Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy National Radon Action Month

January 1. A new beginning. A time to remember the past year, and a day to gaze forward. What will the economy look like a year from now? Who will be the NBA champions? How long will it take to get through airport security, three hours or four? So much to look forward to this year.

For instance, on January 24, don't forget that it's Thank Your Mentor Day. If you are a mentor, remember that February is Plant the Seeds of Greatness month, so help a youngster with potential prepare for great things in life, unless that person forgot to buy you a gift on January 24.

A site called lists every conceivable Day, Week and Month of recognition. In fact, the only thing missing from this incredibly detailed list is a National Day of Conception. Although, if you're into euphemisms, I guess Plant the Seeds of Greatness month could be an adequate replacement.

I'd assume some of these are a joke, in the way a Hall of Fame voter in baseball might sometimes vote for a .200 lifetime hitter who just happened to be the voter's brother-in-law. But offers comprehensive promotional ideas on any recognized day out there, though many of their ideas are presented with the company's tongue placed firmly in its cheek. Looking for some way to promote Return The Borrowed Books Week, which runs from March 1-7?

"Encourage the return of books borrowed and increase book lending with promotional bookmarks and booklights."

Many of the days and months on the list are as familiar as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Earth Day. April Fools Day. Mother's Day. Numerous months have entered the national conversation and serve a vital role in health care. An organized event like National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) has helped raise millions of dollars in the fight against the disease. Devoting an entire month to an illness can shed a spotlight on an issue that's too often in the shadows, such as Mental Illness Awareness Month in July. These are worthwhile endeavors.

But I'm not sure what National Umbrella Month is supposed to accomplish, which takes up all of March (why does the umbrella - no matter how handy and vital on a beach or in rainy weather - deserve an entire month, while teachers just get a week? May 2-8, by the way). Even epromos realizes the absurdity, noting the month is "a time to celebrate one of the most useful and least thought of inventions, clearly." Least-thought of, yes. And certainly useful. But a whole month? While toilet paper doesn't even earn a day of recognition? Is the under-the-radar umbrella lobby that powerful?

If the first six months of 2010 don't go the way you planned, even after that drunken and embarrassing resolution at 12:01 this morning, you'll be happy to know that June is a good time to get things turned around with Rebuild Your Life Month.

"Inform your fellow employees about Rebuild Your Life Month with items like custom fortune cookies. These tasty treats each carry a fortune or piece of advice that can be used in any attempt to rebuild your life!" The exclamation point really brings the point home.

This doesn't mention what to do if the fortune inside the tough-to-chew cookie turns out to be cryptic or frightening, a potential problem for someone hoping to use the fortune as a springboard to rebuilding their life.

August 25-31 brings on Be Kind to Humankind Week, a seven-day event that seems like good advice the other 358 days of the year. October is Auto Battery Safety Month, dedicated to teaching people how to properly jump-start a car. It's a handy skill for everyone, even though failing to learn it usually just brings about a bit of embarrassment when a mechanic or Good Samaritan says, "You don't know how to jump a car?" Unfortunately, according to, "approximately 6,000 motorists" are hurt each year as a result of working with car batteries. Not sure where the 6,000 comes from, other than from someone's imagination. They probably picked it because it sounds plausible. Saying 15,000 people are injured each year might raise eyebrows. And declaring that car batteries hurt 2,000 people a year might not rate an entire month.

And I understand, people are surely hurt while working with a car battery. They should be careful. But how does it earn an entire month, when there are millions of things that can kill or maim a person that will never earn any recognition? How many people die each year falling off a ladder? Yet there's no day or week or month to raise awareness for that issue. What nefarious cabal decides these things?

A day after the Great American Smokeout - and a day before National Family Volunteer Day - comes World Hello Day on November 22. "By greeting ten people on World Hello Day with a simple salutation, you are sending a message to world leaders to communicate to solve conflicts rather than just use force. The day began in 1973 as a response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel, but it is just as applicable today as we still have troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan." And World Hello Day has had such a positive impact on peace throughout the Middle East since 1973, why wouldn't we still be using it today?

Full-time teachers get their recognition in May, but their replacements on sick days enter the spotlight September 14-20 during Substitute Teacher Awareness Week, a week marred by giant spitballs, rude students, videos instead of lectures and a general sense of complete chaos.
Continuing with the education theme, September is also College Savings Month. For parents who drown their sorrows with a bottle or a joint when they see the price of their child's tuition, they'll be happy to know the month is also National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.

Circle June 21-27 on the home calendar. That's Carpenter Ant Awareness Week. A week? For the carpenter ant? They're a bit creepy. They're annoying. They do some damage. But wouldn't a Carpenter Ant Awareness Hour probably suffice?

Many people today complain that in youth sports, everyone gets a medal or a trophy or a ribbon. Everyone's a winner, even the losers. Some of these causes seem like the grown-up equivalent. Every disease, bug, occupation or vice gets its day. Or sometimes even a month. National Family Month, to celebrate...the family. So broad, and vague. Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week. My grandma worked as a school cook for decades and was surely unappreciated at times during her long career. But I'm not sure grandma would have thought she needed an entire week devoted to appreciating her occupation. Besides, she always got to celebrate National Grandparents Day on September 7.

Maybe I'm just being too negative. That happens early in the winter. January's snow simply leads to February's cold. Just wish I could break the cycle of negativity and cynicism. Thankfully, salvation will arrive in March. Or, as it's known around our house, National Optimism Month.

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