Generally speaking, and who speaks generally anymore these days, I am not much of a holiday fan. There seems to be a holiday every day of the week. So many holidays that I cannot keep up and quite frankly, I do not have much incentive to keep up.
When I was young, I enjoyed holidays but now that I am a husband, a father, a grandfather, every holiday is billed to my account, to such an extent I cannot get out of it. I hold my wallet very tight, but evidently not tight enough. Somebody invented holidays just to sell greeting cards and make a ton of money. So, I am not a great advocate of holidays.
I fondly remember as a youngster getting up Christmas morning excited about what Santa had brought me under the Christmas tree. Little did I know that my father was taking care of all the cost. How was I to know that Christmas had a price tag to it? Nobody ever told me when I was young the Christmas presents cost anything.
When I had a family of my own, I discovered that Christmas is not free, at least for the parents, especially the father of the tribe. Of course, it was worth seeing the laughter and bright eyes of the children as they opened their Christmas gifts.
Outside of Christmas, I do not have any holidays that I get excited about, except one. I am from Pennsylvania and if you are not from that state, you will not understand this holiday. I know people celebrate Groundhog Day, but that is not my holiday. The holiday that I celebrate the most is Fastnacht Day, which is a Pennsylvania Dutch holiday celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
No, it is not a religious holiday. I don’t know too much about the roots of Fastnacht Day. But the word Fastnacht means doughnuts. Therefore, in reality, it is the national Donut Day. What holiday could be better than spending the whole day eating donuts?
One time the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage challenged me about eating donuts all day, especially pristine apple fritters. I had to explain to her that because I am from Pennsylvania I have a solemn obligation to celebrate that holiday. Even though I no longer live in Pennsylvania, I still have a solemn responsibility to eat donuts all day long on Fastnacht Day.
I do have a small confession to make though. It was June and I was celebrating Fastnacht Day with apple fritters all day long. My wife caught me and said, “What are you doing?”
Very soberly I said, “Well, it’s Fastnacht Day and I am celebrating it by eating these apple fritters.” She gave me one of those stares that bores into my very soul. I do not get those stares often, but when I do, they are most alarming.
“What do you mean,” my wife asked, “today is Fastnacht Day?” So, I launched into my description of this holiday and that as a Pennsylvania born person, I have a solemn responsibility to honor this holiday every year. It is my heritage.
“Yes,” she said most sternly, “but why are you eating apple fritters TODAY?”
There was silence for a little bit and I did not know how to answer her.
“If I’m not mistaken,” she queried, “you celebrated Fastnacht Day back in March. Why are you celebrating it in June?”
I knew I was trapped and I did not know how to untrap myself. All I could do was say, “Oh, I forgot that this was June. I must be getting older and my memory isn’t working quite as well.”
Looking at me and not smiling, she said, “It’s not your memory I’m worried about.” Then she turned around and walked away. I have been worried ever since. I did not know what she meant by what she was worried about me for. It could be a thousand things and quite frankly, I do not have the nerve to ask her what she was most worried about me.
As I said, every holiday comes with a cost factor. Not all cost has to do with money.
I wanted to tell her that although Fastnacht Day comes in March I like to celebrate it three or four times during the year. Now, what’s wrong with that? Why is it that you have to celebrate a holiday just for one day? Why can’t it be throughout the year?
I think I know how she would have responded. “Okay, why don’t you celebrate my birthday every month?” Believe me, I’m not going to be walking on those troubled waters anytime soon.
Throughout the years, I have learned that everybody has their own way of celebrating a holiday. Personally, I think people are too legalistic when it comes to holidays. My idea is, instead of celebrating holidays, why don’t we celebrate every day of the year. Every day has something special in it that warrants celebration. Celebration is remembering the right things.
David understood this when he wrote, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord” (Psalm 25:7).
There are things in my life I do not want to celebrate or remember. It is the grace of God that enables him to remember the goodness in my life and not my sins.