Throughout the year, America glides seamlessly from one national holiday to the next. It swaggers past Valentine’s Day, flies into Easter and hurtles through Thanksgiving with little to no self-control. It has been estimated that people spend roughly $7.4 billion on Halloween each year, a holiday about ghosts and sugar. America gives a lot of its time to Holidays. A lot of time.
It also gives its employees an average of about 1 weeks vacation a year. It can take a week to just get out of a Trader Joe’s parking lot. How can someone vacation in that time? France gets 4 weeks vacation, as does most European countries. But you can’t go to Europe, because you’re too busy buying easter eggs in bulk from Costco. You’re constantly bombarded with in-house commitments that you never stopped to noticed the front door is wide open. Before you realize, fall has arrived and you’ve committed to 3 Halloween parties, bought a papier-mâché turkey and stuck 4 life-size reindeer statues on the front lawn. New Year’s Eve hits, you kiss a stranger and your life slips further away from yourself. Land of the free.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what about the summer? Aside from July 4th, it’s a vast wasteland of nothingness. No national holidays, just sunshine and time to kick-back. But remember, you’ve only got 1 week. The July 4th party you just threw cost the best part of $400 and you’re still facing all those summer BBQs and overpriced hot dog buns. Taking 1 week to travel to Cabo with the kids and unwind seems counter-productive at this point. So you stay home and use your vacation days around Thanksgiving. This way, the 4-day weekend can feel like a semi-break and you can go to sleep feeling mildly happy.
As you lie in bed, you think of Monday. How did it come so fast? Oh yes, because you’ve only had 4 days off. You think of the French and their 4 weeks. This annoys you. Why have you been given 1 week and most European countries get 4? Did they figure out that happy, relaxed, traveled people work better, live happier lives and are more productive? No. That can’t be true. You don’t like the French, remember, you read something about Freedom Fries a few years ago that upset everyone. Now you’re annoyed and hungry.
If you keep citizens busy with glazing turkeys and buying copious amounts of chocolate eggs, chances are they won’t notice they work 358 days of the year. This might sound like a conspiracy theory, but I’m OK with that, it’s more thrilling. There’s nothing like a good conspiracy to start a conversation.
Aside from revolutionizing the vacation system and/or sending stern letters to your employer, you can use that week to show them who’s boss. Next time you see the country flying face first into buying July 4th decorations, fight the urge to spend your savings on fireworks, pack a suitcase and jet off to another country. It might only be a week, but it’s your freakin’ week!