First of all, let me be perfectly clear about one thing – days set aside to create awareness of any important issue serve a valuable purpose. After all, educating people is the first step in working towards better understanding and, possibly, a solution.
But lately it seems that virtually every day of the year has been designated (many of these unofficially but swamping the internet and Facebook nevertheless) as an occasion to observe some group of people or some cause. And, honestly, it is becoming too much.
What began with good intentions for many worthwhile campaigns, has now turned into a platform for personal promotion and plain old silliness.
There are days to acknowledge almost every profession or trade, siblings, cousins, puppies, and even rats. (I kid you not.) But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. How about a Talk like a Pirate Day, Ice-cream Day, or Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day? And if a mere day is not enough, there is National Popcorn Month and Toilet Tank Repair Month. (Honestly, I am not making this stuff up.)
Granted, many of these days originate in the USA, but we Canadians are quick to jump on the bandwagon.
As a grandparent, I may think that a day to honour grandparents is rather sweet, but sweeter still is a hug or a visit from my grandchildren at any time. And I’m happy that they don’t need a special day to do so. (And Hallmark doesn’t need an excuse to sell more expensive cards.)
As a former educator, I always considered Teacher Appreciation Week a thoughtful gesture. But having a parent thank me personally or a student write me a note of thanks, meant so much more.
Much like the storybook boy who called, “Wolf!” too often, thus rendering his authentic pleas ineffective, I worry we are doing the same to designated days. It’s a shame because what started with the best of intentions is now ending up like so much water off a duck’s back. (Who knows, there’s probably a day for that too!)
But the real burning question is, “Are we taking the easy way out when it comes to supporting a cause, thinking we have done our part because we click like, share a page, or wear the appropriately-coloured tee shirt?”
Meaningful change does not come about with a one-day commitment. It is a result of hard work, time, commitment, and resources. A bumper sticker approach simply is not enough.
The same is true when it comes to showing appreciation for our family, friends, colleagues, and community workers. We need to show gratitude on a regular basis, and we need to do so in meaningful ways.
If we learn to do that, then maybe we won’t need designated days.