When Steven Keck and Jyn Hall decided to celebrate a holiday every day of the year during their difficult year of 2018, they had plenty to choose from. Too much, in fact.
First of all, there are so many so-called holidays in a year, from Talk Like a Pirate Day, to Blame Someone Else Day, to National Dress Up Your Pet Day, that, in fact, there are more holidays than days in the calendar.
Some days have “official” holidays stacked seven deep. (And that doesn’t include such honorary months and weeks as National Win with Civility Month and World Breastfeeding Week, both of which take place in August.)
Posting a photo on Facebook and Instagram every day, the Gwinnett couple started paying homage to more than one holiday at once. On Nov. 14, they simultaneously celebrated Operating Room Nurse Day, National American Teddy Bear Day, Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day and National Spicy Guacamole Day. In the photo, surgery, a teddy bear and an avocado were involved.
But their resolution to make each day a celebration ran into a problem. They were spending from 30 minutes to an hour or more hunting down props, costumes and locations to create such tableaux as National X-Ray Day and National Cappuccino Day (visualize radiologists hoisting X-ray images of coffee cups).
“By the third week in January, we thought, ‘What have we got ourselves into?,’” said Hall, an actress with a steady gig producing and directing children’s music videos. “We thought, ‘We need to quit.’”
Then they considered their growing online audience.
Some said the amusing photos were a bright spot in the day. Others said the daily posts kept them from giving up on social media.
So Keck and Hall have soldiered on. This month, they enter the home stretch. They’ve been through 335-or-so days of celebrating Broadway Musicals Day and Dogs in Politics Day and Hug a Bear Day. One or the other has dressed up, at different times, as a Gregorian monk, William Tell, a cat burglar (for Cat Day), Lucille Ball, Janet Leigh, Tony Perkins and both title characters from “Lady and the Tramp” (for Spaghetti Day).
They have learned many things. They’ve learned how England lost 11 days. (Hint: It has a little something to do with that Gregorian monk.) They learned how to enjoy hiking while posing as a mermaid. And they’ve learned that hard times aren’t so hard if you focus on what’s important.
Last year, Keck, 44, was out of a job and hustling to try to get his own consulting business off the ground. Keck and Hall had been through other challenges before. He is a cancer survivor. As a result of his treatment, the two can’t have children.
While in the middle of transitioning from one job to another, they realized that the time they had together, their faith in God and the delight of each new day were more important than worrying about the future.
“As we came into the new year, we decided we wanted to celebrate in the midst of it,” said Keck. “When it came down to it, we could have had a really rough year, but we really just focused on celebrating every day, doing something creative together. It gave us a lot of energy and kept us positive.”
They decided to amuse themselves and their friends each day with a new photo. The feedback they heard made it seem like they’d made a good decision. “People were saying we encouraged them, we brought laughter for them,” said Hall. “Things like that made us say, ‘This has gotten to be bigger than us.’”
Among their fans is Holly Gotfredson of Atlanta, who wrote, “You guys have literally put a smile on my face every day this year with all your calendar shenanigans.”
Some of their posts have been funny enough to be dangerous. For National Boston Cream Pie Day, they coaxed their Boston terrier, Duchess of Kendall, into a pie pan, then adorned the pup with whipped cream. When faithful follower Patty Bremner Brubaker of California saw the image, “I had to lean over to the trash can cuz I snorted my coffee out my nose!” she wrote.
On Alfred Hitchcock Day and Stapler Day, they decided to re-enact the shower scene from “Psycho” with a stapler. (Even though the photo is PG-rated, that image got some questions from Instagram.)
Now that the year is almost over, Keck has a major consulting client, and he and Hall are closer than ever. They haven’t planned anything big for their last day, but the end of the year has made them reflect on how much fun they’ve had, and how many friends they’ve made all over the country.
Their experience on Day #21, National Hug Day, served as a foretaste of the year to come. They began offering free hugs. First to friends, then acquaintances, then strangers. No one refused.
They cherish that sense of connection. That will never go away.
But they’re ready for someone else to do the Instagramming.