Mr. Wolfe Goes to Washington


Happy holidays?

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2 April 2006

In all the excitement of the annual member meeting in Las Vegas, a couple of seemingly innocuous comments reminded me of a heated discussion that took place at the June 2005 Board meeting. At the end of that Board meeting, a number of members expressed their displeasure at being away from home on Father's Day. Later that year, CSI staff was chastised for having scheduled CSI University during Yom Kippur.

Trying to schedule events is a major headache, especially for an organization with as many multi-day events as we have. For the extremely politically correct, there may be no way to have a meeting that lasts more than a day.

Holidays may be divided into two categories - secular and religious - but I'll add a third in a moment. National holidays, which fall into the first category, include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Government agencies observe all of these holidays, but some companies also take one or more of these days off, creating a number of treasured three-day weekends.

Now let's look at the religious holidays. Taking a practical approach - which holidays affect the greatest number of members - it would seem logical to add in Christian and Jewish holidays. No problem, you may think, but from here on, we won't get agreement on which holidays are important and which are not. Within any given faith, there is a range of feeling regarding religious holidays and how they are to be celebrated. Some celebrate all holidays, while others ignore most of them.

If we are truly sensitive and caring, we will add all holidays for all religions that are represented in our membership: American Indian, Amish, Baha'i, Islam, Jewish, Orthodox, Pagan, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Wiccan, and more. If all holidays were single day events, it would be trouble enough, but some of them last for many days. The calendar is getting smaller!

Without digging too deeply, I found that each month has holidays on at least eight separate days, and as many as twenty-seven; moreover, some days are holidays from more than one religion. Saturdays and Sundays, once respected by many religions but now often seen only as non-work days, add a few more.

Now consider the other organizations that draw from our members - AIA, AGC, professional engineers, IFMA, BOMA, IMI, BIA, World of Concrete, and more - all of whom are trying to avoid the same days we are. The calendar is almost gone!

And the third type of holiday? These are the made-up holidays, created and promoted by the greeting card companies and retailers: Father's Day, Mother's Day, Children's Day, Grandparents' Day, Grandchildren's Day, and for the heck of it I'll throw in Halloween and Valentine's Day.

Now don't get me wrong; I care for all of the people with special days as much as anyone else. Yes, I would like to be with my family on all of those made-up holidays, but I don't reserve my expressions of love for a single day each year. It would be great if we could avoid scheduling CSI activities on holidays, but with our busy schedule - convention, CSI-U, Board meetings, committee and task team meetings, region conferences, chapter meetings, and more - taking as many days as they do, all we can really ask is that we try to inconvenience as few members as possible.

2006 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, 

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