Community columnist: We’re losing sight of the meaning of ‘holiday’

columns@modbee.comJuly 8, 2014 

July Fourth at 6:45 a.m., a local pool company rolls up to install a pool in a neighbor’s backyard. Yes. You read that right. July Fourth. A federal holiday. When we’re allegedly supposed to be celebrating our nation’s birthday.

Of course, the pool company is not unique. All week long, retailers proudly announced they would be open on July Fourth, many into the evening hours. The motivation is all the same – money. Eking out as many dollars as possible, with no consideration for their employees or the concept of patriotism. Let’s skip the fact that maybe their employees would enjoy having the opportunity to relax, and celebrate with friends or family, instead of being held hostage to their jobs.

And before you say, “some may have chosen to work,” may I point out that given the wages of most retail workers, that choice is one of financial practicality vs. desire. More likely, it is a corporate mandate. If the store is open, somebody has to work. But I can assure you that high-ranking corporate managers are not in their offices on July Fourth.

In California, many people seemed to have become so addicted to 24/7 convenience, they’re willing to sacrifice holidays to getting what they want – regardless of the impact on others. It’s not like this all over the country. In Massachusetts, most stores are closed – and many companies actually closed a day early. In the countries where I’ve traveled in Europe, Sunday is a day off (gasp, what a concept), and except for a kiosk or two, shops are closed on national holidays.

Holiday after holiday is being sacrificed on the commercial altar. A holiday is no longer about appreciating and celebrating, but “getting things done.” Sadly, when commercialism trumps holidays, people lose sight of the reason the holiday was originally established – and the importance of valuing that day. Instead, it becomes a day for people to have providers come work on their houses, or to go shopping as retailers shriek about “the lowest prices of the season.”

Have people’s lives become so arid and empty, that their only solace is to nurse at the retail teat for a sense of fulfillment?

Think on it – how many of you really know the reasons behind Labor and Memorial days? Do any of you remember Arbor Day? Or when there was no Presidents Day, but rather we honored Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays on different days in recognition of their importance. Do you remember when a holiday actually fell on the date it was originally set – such as Veterans Day – instead of being moved to create a long weekend to accommodate commercialism? Holidays have all been watered down to be little more than a day off – and only if you’re lucky.

As I write, equipment is clanking and rumbling all around and the pool plasterer’s truck is roaring outside, its dust dimming the colors on the flags some have hung in honor of the holiday. Our neighborhood has been disrupted by a company more concerned about making money and homeowners not considerate of their neighbors, because after all, it’s just another day, right?

Happy belated July Fourth, California. You need to get your priorities straight!

Newcorn is a marketing consultant, author and freelance writer. Send comments or questions to

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