It would be so easy to just relax, to go along, to agree. It would be much easier to accept the tokens of the culture around me and go about my business. I would have more friends, though perhaps different ones. I could enjoy holidays, and television, and in jokes, and guy talk, and even get excited when my country is winning a war...
But it would be embarrassing. Strangely enough, I find almost nothing embarrassing these days except perhaps being called out in an apparent contradiction - being caught in a lie. Going along to get along would feel like constantly being caught in a lie.
Celebrating holidays means agreeing that the celebration is valid. Accepting that the hardship that was overcome should have been. Agreeing that the new state of affairs is better than the old. Sharing the assumptions about the world that make the holiday special.
You want examples, I suppose (my English teachers would have).
To celebrate July 4th means believing that something special happened when the colonies shook off the yoke of English rule and taxation from afar to replace it with their own rule of the wealthy elite.
To play at Easter eggs and chocolate means to accept the prevailing western myth about a man who rose from the dead, a man who may have been a great teacher but whose teachings have been perverted into a peculiar belief system (and system of justifications) that I cannot let pass without pointing out that I disagree.
New Year's Day. If the lotteries are a tax on the mathematically incompetent, this holiday is theirs. Look, it is just another day.
I think that if the way life is organized you lose touch with the flow, lose touch with what matters to you, to the extent that you must assign particular days to those values to try to remember them, that our lives become very poorly organized.
Christmas... well, if you need to have a special day to be nice to kids, you have become rather scary. If you need a reason to share gifts with those you love, what do they get from you the rest of the time? If this is the time you cross yourself and engage in a little charity, how are the needy to survive the other eleven months of the year and how is your spirit supposed to run on empty while they do? Christmas is a major embarrassment, as far as I can see here in America, at least.
So in my calendar, time is divided fairly rationally... thirteen 28 day months, with the new month humbly named after myself for now, and March renamed Kerry because March is too ugly a name for a month. The adoption of this calendar would also be a fine opportunity to introduce "metric" time as well - ten hours a day, 100 minutes an hour, and 100 seconds a minute. The "new second" would be about 9/10ths of the "old second", so when counting off short time intervals instead of "one on thousand..." one could say "one nine hundred..." etc.
The year starts with the winter solstice, as it should (there is a northern hemisphere bias here). Holidays would be on the solar calendar and secular commemorations should be spaced about equally between, providing a "long weekend" or week off at roughly six to eight week intervals all year. The years should be counted from the earliest contiguous human records, which I should research so I can name the current year properly.
This calendar will be much less embarrassing to explain to the aliens, if they ever get stranded here.
© Huw Powell