Two days after Halloween, with mini Snickers wrappers still littering the sidewalks and dollar store ghosts blowing in the trees, Iím walking the dog through Tampaís Hyde Park Village headed toward the pretty pumpkin patch they put up every year.
But wait. Where pumpkins were just piled stands a two-story, fully-festooned Christmas tree complete with star on top.
Arenít pumpkins relevant at least through Thanksgiving ó you know, that other major holiday we might want to at least acknowledge before the frenzied Christmas buying madness begins?
But hereís the bigger question: Why do we Americans insist on trying to change time instead of just letting time do its thing in its own time?
A case in point is tonight.
You will go to bed and, miraculously, wake up with an extra hour in your day to do with as you wish. Itís the "fall back" part of daylight saving time when we set our clocks back an hour and go back to standard time. (Except for the digital clock in my car, which will take me weeks to figure out how to change.) That luxurious extra hour tomorrow will be way better than a certain Sunday last spring when we set the clocks forward and grumpily woke to one less hour in our day.
All that switching around affects our circadian rhythms. Some studies say it can even affect our health.
A lot of us call it daylight "savings," like weíre putting time in the bank so we can spend it later. So whatís the purpose of all this saving of daylight? During daylight saving time, the sun rises later and sets later, so we do it for more daylight, or at least to make better use of the daylight. Itís said we do it to save energy. It also turns out to be a nice extra hour after work.
And, I would submit, we do it because we want to control everything down to the length of the day.
But wait, you might be saying. Didnít lawmakers up in Tallahassee just this year pass a bill to put us on daylight saving time year-round, meaning later sunsets all year?
And more important, meaning no disruptive twice-a-year changing of clocks and schedules and those aforementioned circadian rhythms?
They did. And then the whole thing got stuck in the muck in Congress, which must approve it and does not appear likely to any time soon. It hit opposition from TV broadcasters worried about us getting late night shows really, really late and parent and teacher groups not happy about kids catching the school bus in the dark, among others.
To me, the problem isnít to save daylight or not ó itís the switching back and forth. Canít we just pick one and make it year round?
Yes, we would have been the first state to go to all-year daylight saving. But since when did Florida act like anywhere else? And hey, maybe weíd inspire the rest of the country. We already deal with differing time zones across America ó donít East Coast fans complain about Monday Night Football starting so late? And somehow the Republic does not crumble.
If we really want to control time, maybe we should pass a law that says no officially celebrating the next major holiday ó or the one after that ó until the one going on is over.
For now, I guess we just enjoy that extra hour. While it lasts.