By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
February is a very strange month. It is the shortest month of the year, surrounded by two of the longest.
February of 2023 holds 28 days. January and March each have 31. That means that each of the other months has three more days than February – more than a 10% difference.
There’s an old saying that nothing is as rare as a day in June. I know that is using one’s poetic license, but in a practical sense, few things are as rare as a day in February.
Some of us try to cram as much as we can in the shortest of months.
For those who pay by the month, rent for example, February is the most expensive (on a per day basis).
February is one of the few, maybe even only, months to have a movie with the month itself as a central character.
The movie is, of course, Groundhog Day.
But the primary character is not the famous groundhog – it is a grumpy, cynical, self-centered weatherman who finds himself in an endless time loop on Groundhog Day, and the day keeps repeating until he gets it “right”.
All sorts of absurdities accrue and, after too many false starts, he finally begins to get a sense of who he is – and how he should treat others and, in a very direct way, like the prophetic groundhog, how he should “see” what is in front of him.
You could make the argument that the gloomy weatherman sees his own “shadow”, and changes from an inconsiderate, callous jerk into a thoughtful, kindhearted philanthropist, with a new perception and understanding of human decency and tradition, which, in return, makes him an appreciated and valued member of the community.
In short, Groundhog Day (the film) is a story of release and transformation. The main character is a very different person on February third than he was on February first.
Do any of us look around, and see the world anew, as it could be, as we might even prefer it to be, if only we played a slightly different role in our own “movie”?
There’s an old saying that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.
The premise of Groundhog Day (the film) is just an expression of that dynamic.
Fun fact; the closing song of the film is “Almost Like Being in Love” from Brigadoon, a Broadway musical which was about an entire village trapped in time.
February holds another semi-holiday (Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day are not “holidays” in the usual sense) that most of us have mixed feelings about.
After the rush of holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, most of us need a break – a time of recovery.
The strain and stress of the holidays takes their toll on our relationships. Valentine’s Day, in fact, is unofficially recognized as the day of the most relationship break-ups.
The collision of reality and idealized expectations has an all too predictable result.
Our relationships, many of us realize, do not live up to the relationships portrayed in the glossy and breathless onslaught of Hallmark holiday movies. In the wake of holidays and already forgotten New Year’s resolutions, many of us realize with a new clarity, that, with the new year, our lives may not be as “new” as we hoped they would be.
And, on Valentine’s Day in particular, when the commercials and movies tell us that we should be in bliss with our “special someone” many of us realize that we aren’t – and that we have settled for something much less than our ideal. Maybe even much less.
Who came up with that spelling?
February might be the shortest month, but it is certainly the month with the most awkward and unpronounceable spelling.
It’s the only month with more than one “R” – and few (if any) of us pronounce that first “R”.
Fun fact: as a bit of calendar trivia, May, June, July and August are the only months without an “R”.
For most of us, Presidents’ Day is the only recognized holiday of the month. It is a day most students and many workers have off.
Few of us have any “traditional” way of commemorating our presidents. Memorial Day is usually considered the first (unofficial) day of summer. Labor Day is considered the last day of summer. Presidents’ Day isn’t the first or last day of anything.
Appliances tend to be on sale that day. We Americans, as always it seems, have a peculiar way of expressing our patriotism. Perhaps there’s something fitting about that.
Editor’s note: Presidents’ Day is officially still called Washington’s Birthday as a Federal holiday. Some states also celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday, some states have President’s Day or Presidents Day (note the placement of the apostrophe or lack thereof). You can find a list of all the variations at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidents%27_Day.