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Groundhog day

Christian Myers | Friday, February 1, 2013

Before I begin, I’d like to respond to all my fans who claim I always choose an Inside Column that coincides with a holiday so I can say something silly or sarcastic, and thus avoid writing anything real. To them I say: Yes … and there is nothing you can do about it.
Chances are you don’t believe me. Chances are you’ve bought into the propaganda, but the fact is Groundhog Day is the greatest holiday ever.
Unlike other holidays, Groundhog Day offers suspense. I mean sure, the first time around it was a miracle the oil lasted for eight days, but after a few thousand years it gets a bit predictable; same goes for the rest. The great thing is we don’t know what is going to happen Feb. 2; Phil may see his shadow, he may not. This uncertainty, coupled with the importance of knowing the amount of winter weather remaining, means Groundhog Day builds up a level of suspense that simply cannot be replicated, no matter how much Ryan Seacrest wishes it could.
Another quality that makes Groundhog Day great is that it brings people together. On Saturday, everyone will join together, fingers crossed, in willing Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow. We all want to hold on to our glorious winter as long as possible and Groundhog Day serves to remind us of that beautiful shared desire.
We must also keep in mind that Punxsutawney Phil is a man, or rather marmot, of the people. While other holiday figures break into homes in the middle of the night or leave the glad-handing to impersonators at the mall, Punxsutawney Phil gets down and dirty (literally – he lives in a hole in the ground). Phil is a marmot of simple tastes and when Punxsutawnians need him, he shows up and humbly does his thing. He may not be a mainstream holiday figure, but his loyal cult following shows his connection to the common man is still strong.
In fact, the only problem with Groundhog Day is we underutilize this wonderful resource. Why do we only ask this clairvoyant rodent, this Sciuridae seer, what the weather will be like for a month and a half? Now let me be clear, I am not saying we should overwork or exploit Phil – he’s a friend – I’m simply saying we should give the Punxsutawney prophet a chance to do more good with his gift. The Super Bowl is coming up; why not have Phil tell us how many touchdowns to expect from Kaepernick? Wouldn’t it be great to know when the next economic crisis, technological breakthrough or celebrity break-up will come to pass? Just saying.
In the end, let’s all just be thankful that when February rolls around, we can rely on an oracular ground squirrel instead of that “science” stuff for accurate weather forecasting.

Contact Christian Myers at cmyers8@nd.edu
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.