The Tyranny of Calendar Man: 3 Tips to Happiness at Holidays

One of the lesser known villains in the DC Comic Universe is Calendar Man. Traditionally a Batman villain, he was created in 1958 (Detective Comics #289) by Batman co-creator Bill Finger.  His traditional costume is a garish red and white suit with calendar dates as shoulder pads. In later incarnations he is shown as a bald man with the months of the year tattooed on his head.

His thing? Committing crimes based on the holidays or special days on a calendar. His name? Julian Day.  He’s not a well-known nemesis of the Bat Family because his crimes all happen around holidays so it’s easy to figure him out, and he doesn’t really have any super powers or connections so Batman puts him away pretty quickly. Besides – look at him!

I'd like to see Christopher Nolan handle this guy!

I’d like to see Christopher Nolan handle this guy!

The moral of sad Calendar Man’s story is always the same – when you are trapped by the calendar and expectations of certain holidays, there’s little room for anything but misfortune. That’s as true for us as it is for Gotham.

Holidays are supposed to be a time for fun, remembrance, celebrating, spirit and food (oh, the food). But every year as social media shares our season of discontent with everyone around us, holidays are becoming big sloppy slices of complaining topped with judgment.

  • Christmas music before Thanksgiving? WRONG! Stores are greedy!
  • Retail stores opening on Thanksgiving day? CRISIS! American family is falling apart!
  • People choosing to shop on Thanksgiving or wait for Black Friday! MATERIALISTS! Putting a flat screen TV ahead of their family!
  • People saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas? HEATHEN ATHEIST WAR-MONGERS! There is a war on Christmas and these people take it away from JESUS!

I’ve seen so many posts about Target and Kmart being open on Thanksgiving I’m thinking of building a bomb shelter because it clearly must be one of the horses of the apocalypse. While everyone is moaning and gnashing their cranberry-stained teeth, the innocence, fun and fellowship we are supposed to be feeling disappears before our very eyes. All because – like Calendar Man – we are addicted to a date on a page.  Here’s my 3 tips to enjoy this time of year without the drama.

  1. BE HERE NOW

In meditation and mindfulness we are taught to focus on the now. We are encouraged to learn from and let go of the past, and move toward but not expect the future. We don’t measure our heart on the calendar – a man-made time-line placed atop our lives like a waffle iron – we measure it in the moment – what we feel, who we love, how we move.

The truth is Thanksgiving is not the only day people have to eat, laugh and love with their family. You can (and should try to) experience that ANY day.

Cultivate thankfulness as a daily practice. Eat more meals around your dinner table or pick a day in the week to make a special meal with special food. If you have to work Thanksgiving day – no one is going to take your family away from you – find a time when you are off and tell them how thankful you are.  We don’t need Thanksgiving to feel gratitude, we don’t need Christmas Day to give presents and tell people we love them, and we don’t need New Year’s to start over.

Free yourself from the calendar. Be in the now.

 2. STOP JUDGING

I mentioned on a facebook post that my wife is a nurse and she is working Thanksgiving and Friday so our Thanksgiving is Saturday. I said the point of the holiday is gratitude, not the worship of Thursday.  A few who worked in retail also wrote that they LIKED working the holiday because of time and a half, and the energy of goodwill in the stores.  What did I get back?

  1.  Doctors, nurses and police are ESSENTIAL. Target employees are not. We can live without Target for a day.
  2. Target doesn’t NEED to be open Thanksgiving. They are just greedy!
  3. People who go shopping put material things ahead of their family!

They seem like sound arguments – until you see them for the bucket of judgment they represent.

 It’s unfair to suggest what one person does is more essential or important than what someone else does.  I’m a writer. It’s at the top of the list of “non-essential careers” – but it means the world to me. Is a nurse worth more? Does a doctor’s work make mine meaningless? No. It makes it different.  Someone who works at Target may not be essential to you – but that salary, and the good work that person does at their job, is essential to them. Get off your high horse – airport workers, retail clerks, people who fix broken heaters are just as essential as doctors and EMTs – to someone.

Retail runs this country. YOU might not think Target needs to be open Thanksgiving, but the accountant for Target might. They call is “black Friday” because it helps retail stores move from Red (financial loss) to Black (profit) for the year.  Maybe it’s more important than you think. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. And, really, unless you are a retail accountant – neither do you.

Newsflash:  Not everyone has a family. Or a nice family. Or thinks spending all afternoon eating is the best way to be with their family. Or can make memories laughing while shopping instead of silently sitting in front of the Cowboys football game.  Truth is, not every family looks like this:

thanksgiving-family-dinner

Sometimes they look like this:

fighting

So getting out of the house and doing a little shopping or going to a movie until things cool down might just be the better option. When you assume the reason everyone shops is materialism – then it is likely YOU who is the materialist.

 3. BE A GOOD GUEST

Let’s face it. As living beings –we are all guests on this planet. We don’t own the ocean, nature, sky or weather. We are all blessed to be guests on our mother Earth’s surface. So as we get into December – a place where a lot of religions, people, and ideas are all trying to experience joy, birth, goodness, and light in the midst of winter – let people do what they do without correction or criticism.

If you were a guest at a party, and you saw some people eating the meat out of soup with chopsticks – would you walk over and say, “You people are WRONG! Beef stew is eaten with a spoon! YOU HATE SILVERWARE!”?   No – probably not.  You might say, “wow, that’s different from how I do it,” then pick up your spoon and eat.

A Christmas gift called "compromise"

A Christmas gift called “compromise”

So – since we are all guests at December’s spiritual party – some people are going to say Merry Christmas, and some people are going to say Happy Hanukah, and some people are going to talk about Kwanza, and others are going to talk about “Happy Holidays.”  Get over that. Say what you say and let people say what they say.

Jesus might be the reason for YOUR season, but other people have other reasons and celebrate other seasons. Accept a happy greeting in the spirit it’s given, and move along. Every time you complain about this kind of stuff at Christmas an angel sets its wings on fire.

What was Calendar Man’s ultimate capture?  In the mini-series Dark Victory, Calendar Man tries to capture another villain called “Holiday” who is stealing his thunder by killing on holidays. What happens to him? Holiday’s sister catches Calendar Man and nearly beats him to death, leaving his tied up body for Batman to find. Holiday territoriality is clearly a bad idea.

Don’t be trapped by the lines on a page or the fantasy about “how it is supposed to be.” Be in your present. Be in the now. Just be, and let the world be too.

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2 Comments on “The Tyranny of Calendar Man: 3 Tips to Happiness at Holidays”

  1. Galaxian says:

    The “essential worker” thing is a curse of our technological and economic success. Only about 25% or so of the workforce is really needed to make and distribute the goods and services people must have, from a welfare standpoint, by some estimates. Everything else that’s done in an advanced country is “fluff.” But the fluff is what makes modern life richer in a way that few earlier human beings imagined; what used to be for the rich only is now widely available. And the alternative to an economy based on consumption, with lots of Walmart workers, is a serious unemployment problem. I guess that’s why things seem to have turned out as you described.

    • Thanks for this great comment. I definitely concur with your thought on that – as we become less industrial and more information/techno based we lose our “human touch” in terms of work and how we see it. I like being part of the “fluff” and hope we find always find a way and a place for it.

      Fun anecdote: My father came from an Appalachian farm family, went to WW2 and the army offered to educate him to be a missile technician/engineer. My grandfather laughed at him and said, “Son, I don’t care how modern you get – a man will never be able to make a living with a pencil.”


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