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Untidy Lives

It has been explained to me once again this year how wrong it is of the Newberry to be closed this weekend. Part of their grievance is that they’re free, and libraries are supposed to be open whenever they have the leisure for libraries. Other people find the whole concept of the four-day weekend evil: they bemoan the lost productivity. “We should do it on the Canadian system,” they say, “Thanksgiving comes on a weekend so you don’t lose work days.”

Believe it or else, this attitude goes back a long way. Our Victorian ancestors, whom we regard as paragons of patriotism, were always writing editorials against the Fourth of July. Since July fourth falls on a weekday roughly five-sevenths of the time, it could mean a day off from work, meaning lost productivity, and dozens of picnics, which actually cost the community money for the clean-up. Wasn’t it far more patriotic, they argued, to just work and work and work and increase the Gross National Product on Independence Day?

What they were looking for, and what their descendants are looking for today, is a Special Day that wouldn’t cost anything, take up much time, or need cleaning up after. And we may be sneaking up on nirvana for them.

“How long until you can do the whole Book Fair online?” they ask me, with great glee, as if this was all I wanted in life.

“As soon as texts are available solely in digital form,” I tell them, glaring over my glasses at them. (This is an expression which has been copied to great success on pumpkins during Halloween.)

See, this is what makes a gala occasion: the fuss, the bother, the general hoophurrah. What is it you remember in afteryears: that 2003 was the year you got the Hello Kitty BB Gun, or that that was the year Aunt Booney sat on the wreath? Are you more likely to recall that in 2007 you bought that signed copy of the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood for Noni, or that that was the year you accidentally wound up with two thirty-pound turkeys?

Now, when you get down to brass cranberries, not being able to drop off books at the Book Fair is not so VERY much trouble, so I can’t make your Black Friday or Ultraviolet Sunday the best holiday of the year. But maybe if you drop by the A.C. (After Cranberries) McClurg Bookstore, and see the bargains offered therein for the Shopping Weekend, you can run up a big enough credit card bill to make yourself plenty enough trouble to make up for that. AND it’ll help repair those bits of the economy damaged by letting people get two days away from the assembly line.

Have a fine and caloric Turkey Day; Back to blogging in December.

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