Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Worst Free Calendar Idea Ever

By Susan Esther Barnes

When I picked up the mail tonight, I found a large envelope that said, in large letters, "Your free 2011 calendar enclosed." It was from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Anyone who knows me well knows I have a soft spot for free stuff. It's really hard for me to pass it up. I see those commercials from Kashi offering to mail me a free snack, and I want so badly to go to their website and have them send me one, even though I still have the unopened free box of cereal they sent me two years ago.

Not only that, but somehow I never picked up one of those free Jewish calendars at the synagogue this year, so I still need a calendar for 5771. I ripped open the envelope in anticipation, expecting to not only get something free, but a free thing I would actually use. A double win!

I pulled out the calendar and flipped to February, my birthday month. It's arranged like you'd expect, with a picture and caption on the top and the calendar part on the bottom.

To my dismay, the quote on the top part of the page with the picture starts, "Again we sleep on the barren floor - no blankets -" while the caption at the bottom starts, "Michael Kraus had just turned 14 when he was imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau with his parents. After witnessing the deportation of his mother and then the death of his father..."

This is what I want to look at and read about while I'm celebrating my birthday? And every page is like this, with quotes from diaries of people in the Shoah (Holocaust) and bits of their bioagraphy.

Ok, it's from a Holocaust museum, what did I expect? Remembering the Shoah is important, but it's not something I want to be reminded of every single day of my life. It would be a little hard to celebrate anything with that staring you in the face every single day. And we deserve a chance to celebrate. We didn't survive just so we could go on grieving forever.

Plus, it isn't even a Jewish calendar! The Jewish months are not marked on its pages. Not even the phases of the moon are shown to give a hint of when each Jewish month starts.

I want to throw it away, because I will never, ever use it. But part of me wants to keep it as an example of what can happen when marketing goes very, very, wrong. Plus, it was free!

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