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December 25 has outlived its usefulness. With so many traffic deaths and snarled-up airline travel plans, that traditional date has been killed off. This past holiday season convincingly showed us that it makes no sense for 100 million Americans to toodle about 400 miles apiece, on slick, crowded roadways or on instrument-only flight paths, when (as the song says) “weather outside is frightful.” Dumb, and dangerous. So let’s hear it for ‘X-Alt’ (my condensed version of ‘Alternative Christmas Date’ by way of ‘Xmas’). My vote is for June 25 or thereabouts. We don’t really know when Jesus was born, anyway.

Our holiday calendar is already a mess. Look how many “observed” dates violate original intent. Washington’s Birthday, celebrated in grand style (big parade, fancy dress ball) in Laredo, where I grew up, is correctly February 22; this year’s calendar says it will be observed on the 18th. Queen Elizabeth was actually born on April 21; her birthday is observed (usually) the second Saturday in June. Easter slithers eel-like around our calendar: first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox (which is about March 21).

So we should be looking at some date for Christmas in summer. Good weather. I don’t know what to say about Butte’s chances: when I first moved there, in 1980, I got a bad sunburn watching the July 4th parade led by Tony the Trader. I had forgotten to wear a hat. The following July 4th I did wear a hat, but the wrong kind. It snowed! Needed ear flaps.

You might ask “But what about Thanksgiving?” My view (some might say my curmudgeonly view) is that we have darned little to be thankful about. So we might just as well forget about Thanksgiving. Except for my wife’s cranberry sauce. And her jalapeño cornbread.

John Lowry

Billings

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