but the snow disappears faster. And we get a couple of days when you can actually smell spring.
Sure, it can be plenty cold in February, but February usually means a couple of days when, if not exactly sweater-weather, you can walk around with your coat unzipped and gloves off. And in February, you may see a crocus start to nudge its way up from under.
February means truck day, when the equipment truck leaves Fenway Park, heading for Spring Training in Ft. Myers, Florida. (It may seem heretical to be focused on baseball when the local football franchise is in the Super Bowl, but baseball is, well, baseball.)
February means it’s okay to start thinking about ordering spring and summer clothing from the LL Bean catalog, even if you’re not going anyplace warm for a while.(You are, after all, totally and absolutely bored with your winter sweaters.)
When you’re a kid around here, February means a week off for Presidents’ Day. (And despite the current sorry-arsed incumbent, Presidents’ Day is a good thing, and gives us a moment to reflect on the good fortune of having had a plenty of mediocrities but a few greats as well in that office. And pretty much only one who’s terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad. Lucky us!)
And although I don’t have a valentine to call my own, I’ve always kind of liked Valentine’s Day, which does have an excellent song to go with it, My Funny Valentine, which comes from one of the musicals my husband and I liked best, “Pal Joey.”
I like February, and pretty much always have. Even though I lost my husband in February, my affection for this excellent and weird (think Leap Year) little month has held steady since I was a kid.
And Groundhog Day is one of the things that I enjoy about February.
Happy Groundhog Day.
To Punxsutawney Phil, whether you see your shadow or not: you da man. Thanks for kicking the month off.