Point of No Return — Theme days and months are great — up to a point
Well, happy Small Monkey Thursday. Or, Take Out the Trash Friday. Or, Squish Mud Between Your Toes Sunday. Or, whatever day you happen to be reading this article.
After Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, I figure all bets are off on how long this parade of theme-days will continue. I realize that the day after Thanksgiving was always the traditional checkered flag to the start of the holiday buying season, but I seem to remember as a kid going to the mall the day after Turkey Day to see the big guy in the red suit and telling him all the cool stuff I was hoping he could shove in his sack for me on Christmas Eve.
Now people head to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving to participate in a Hunger Games-style fight to the death to try to buy a 238-inch television for $79.99.
I’m a capitalist with every fiber of my being, and it doesn’t really bother me when days are designated as specific shopping days if it will increase business. And, as a small-business owner, I love the idea of Small Business Saturday — so much so that I believe it should be repeated once a month as a way of celebrating entrepeneurship in our country.
To go further with the concept, I also don’t have a problem with any of the other shopping days immediately after Thanksgiving. It is a way to build momentum for what is the most important time of the year for our retail industry, and people are going to be buying a ton of stuff anyway, so why not give them a deal while promoting different sectors of the industry along the way? This is win-win in nearly every possible way.
That being said, it is getting difficult to keep up with theme days and months. I remember February being Black History Month when I was growing up, and it was a great way for kids to learn about the contributions of Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and George Washington Carver, along with many others. In later years, I remember October being clearly identified as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I’ve always enjoyed when NFL players wear their pink on the field in honor of that tremendous effort.
A quick entry into my Google machine tells me that January is now International Creativity Month, Mental Wellness Month, National Mentoring Month, Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month and Stalking Awareness Month.
There isn’t a bad cause in that bunch, but does the message of each respective issue get lost in the traffic of all the others? Is it time to start dedicating weeks to these causes instead of months?
February is our shortest month of the year, but besides Black History Month, we also celebrate American Heart Month, Gang Prevention Awareness Month, Oral Hygiene Awareness Month, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Eating Disorder Awareness Month, Turner Syndrome Awareness Month and Cholangiocarcinoma Awareness Month.
March brings me St. Patrick’s Day, and the accompanying unofficial March 18 Day of Silence holiday that follows it each year in my home, but it also features Adolescent Self-Injury Awareness Month, National Athletic Training Month, International Black Women in Jazz & The Arts Month, Brain Injury Awareness Month, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, National Disabilities Month, Endometriosis Month, Hexagonal Awareness Month, National Music in Our Schools Month, National Nutrition Month, National Social Work Month, Women’s History Month, Youth Art Month and National Cheerleading Safety Awareness Month.
Skipping ahead to August, which, by the way, should always be referred to as Darin McCann’s Birthday Month for generations to follow, I see that it is National Sales Enablement Month, National Immunization Awareness Month and National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. I also see that it is National Hair Loss Awareness Month, but I think that is just a way of celebrating my birth without hurting other people’s feelings (ahem, Susan Lyons) for not being recognized as August babies, as well.
And, yes, I get that many people do lose their hair because of serious health reasons. Put down your crayons, and save yourself the aggravation of writing me a letter. I was making a joke at the expense of my friend. Take a breath.
October, by the way, has 40 causes that I could find, which is somewhat staggering when one considers there are only 31 days in the month, leaving each of these causes to really get only 18.6 hours of recognition, all things being equal.
There are no bad causes listed above, nor are there in the months that I just couldn’t fit in this space. But I fear that we are overloading ourselves on theme months, and selling short some causes that really do need attention by just slapping their name on a calendar and moving on with our lives.
Awareness is important, in terms of raising money and convincing people to get screened or tested, or simply learn their history. I just worry that messages get lost in the traffic.