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In Praise of Groundhog Day

“How do I know there will be a tomorrow? There wasn’t one today!” – Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

Families are strange and wonderful things. In American society, even greatly extended families gather around the table at Thanksgiving, around the tree at Christmas, and around the grill on Independence Day. Further, practically every family has its own unique or at least odd traditions and rhythms around family members’ birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, and the like. However, my wife’s side of the family (the Vance family) has a holiday tradition unlike any other I have ever encountered: The Groundhog Day Party (GDP).

The GDP started as a gathering date between the holiday giants known as Christmas and Easter. It was such a long stretch not to get together as a “full group.” The date worked well as a bridge. Coupled with the fact that the film Groundhog Day already enjoyed “Vance Family Classic” status, the opportunity for a themed party was ripe. Over the years, this party has included many groundhog-themed t-shirts, games, and foods (no actual groundhogs have been consumed, mind you), along with the film playing on a loop at each GDP. This past year, the men received groundhog-embroidered neckties. For me, wearing a tie indicates that there is a 95% chance someone close to me died. Not tomorrow (hopefully!). I will wear a groundhog-embroidered tie to work in all of its multi-brown-toned, groundhog-on-the-lookout glory and I will wear with a light heart (see image below and my tie is overlaid on last year’s Groundhog Day t-shirt. The groundhog attire is all made by my wonderful mother-in-law).

This is all very odd and wonderful. Family is weird and magnificent. Try explaining the process of marriage, human conception, gestation, birth, growth, and development stripped of bias and listen to the insanity of that process. But, families (at their best) stick together. We gather together. Sometimes it is a birthday, other times a holiday. Still other times it is a funeral or a marriage. Sports can accomplish it. Church can as well. Music, too.

And, in most families, an oddity or two can do it. One reason our family gathers is because a large rodent in a small Pennsylvania town looks for his shadow every February 2. Of course, it is more than that.

Stay weird, friends. Stay family.

— Cort Basham

Cort Basham is the lead singer and songwriter of Redfoot. You can find their “Winnowing Fork” LP here.

One thought on “In Praise of Groundhog Day

  1. With global warming on this rise, and given our recent very warm winter… do you worry this tradition may be in jeopardy? Worst case, a somber reminder of the world that was?

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