Special days (or weeks or months) make me feel burdened with the expectation that I can feel some sort of way on command. You tell me to celebrate, what I feel is bad. You tell me to feel grateful, what I feel is resentful. You tell me to be respectful, I am respectful enough to keep quiet about how I feel no different from before.
If I were to organize holidays into tiers, the top tier would consist of the major holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas. While these holidays nominally are about feeling some particular way, they are more importantly, about doing something. They are designated times for family gatherings. Family gatherings are something we want to do anyway, but we can’t do it every day, thus the holiday serves a practical purpose.
The second tier is national holidays when we get off work. A work holiday is something you do, not something you feel. You can’t take work holidays every day, there’s some value in everyone taking off work on the same day, thus the holidays serve some practical purpose. Unfortunately, many of these holidays also ask us to feel respect or reverence for something, be it veterans or labor activists, Colombus or MLK, and that doesn’t really work on me.
The lowest tier is special days or weeks or months that seem to serve no purpose but to instruct us to feel something. I’m talking about things like Earth Day or Pride Month. In fairness, these holidays also instruct us to do something, to take action. But the call to action never seems to be nearly as strong as the call to feeling.
Although my dislike of holidays comes from a place that is apolitical, it ends up being political because of the subject matter of the holidays. I worry that if I write about my dislike of holidays, I’ll accidentally publish it in the proximity of something like the Trans Day of Remembrance, and I don’t think that would be very appropriate. From my perspective, trans people are murdered year round, and that’s essential background for LGBT activism, not something I mourn extra on a designated date. But I think the day makes sense, and constitutes effective activism, even if it’s not effective for me personally.
Recently a couple fellow FTBloggers also talked about not understanding public mourning and being guilt-tripped into feeling the “right” thing. Both were discussing in relation to Memorial Day. To my mind that seems like one of the safer holidays to complain about. *shrug*
Some of my dislike of holidays comes from my long experience as a blogger. Early on, I had an internal sense of obligation to write stuff either referencing or addressing special occasions. That was, after all, what many of my blogging role models did. I rarely succeeded. Instead, holidays would woosh by, and I would berate myself for not planning ahead.
When I did think ahead, I struggled to find anything interesting to say, especially if I was going to say something authentic to how I actually felt. Eventually I realized that even if I succeeded about writing about all these special occasions, at my blogging rate it would constitute a large fraction of my content, and I hated the idea. These days, I ignore special occasions in my writing, unless I have something that seems well-timed by coincidence.
The special occasion that particularly bothers me is Ace Week (in late October), because I don’t just have an internal sense of obligation, I also have to deal with external expectations on me as an ace blogger. Most of the time I don’t really know what to write that would be appropriate.
But even if I don’t write stuff on most years, I do some work in the background. I’m a leader of The Ace Community Survey, whose target release window is during Ace Week. I also aggregate links for The Asexual Agenda. I don’t feel any particular kind of way during Ace Week, but I find that it makes the most sense to me when it’s not about feeling something, it’s about contributing a little bit of work.