by Mike Smith
Why do I celebrate Columbus Day?
Well, aside from it being the festive climax of and the reason for the whole Columbus season, I suppose you could say I appreciate the friendly reminder it provides me to stop for a moment, slow down, and remember all that Columbus did for us.
When Columbus was growing up in Nazareth with Jesus, for instance, it was, of course, Columbus who taught Jesus how to fly. “Look into your heart,” he told his best friend Jesus, it says in The Bible. “The power to fly is in your heart.”
In medieval England, Columbus arrived just in time on a magic carpet and saved King Arthur from being killed by Merlin the Wizard who had eaten a poisonous mushroom and gone crazy and begun attacking everyone with wand blasts, pulling Arthur up to safety without a second to spare.
And later, when World War II was in full swing, it was a quietly whispered word from Columbus that caused Hitler to leave the battlefield, gather his thoughts, and commit suicide.
But that’s all history though, of course.
I suppose the real reason Columbus Day is important to me is a personal one. I suppose it has to do with a morning in Tempe, Arizona, in 1984, when, as a five-year-old boy, I was trying to teach myself to skip on the sidewalk in front of my parents’ house—trying, and failing—failing, and failing badly.
Near tears, I was just moments from giving up forever, when a strange but gentle-looking man appeared nearby me, clad in a filthy black captain’s hat and black smock made of some sort of filthy oilcloth. He mumbled some words to me in what I think was Italian, pointed at the different parts of my legs, pantomimed a graceful skipping motion, and then—suddenly—I just understood everything. In a flash, skipping just made sense, and I went skipping down the road, transformed.
Since that day, I’ve never missed a Columbus Day. Since that day, I always light the Columbus candles. Since that day, I always wear my Columbus-style under-belt. And since that day, wherever I go, I skip…and I skip with Columbus in my heart.