Columbus Day--This used to be a big day when I was in grade school. I remember all the build-up to the holiday, (which back then was celebrated on the actual day, not when it was convenient,) as my teachers would always try to bring whatever topic they were talking about back to Columbus and how he was the first person to discover America. The math teacher had us try to figure out the nautical miles he sailed, the English teacher had us write reports on him, the science teacher tried to teach us about the animals he might have seen. When I was young, I swallowed what I was taught and didn't think anything of it, like whether it was true or not.
As an adult, having lived in Mexico, studied foreign cultures, and read more books than I can count, I see how biased those early history lessons truly were and it often makes me wonder what other historical facts I learned as a child that really are not accurate. It's kind of sad, really, that history is so distorted, that people find the need to write down events not as they happened, but in a way that makes themselves or some important person of the time look better than he/she is or was.
When I think about it, I realize most holidays in the United States have moved so far beyond their original intent that it's difficult to fathom what the origins of a particular day actually were. Halloween, soon to arrive, seems to be nothing but a means to sell tons and tons of candy to people who are already overweight and certainly don't need the added calories all that white sugar and chemicals will dump into their systems. Thanksgiving is swallowed up in the pre-Christmas rush of buy, buy, buy...all those sales lead into the Christmas season, if there is such a thing now as some stores already have Christmas items for sale even though it's October. The Christmas of today seems nothing but a commercial attempt to get more and more items onto the shelves and off again and into the households of consumers as rapidly as possible.
Yes, I'm being cynical; perhaps because of the books I've been reading lately, perhaps because my birthday grows closer and I wonder sometimes why we bother with all the rush and bustle. Take today; it's a holiday for some, a work day for others. I worked this morning, editing a manuscript, then spent a couple of hours after lunch picking up firewood from our little piece of woods. Although it is cloudy out, and there are these really annoying clouds of gnats around, it was pleasant to scuff through the dry leaves that have fallen from the maples and birch and pick up logs and chuck them into the pick-up truck. It was productive, energizing work, and probably closer to something Columbus or the Indians he "discovered" might have done on this day hundreds of years ago than run to the nearest mall and buy something on sale.
Well, enough of being critical, this holiday like many others has morphed into something quite different than it was forty, fifty, a hundred years ago, and that's not necessarily going to change anytime soon. I do wonder what the history books of a hundred years from now will write about this period of time, though.
About Ditched the Niche
One woman's perspective on