I launched this contest in a sincere and humanitarian effort to bring a ray of sunshine into our dreary, frostbitten lives and to make Manitoba a better, warmer place in which to live.
I am, of course, lying. As always, my goal here was to be generally obnoxious and to get other people to write my column for me.
This whole name-the-holiday thing arose because the provincial government recently agreed to give us a new statutory day off in February.
Naturally, I asked readers to suggest names for the holiday because, if we left this task to the government, it would (a) take 42 years; (b) cost us $358 million; and (c) result in something really stupid like "Spirited Energy Day."
The response to this contest has been heart-warming, with hundreds of concerned Manitobans sending emails, voice mails and letters. I believe some suggestions arrived by dogsled, while others were strapped to the legs of carrier pigeons.
In response, I would just like to say -- and this is from the bottom of my heart -- STOP! THE CONTEST IS OVER! LEAVE ME ALONE!
I'm not kidding. I was briefly tempted to declare myself the winner for What Was I Thinking Holding A Stupid Contest Like This Day.
But, after sorting through a mountain of entries, I have learned three important lessons:
1) Many of you have w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y too much time on your hands;
2) Some of you have apparently just arrived from a different galaxy and/or are no longer taking your prescription medication;
3) A great many of you are wonderful, kind, sensitive people who -- through no fault of my own, of course -- apparently failed to notice this is, in fact, a humour column.
(WARNING: SERIOUS CONTENT AHEAD)
Many, many readers felt very strongly our new statutory holiday should honour Louis Riel or Cindy Klassen or, especially, Manitoba's brave firefighters.
As reader Kathy Labossiere put it in an email that popped into my computer moments ago: "I think we should call this new holiday 'Hug A Firefighter Day!' I would be first in line."
As a human being, I can only applaud these noble and worthy suggestions.
As a humour columnist, I was kind of thinking about something in a lighter vein.
I should point out here all the suggestions went through a strict judging process, in which I wandered into senior editor Margo Goodhand's office and said: "How about this one?" Or: "OK, what about this one?"
My point here is, if you are deeply offended by this column, you definitely should send a very harshly worded letter to "Doug Is An Idiot, c/o Margo Goodhand, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Avenue, Wpg., Man., R2X 3B6."
And let me just say that, in this great democracy we call Canada, each and every one of us is entitled to their own opinion, and yours is wrong. Thank you.
(SERIOUS CONTENT ENDS)
There was also a considerable amount of support for a February break in honour of "Friends and Family."
"If we had a day designated to spending time with our family and friends in February, it would certainly add to the mental health of all Manitobans,'' enthused reader Geri Altman.
That is difficult to disagree with, unless you happen to be reader Peter Latimer, who truly captured the spirit of my column, a spirit that says you should NEVER get off your couch unless your kids refuse to give you the remote control.
Peter made a strong argument for calling the holiday "Lassitude Day."
Lassitude is a word that, if I remember correctly (and I'm pretty sure I do because I'm quoting directly from the dictionary) means "disinclination to exert oneself."
But what of a mid-winter day to foster family unity?
Wrote Peter: "Only those who have had their brains addled through the effects of constructing model airplanes in their youth would contemplate dragging their loved ones outside in the throes of a Manitoba winter in the interests of togetherness."
Peter had his eyes on the Grand Prize -- my pledge to go to the winner's workplace and DO THEIR JOB FOR THEM while they relax on the couch and watch Star Trek reruns.
Since he is retired, Peter felt his employer, namely his wife, would be thrilled to have a professional humour columnist come to their home and fulfil the following responsibilities:
"9:30 a.m. -- pour milk on breakfast cereal.
10 a.m. -- let the dog out.
10:01 a.m. -- let the dog in."
I was sorely tempted to fill Peter's slothful slippers, but that was before I noticed what we people in the news business refer to as a "trend."
This trend involved the fact that every third or fourth email I received begged me to pick "Dan The Man Day" as the big winner.
Reader Leanne Woolston may have put it best: "Dan the Man is my friend. My favourite red-headed Irish chum.
"He deserves to have a holiday in his name because he can dance like a devil, with his devilish good looks and devilish red hair.
"But he is not a devil. He is a man with a heart of gold, and a 1,000-watt smile."
AFTER reading many similar pleas, I finally got to one from -- you guessed it -- Dan The Man himself.
It seems Dan Falloon, 19, was inspired by an example in the original contest column in which I joked we could celebrate "(Insert Your Name Here) Day."
"I deserve to have a holiday named after me because I am the epitome of a Manitoban," Dan wrote. "I'm a friend to all, a subpar motorist and know almost everyone in the city or know someone who knows those I don't."
Therefore, because Dan showed real "Spirited Energy" in harnessing the power of the Web and persuading his friends to lie for him, he is OUR GRAND PRIZE WINNER.
I am pleased to report that I met Dan in person and he is an extremely pleasant young University of Winnipeg student who looks exactly like an oversize leprachaun.
In a wide-ranging interview with Dan, he told me (a) he would like to have his day on the third Friday in February; (b) he truly is "the man" and (c) we should use his day "to have fun and take it easy."
Because Dan is a university student, I can't actually do his "job" for him, but I have promised to attend his Rhetorical Criticism class and take "really good notes."
In conclusion, I fully realize that I cannot actually compel the province to recognize "Dan The Man Day," but that's not the point.
The point is, in holding this contest, I was trying to bring a ray of sunshine into our dreary, frostbitten lives and make Manitoba a better, warmer place in which to live.
firstname.lastname@example.orgA) Very Serious Suggestions
Dozens of readers sent in various
versions of the following:
1. Firefighters Day
2. Firemans Day
3. Firefighters Memorial Day
4. Firefighters and Paramedics Day
5. Firefighters and Uniformed Peace Officers Day
6. Fallen Heroes Day
7. National Firefighters Day
8. Fans of Firefighters Day
9. Brave Heart Day
10. Saint Florian Day
11. Louis Riel Day
12. Cindy Klassen Day
13. Sergeant Tommy Prince Day
14. Nellie McClung Day
15. Suffragette Day
16. Heroes Day
17. For our men and women of Manitoba overseas day
18. Izzy Asper Day
19. Service Recognition Day
20. Bravery Recognition Day
21. Police, Fire & Emergency
22. Hug a Firefighter Day
B) Less Serious
1. Meditative Monday
2. Sanity Saver
3. Reflect and Recharge
4. Freedom Day
5. Manitoba Monday
6. Motion Monday
7. P. O. M. Monday (Peace of Mind)
8. My Day Monday
9. Spirit Saver
10. Memory Monday
11. Happiness Holiday
12. Fun Day
13. Heritage Day
14. Family Day
15. Valentine's Day Holiday
16. My Manitoba Day
17. Voyageur Day
18. Beat the Winter Blues Day
19. Winter Heritage Day
20. Rejuvenation Day
21. Wellness Day
22. Friend and Family Day
23. Celebrate Manitoba Day
24. Civilian Day
25. Maple Leaf Day
26. Pioneer Day
C) Not very serious
1. Lassitude Day
2. Local Celebrities Day
3. Chillax Day
4. feBRRRRRRRuary Break Day
5. Sun Dog Day
6. Shackwacky Day
7. Sprinter Day (a cross between a winter day and a spring day)
8. Chili Holiday
9. Useless Holiday Day
10. The Government Finally got Something Right Day
11. Ragged Ass Day
12. Income Tax Day
13. Sanity Day
14. Winnipeg Winter Day
15. Statutory Blizzard Day
16. Red and White but Never Blue Day
17. Never Re-elect the NDP Day
18. Frostbite Friday
19. Freakin Freezin
20. Stay in Bed Day
21. Finally, I'll be Left Alone Day
22. Go Ahead, Make my Day
23. Manitoba Mental Health Day
24. Feb-fun Day
25. Eh! Day
26. Slacker Day
27. Moribund Manitoba Monday
28. Winnipeg Winter Welief (how do you spell relief?)
30. Cabin Fever Long Weekend
31. Freaky Friday
32. Hump Day
33. You Really Don't Want Me At Work With This Seasonal Affective Disorder Day