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Groundhog Day and a Decades-Old Debate

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day and a Decades-Old Debate

For most of my readers, Groundhog Day came and went with not so much as a minor news blip indicating a particular rodent’s prognostication regarding spring. Or maybe you tuned in to see if Groundhog Day held hopeful news in the midst of wintry weather forecasts. But it probably didn’t cause  much of a ruckus in your world when Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring last week.

Growing up in the Ainsworth family meant an annual argument in the days preceding Groundhog Day. A good-natured argument, to be sure, and nothing to do with the length of winter. Today, I thought I would share an excerpt from my first book, Lines in the Gravel, to remember good times and Groundhog Day in our home.

His Versus Hers

One of the most entertaining arguments in the Ainsworth home throughout my teenage years was the Dad’s holidays versus Mom’s holidays debate. It was a good-natured quarrel, rooted in the fact that by then, they both had solid jobs with good benefits. Dad was a trailer mechanic with Yellow Freight, and Mom was a rural letter carrier for the United States Postal Service.

In all fairness one received about the same number of paid holidays as the other. Outside of the big six, though, their holidays did not often line up with one another. The argument would start something like this:

Mom (with a competitive grin): “I’m off work tomorrow!”

Anyone else in the family: “Why, what’s tomorrow?”

Mom: “Columbus Day.”

Someone else, usually me: “Really? Columbus Day? So, which one of the many Columbus Day celebrations will you be attending this year?”

Mom: “Well, what about the days your daddy gets off work?”

And then it was on. Back and forth it would go. Veteran’s Day (Mom). Anniversary with the company (Dad). President’s Day (Mom). Birthday (Dad). The birthday holiday was a particular special one to Dad since he was born on New Year’s Day; that meant two consecutive days off for him or overtime pay if he chose to work either day.

The four of us kids always sided with Dad, probably because Mom usually started the friendly squabble—remember, we had a heightened sense of fairness. Mom’s case against Dad’s holidays being more “out there” was certainly legitimate, however. We would accuse Mom of getting Valentine’s Day off, inquire as to the date of Earth Day that year, wonder how she planned to celebrate Arbor Day.

Our coup de gras was Groundhog Day. Like many of the others that we included on her holiday list, she didn’t actually receive Groundhog Day as a holiday, of course. Even after I went away to college, I tried to remember to call her every February 2 and ask if she had enjoyed her holiday. When I would forget to call, she would often call to remind me. This went on until she retired from the postal service. Funny how a playful argument can turn into a connecting point.

My parents have both long since retired now. Several years ago, I was attending a conference in Jackson, so I called them to see if they could meet me for lunch near the conference site. I love my Dad’s response: “Shoot, we’re retired. We can do what we want.”

Indeed. Whether or not it’s Groundhog Day.

Read other stories like “His Versus Hers” in Lines in the Gravel, available in paperback and e-book.Groundhog Day


About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell. Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and Coach Dave: Season One. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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