What Is a Weekend? Happiness Defined

By Heitman, Danny | Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Winter 2017 | Go to article overview

What Is a Weekend? Happiness Defined


Heitman, Danny, Phi Kappa Phi Forum


On this Friday, as in all others, millions of people will wish each other a good weekend, inviting the question of what a good weekend might be. The standard here, like the ideal of happiness, is deeply connected to the caprices of personal choice, as well as the whims of experiment. Weekends are the working laboratories of happiness where, if we're lucky, time allows a few furtive hours to embrace what makes us smile.

Careers can bring their own forms of happiness, but while school and work require us to be what others expect, the weekend is where we go to become, quite simply, ourselves. A weekend, like a wardrobe, indulges individuality, although a few universal principles seem to apply.

One common truth is that a weekend's sharpest pleasure comes in anticipation. Rebecca Lee captures this beautifully when she writes of "Friday afternoon, when the air is fertile, about to split and reveal its warm fruit--that gold nucleus of time, the weekend."

On Friday nights, a household comes alive like a city liberated from occupation. Perhaps a pizza arrives at the front door, summoned from the deliveryman to inaugurate the evening sloth, which might include binge-watching Netflix. The weekend seems endless.

On Saturday morning, the alarm clock stays silent, or at least holds its tongue for longer than the weekday reveille. "Actually, Saturdays as part of the weekend have seriously eroded," Barbara Holland once lamented. She complained that "what was once a day for picnics, sandlot baseball, and pruning roses has degenerated into a day of errands and housework." Holland has a point, although even Saturday's obligations have their charms. The trip to the grocery evokes our hunter-gatherer past, and mowing the lawn echoes, ever so faintly, the traditions of the yeoman farmer. The newly stocked fridge carries the pleasure of plenitude. …

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