National observances were created so that the president or the Congress by special proclamation could bring attention to an issue of widespread importance. A statement or press conference recognizing Black History Month (February), National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) or Military Family Month (November) guarantees that the country sets aside a moment in the spotlight, however small, for a worthy cause.

But like holidays before them, these observances have been multiplied and co-opted. Like trophies at a kids’ soccer game, everyone has to get one. No longer does one need an act of Congress or the president’s signature. Someone or some group simply makes the decree and it is so.

April, for instance, was Car Care Month, Holy Humor Month and Straw Hat Month. It was also National Knuckles Down Month. Something to do with marbles, I guess. In fact, by one count, there are at least 42 observances set for last month, and another 50 or so for May.

And they all deserve attention.

That’s why we are suggesting taking a few at a time, so each issue, cause, product and activity gets its moment in the sun.

Start with National Barbecue Month. That way you can also get the Hamburger, Salad, Salsa and Sweet Vidalia Onion months out of the way. Same with Gift from the Garden Month. Cook up some North Carolina-style BBQ, and there goes National Vinegar Month, as well. Take out your Polaroid and you can knock down both National Photo Month and Older Americans Month, too.

And depending on how much you like the people at the barbecue, you could check off Family Wellness Month or Civility Awareness Month, as well.

Healthy Vision Month and Get Caught Reading Month would seem to go hand-in-hand, as would National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National Bike Month and National Moving Month, if that last one means what we think it means. Either way, it’s a good workout, and you could end up taking out Arthritis Awareness Month and Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month at the same time.

Skip National Good Car-Keeping Month. We’re just getting over Car Care Month, for crying out loud. At least spread them out a bit. What a scam.

Instead, call in sick and take in the women’s bracket of the French Open tennis tournament, which starts at the end of May. That’s Revise Your Work Schedule Month, Tennis Month, Women’s Health Care Month and International Victorious Woman Month, all off the list. Boom.

All tired out? Just sit back, relax and breathe deep. With any luck, you’ll take out two more on the list: National Meditation Month and National Smile Month.

Ben Bragdon is the managing editor of Current Publishing. He can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter.

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