20 January 2011
In appreciation of Appreciation Day
First, the bad news: Jan. 21 can no longer be called Squirrel Appreciation Day. Now, the good news: It’s time to rechristen this sacred occasion as Squirrel Appreciation Day Appreciation Day.
If you really want to do your part, take the next 24 hours to appreciate the fact that 10 years after it was founded by a North Carolina wildlife rehabilitator, this holiday not only still exists but, like an acorn sprouting through the soil, it is branching out and growing strong.
So you're chagrined at being caught unprepared? You forgot to hang the wreaths, to string the holiday lights, and you never bought those plane tickets to grandma’s house?
Worse yet, your stockings are still on your feet, instead of being hung by the chimney - with or without care.
Worry not, you can still head over the river and through the woods – in fact, you should, because that’s where you’ll find all the squirrels.
And you can still leave presents under the tree. That’s the easy part, by the way: Every tree, you see, is as good as the next when your gift list includes walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and almonds. These are happy one-size-fits-all surprises that don’t need wrapping or bows and aren’t likely to be exchanged one day later for a Sony PlayStation, a Wii or a pair of diamond earrings.
You see, squirrels are easy to appreciate, even if they aren’t particularly appreciative themselves.
On the other hand (which in this case, happens to be the other paw), squirrels don’t seem to mind that their special day falls on the winter calendar sandwiched between Penguin Awareness Day, Jan. 20, an observance that mandates only the most formal attire, and National Blonde Brownie Day, Jan. 22, an occasion that spawns unfettered, nonstop, sugar-laced carbo-loading (but only as a warmup exercise for the next festival, Jan. 23, which is National Pie Day). Squirrels have no problem playing second banana to these holidays (even though National Banana Lover’s Day doesn’t come until sometime in August.) Actually, squirrels like bananas. They could celebrate along with the rest of us.
There is, however, one special celebration going on in Corvallis, Oregon, that has taken squirrel appreciation to new heights – though, in this case, it’s not the treetop kind. A popular local establishment, known as Squirrel’s Tavern, is hosting the third annual fundraiser of the nearby Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Chintimini not only appreciates squirrels but takes them in and cares for them, along with assorted other wild neighbors. Celebrants at this fundraiser are cautioned not to drink and drive, and definitely not to drink and drive and feed the squirrels.
For especially overzealous festival observers, an even stronger holiday warning has been posted on the web site of the National Wildlife Federation. It notes that National Squirrel Appreciation Day coincides with another observance: National Hug Day. While the two gestures of affection seem, at first glance, to be a natural pairing for wildlife lovers, don’t be fooled.
"Please don’t combine the two," the web site warns. "Keep your appreciation at a distance."
Otherwise the fur that flies may be your own.