Every Holiday Should Just Be Arbor Day

Balloons hanging on a clothesline with trees and garages in the background.

We’re celebrating Mother’s Day in Canada today. It seems to be a holiday that’s increasingly problematic for more and more people. There are those whose mothers have died. Those who wanted to become mothers but couldn’t. People who have strained relationships with their mothers. And on and on it goes.

I fall into two of those categories. A few years ago, I posted, “Mine is dead, and my ovaries are shite.”

I mostly intended it to be funny, but lots of lovely women stepped up to assure me that Mother’s Day actually celebrates all kind, supportive women. It includes aunties. And friends, too! And, while I really appreciate their warmth and friendliness, actually, it doesn’t. The clue’s in the name.

We have so many of these exclusionary holidays: Valentine’s Day, Family Day, Mother’s, and Father’s Day.

Canada Day, Columbus Day, and Thanksgiving are excruciating once you’ve learned a little bit of history.

I can almost hear the eye-rolling, the thoughts of “Oh, for goodness sake, can’t we just enjoy a holiday for once? What a bunch of snowflakes.”

But we only call someone a snowflake when they’re feeling a hurt that we have no experience of. If we understood their pain, we’d want to do what we could to not add to it. We’d realize that they’re stronger than we’ve been giving them credit for.

Holidays are supposed to be fun, a moment to slow down and enjoy a day with people you like. They’re not meant to hurt anyone. So, instead of turning ourselves inside out trying to make these rigid days more inclusive, I have a better suggestion. We should just rename every holiday Arbor Day.

Everybody loves trees, right? They do so much for us and make us all so happy.

We can keep the bits of the original holidays we like. In February, we can hand our favourite person a box of chocolates while proclaiming our love. Plant trees in honour of our parents on the Arbor Days in May and June. Exchange gifts for December Arbor Day.

And if all those holidays throughout the year inspire us to plant more trees, so much the better. We need just about as many as we can get.

There would be so much less misery in the world! Less angst and awkwardness and people putting their feet in their mouths. I still cringe when I remember the woman who asked me, “Are you doing anything special for Mother’s Day?”

I looked at her blankly and said, “In terms of what?”

Not good.

So happy Arbor Day to you, however you choose to celebrate it.

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