National Nothing Day

January 16, 2018

A “Nothing” sort of day

January 16, it turns out, is historically one of the most boring days in history. The three most exciting things I could find for this date were 1) Debut of the Donny and Marie Show in 1976  2) Cher and Greg Allman’s divorce finalized in 1979 & 3) Wayne Newton performs his 25,000th show in Las Vegas in 1996.

January 16 Boring celebsTruly riveting events. Which is why January 16th being “National Nothing” Day seems appropriate.*

The day was started in 1972 by San Francisco Examiner columnist Harold Pullman Coffin. The day was created, according to the infallible Wikipedia as a way:

“…to provide Americans with one National day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing or honoring anything.”

There truly is no lack of irony with what I discovered about this event. Wikipedia’s article is what’s known as an ‘orphan’ with not a single link to anything about this event. Yet the ‘day’ was significant enough to be included in the 1975 printing of Chase’s Calendar of Events (first published in 1957).

Chase’s Calendar was also started by someone in the newspaper business. Bill Chase worked for the Flint (Michigan) Journal in the library. Hours and Hours of clipping and filing news stories prompted the idea of the publication which, as of 2012, had been updated and produced annually for 55 years.

There are a couple of takeaways from all this. First, is that if you are a writer and love trivial facts there’s probably a book inside of you. It amazes me the things that someone has turned into a book. Second, is that unless I’m sick, I can’t possibly sit and do ‘nothing’ all day. But, of course when one looks at the description of the day it doesn’t literally mean to not do anything.

I can’t think of anything more boring than sitting around and doing ‘nothing.’

Mrs. RennWhen I was in high school I had a fabulous teacher by the name of Mrs. Renn. Sadly, the year I was in her class she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. But that did not stop her from coming to school every day and imparting her knowledge and wisdom to a bunch of ungrateful teenagers. One day I recall one of the students must have complained about the literature we were discussing and that she was bored. Mrs. Wren didn’t get mad at the student but took the opportunity to impart her philosophy on life. I paraphrase but the message was this “there is no excuse to EVER be bored; if you have your mind, you can always find something interesting to read, or write, or do.”

The impact was huge. I’ve carried that message and that day with me all these years and I’m eternally grateful to Mrs. Renn for giving me wisdom at a moment in time when I needed to hear it.

So my plans for National Nothing Day is to seize the opportunity to use that time to have the very best day possible ‘doing’ all sorts of interesting (to me) things.

I enjoyed this article about the man who started Chase’s Calendar:

And the Wikipedia article:

What are YOU going to do today when there’s ‘nothing’ to celebrate, recognize or observe?

*Martin Luther King Day (he was born January 15th) was designated as a Federal holiday in 1983 and it was not until the year 2000 when all 50 states observed it. Since it falls on the third Monday in January it has occurred on January 16th five times since its creation (1989, 1995, 2006, 2012, 2017) now making the January 16th designation as “Nothing Day” erroneous some years.

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