Norman Knight: How do we save Groundhog Day?

In my dream I am out in the mid-winter woods standing among a group of groundhogs.

We are in a circle around an old stump which seems to serve as a table or possibly an altar. It is clear to me these are not just any old groundhogs; these are the movers and shakers of the of the Groundhog Community. Apparently, I have been asked to attend an emergency meeting of the Grand Huddle of Groundhogs (G-HOGS).

“How can I help?” I ask.

A large groundhog who appeared to be in charge spoke: “We have asked you here because we need help. We G-HOGS have been concerned for sometime now that our special day — for us in the community the most important holiday on the calendar — is in trouble. We are looking for ideas to, well, perk up this special day. We think you are someone who can think outside the box.”

“You see,” another official-looking G-HOG said, “We would like to see Feb. 2 develop into something more celebratory, more joyous for you humans. It should be a day of feasts and festivals, of mirth and merry-making. Greeting people on the street in February with ‘Happy Groundhog Day’ should be as common as saying ‘Happy Holidays’ in December.”

A third G-HOG chimed in: “Right now, folks in the Human Community observe Groundhog Day, if they recognize it at all, by airing a short video clip on the local news of Punxsutawney Phil being hoisted up by some guys in top hats who declare he did or did not see his shadow. Or maybe some reporter checks out the groundhog at the local zoo. And if we’re lucky, some movie channel will broadcast the movie Groundhog Day. That’s about it.”

“Yeah, back in 1993 when that movie came out, some of us hoped it would propel our special day to a high ranking in the pantheon of Major Holidays,” one groundhog said wistfully.

“Here’s a thought,” I said, “Maybe plan a media blitz to remind people how special Groundhog Day really is. With the right incentives you might persuade Groundhog Day stars Bill Murray and Andie McDowell to be spokespersons. Establish them as the human faces of Groundhog Day. Run some spots during the Super Bowl.”

“Or how about creating some music that would be associated with the holidays?” I said, warming up to the notion of making Groundhog Day great again. “The lyric possibilities are endless: sunny and cloudy days, shadows, cute furry creatures (No offense), cozy burrows. Write some happy tunes, maybe some nostalgic melodies, and you will make a lasting impression in people’s minds. Imagine radio channels devoted exclusively to Groundhog Day music. Set your radio to the GHD channel on Sirius XM and leave it.”

“Great ideas,” the group agreed.

A couple of G-HOGs who had stayed quiet until now spoke up. “We should also think about associating gift-giving with our holiday. Having particular objects such as clothes and jewelry, foods and sweets, special tableware and linens as part of the mental images as people prepare to celebrate Groundhog Day would certainly fix the holiday in the mind. And such feelings of established tradition could make someone a lot of money.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Is this whole thing just about making a buck? What am I doing? Now that I think about it, one of my favorite things about Groundhog Day is that there are no gifts, no cards, no traditional foods, no special sweaters to think about.”

“You know,” I said as I walked away. “Thanks for inviting me, but I think I’m out.”