A wish for 2017: We will all try to do our best

Friday, December 30, 2016

Boy, is this confusing.

I'm writing this column on Monday morning. I usually write on Tuesday mornings.

Christmas was Sunday, but much of the secular world is observing the holiday today, on Monday.

Routines and chores I normally do on Mondays have been canceled or rearranged.

The Southeast Missourian's Sunday edition was delivered on Saturday. This schedule will repeat for New Year's weekend.

Is this confusing to you, too?

Looking back at the 2016 calendar, I can spot some signs that everything would be thrown out of whack. Look at February. Look at the number 29. There's clue No. 1 right there. Any year when February has more than 28 days you can expect strange things to happen.

Which is how a lot of folks are explaining this year's presidential election.

Something else has tipped our kilter a bit. The federal government, in its wisdom and benevolence, has decided that most major holidays, regardless of when they actually occur, will be observed on Mondays. This is supposed to be an advantage for working Americans so they can enjoy a three-day weekend.

OK. Let me explain something here. I worked for newspapers for nearly half a century. I never had a three-day weekend where I didn't have to do whatever it takes to put out yet another edition of a daily newspaper. It's not like no-gooders armed with 2-by-4s and doused in gasoline strictly observed the official federal holiday schedule. Nope. The newspaper had to go out with news in it. On schedule. So I worked on weekends a lot. I didn't mind. Every two weeks or so some nice people would hand me a check. I thought my weekends were a fair trade for a bank deposit slip.

Generally, the feds don't muck around with a couple of holidays. Like Thanksgiving. It's still always on a Thursday. Moving it to Monday presents some special concerns. For example, Black Friday would become Black Tuesday. But in those years when Thanksgiving seems to come too close to Christmas to suit retail sales goals, having Thanksgiving on Monday means you could move it to whenever works best.

Or maybe not.

One thing that bothers me, I will confess, is the federal predilection for willy-nilly scheduling of birthdays that also are major holidays. Or used to be. Our Washington's Birthday celebration is never on his birthday anniversary. Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. and Chris Columbus are treated the same way. So maybe there is ample precedent for moving Jesus' birthday to the fourth Monday of December, or whatever.

A lot of you are looking at the calendar this week and wondering what kind of year 2017 will be. I can pretty much tell you: It will look a lot like any other year, except February will have only 28 days. Make of that what you will. It could be important. Or not.

Whatever 2017 turns out to be will depend, in large part, on what we -- all of us -- are willing to do to make it productive and memorable in the most positive way. Don't give in to the naysayers and phony-baloneys who try, year after year, to pull all the strings. We are not puppets. We have brains. Let's use them. For good.

So, that's my wish for New Year 2017: that we will all strive to do the very best we can. It sounds trite, doesn't it? Can you think of something better?

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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