Iiiiiiit’s Groundhog Day!
Growing up, one of the movies that my brothers and I would watch over and over again was the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray. Bill Murray’s character gets stuck in a time loop so that every single day when he wakes up, it’s the exact same day as the day before and he’s the only person who remembers what’s going on. The Jeopardy answers are the same, the weather is the same, the same kid falls out of the same tree at exactly the same time, and so on. Over the course of a decade or so, or maybe several thousand years, depending on whose theory you believe, Bill Murray makes peace with his plight, becoming a master pianist, picking up hobbies like ice sculpture, learning how to save the life of the same man who chokes on the same bite of food in the same diner every single day.
Groundhog Day as a holiday is a very silly one and I suspect that whoever first came up with the theory of a groundhog’s shadow having anything to do with the weather was someone who had been driven slowly mad by a particularly long and dark winter.
But every year without fail, the second of February is met with media speculation and elementary school art projects in varying degrees of silliness. Are we really so stir-crazy that we think one cloudy, shadowless day will bring the springtime any earlier? Does Punxsutawney Phil, the resident groundhog of a small Pennsylvania town made famous by Bill Murray really rank with legitimate human professionals who report on the weather? What about the years when the report of one local groundhog “meteorologist” conflicts with the shadow seen by another?
Groundhog Day (the movie) was recently turned into a Broadway musical and I am rather disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to take the train up to New York for the day to see it while I was still living in New Jersey. Bill Murray, however, not only got the chance to see it but went to see it two nights in a row, wearing the same outfit. This is exactly the kind of news that makes me very happy.
Groundhog Day (the holiday) is something that I enjoy celebrating every year. Sometimes, when I was living in California, I would have friends over, pop the VHS tape into the VCR, refer to my twelve-pound mini poodle, Annabelle, as “Groundhog,” and take her on a walk to check for shadows.
Since finishing college and moving to the east coast, I’ve had a slightly more philosophical approach to my Groundhog Day celebrations. Every year, just in case of the (admittedly unlikely) chance of a Groundhog Day scenario, I clean the house on February 1st. If I am ever stuck waking up on Groundhog Day every single day for countless years to come, I figure that I might as well wake up in clean sheets every single time, or always have an empty sink and trash can, or never have to look at that weird spot on the floor.
But I hope also that (and again, it will probably never happen, but) if I were ever stuck in a time look on Groundhog Day, I would have the kind of relationship with all my most interesting friends that I could engage them in deep philosophical conversations and they would help me expand my mind. (I figure that if I were stuck in a time loop, I would spend my endless days reading every book I could get my hands on) I hope that no one would see it as out of character for me to mention a new hobby I’d taken up or that I’d changed my opinion on something important after a lot of consideration. I hope that no one thinks of me as the kind of closed-minded jerk that Bill Murray was at the beginning of the movie.
Whether anyone sees their shadow on Friday, February 2 this year–groundhog, poodle, or otherwise–I wish you all a delightful Groundhog Day full of the sorts of food, love, and experiences that you wouldn’t mind re-living.
shalom and agape
Rev Leia Rose Battaglia