Am I making this up...or is it true that when I was a kid, Groundhog Day was a much bigger deal than it is today? Punxsutawney Phil was like a celeb back in the day. We waited with bated breath each February 2nd to learn our fate: would we have six more weeks of winter or would spring come early...only Phil could tell us for sure.
But this morning when I woke my kids, I wasn't certain that it really was Groundhog Day. Yes, I knew it was the 2nd day of February, but I wasn't sure if the world's most famous groundhog was due to make an appearance or not. Is it because I live down south now and with temperatures hovering around 61 degrees it matters not if we have another 6 weeks of winter? Perhaps I paid more attention when I was a kid because the winters in New Jersey were brutal and if we could shave off 6 weeks, it was like winning the lottery. Or perhaps the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl win was the only news making its way out of Pennsylvania this morning. I don't know, I just seem to remember a bit more fanfare and excitement over the annual ritual.
I'm having a hard time because I can barely remember yesterday, much less the early 70's, but I have a visual of entire bulletin boards at John Y. Dater Elementary School completely devoted to this crazy superstition featuring Phil in all of his glory. As a child, February meant cutting out large black silhouettes of President Washington and President Lincoln's heads. You could also count on at least one Valentines Day art project. But I swear we colored and painted and crafted images of Punxsutawney Phil, as well. And while I'm usually not a betting gal, I recall making wagers with my fellow classmates: would he or would he not see his shadow?
But I checked with my 3rd grade son when he got home from school today and he assured me that there was nary a mention of Groundhog Day. Same goes with my 6th grader: nada, nothing, totally ignored. What, pray tell, are they teaching kids these days if not the roots of Groundhog Day? For the love of Pete, it's the most apolitical holiday on the calendar: no need to be politically correct or racially tactful or religiously agreeable. It's good, clean fun. We as a nation need to re-embrace Groundhog day. We need to bring back the Groundhog Day customs and traditions of long ago.
But mostly...we need spring to come 6 weeks earlier this year....