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Weeds: Every day is a day for something

Gwen Ruff lives in Gibbon. Gwen is filling in for Randy Krzmarzick while he finishes up harvest.

Nov. 14 was World Diabetes Day. I know this because our school district asked people to wear blue because we’ve got at least one kid who has this disease.

While explaining why everybody was wearing blue to some students, another teacher mentioned there’s an “autism day, too,” so I looked it up. World Autism Awareness Day is the second of April, a month crammed with days drawing attention to lots of ideas, foodstuffs and causes — some less serious than others.

The internet and social media have been a godsend for these national recognition days nobody’s ever heard of. National Empanada Day April 8? Never heard of it, but my Argentine daughter-in-law makes the most delicious empanadas ever — even though they apparently originated in Spain and many, many countries claim a variety.

“The name comes from ’empanar,’ which means ‘to bread’ in Spanish and Portuguese,” according to the calendar website National Today. “But some historians argue that the true meaning is ‘Can I have another?'” Agreed. It’s on my celebration calendar for next year.

As is New Beer’s Eve April 6.

“On April 7, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the major first step toward ending Prohibition and signed a law allowing people to brew and distribute beer in the United States,” says National Today, one of several online calendar sites. “Upon signing the legislation, FDR famously stated, ‘I think this would be a good time for a beer.'”

Our family actually sat around Randy’s kitchen table years ago and discussed celebrating this very event. It included a trek to Granite Falls to crack a cold one at the home of U.S. Rep. Andrew Volstead, who guided the National Prohibition Act through Congress. Join us on National Beer Day April 7, 2020.

Some other days I’ve added to my calendar: National Bloody Mary Day and possibly National Hangover Day Jan. 1; National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day Jan. 22; National Tater Tot Day Feb. 2; National Pizza Day Feb. 9; National Margarita Day Feb. 22; National Hug a Newsperson Day April 4; National Hug Your Dog Day April 10 and National Hug Your Cat Day June 4; Star Wars Day May 4; World Migratory Bird Day May 11; National Take Your Cat to Work Day June 17 and National Take Your Dog to Work Day June 21; National Kitten Day July 10; National Potato Day Aug. 19; National Red Wine Day Aug. 28; World Coconut Day Sept. 2; National Wiener Schnitzel Day Sept. 9; National Homemade Cookies Day Oct. 1; National Kevin Day Oct. 3; National Get Funky Day Oct. 5; Go to an Art Museum Day Nov. 9 and finally National Bacon Day Dec. 30.

Of course, most of these days have been cooked up by advertising and marketing geniuses to sell stuff. The national calendar websites even have forms where you can suggest a new national day. Hallmark is probably responsible for a good chunk of them, too. I was looking to add some physical observances, but apparently the creators also are foodie couch potatoes because there weren’t a lot of celebrations like See If You Can Still Bend Over to Tie Your Shoes Day, Make It Up the Stairs Without Wheezing Day or Why Can’t I Button These Pants Day.

At first glance, World Toilet Day Nov. 19 seems like another opportunity to indulge in third-grade humor. It turns serious with just the barest research. Started by the United Nations General Assembly, it’s a joint project with governments around the world to show the importance of sanitation systems in improving human health and eradicating disease. They just call it World Toilet Day because, well, that’s catchier than World Waste Processing Systems Day. The idea is to call attention to worldwide sanitation crises and efforts to make improvements in wastewater treatment, stormwater management and hand washing. The U.N. declared the right to water and sanitation a basic human right in 2010.

Another day that caught my eye is the National Day of Mourning. For nearly 50 years, Native Americans have met and marched through the historic district of Plymouth, Mass., on Thanksgiving Day. The march is to remind people of another side to European settlement, one that for native people includes land seizures, forced assimilation and death.

According to the United American Indians of New England, “It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”

Coincidentally, I woke Monday morning to an NPR report on water access in the United States. In this day and age, 58 out of every 1,000 Native American households still lack plumbing, according to a new report from a nonprofit organization called DigDeep and the U.S. Water Alliance. Three out of every 1,000 white households still have no plumbing in the richest country in the world. At least 2 million Americans live without running water or a flushing toilet, the study found.

That’s kind of unbelievable — and appalling. Imagine going through your day without clean or potable water. Or just ask the residents of Flint, Mich. how hard it is.

The NPR report said that federal funding for water infrastructure has shrunk dramatically since the last century when we invested in water and sanitation systems that rid us of many water-borne illnesses. If you lived in a Native American community, you were more likely to have missed out on that first wave of basic water pipelines.

Now, all of our infrastructure is aging, so throw water and sewage pipes in with everything that needs to be fixed or upgraded. I included links to the NPR story and the report itself in e-mails I sent to Minnesota senators and congressional representatives.

It’s a small gesture, but knowing about World Toilet Day and the National Day of Mourning made me pay more attention to something happening in the world. I must be a marketing expert’s dream consumer, because for events like these, that’s the point.

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