National Do Nothing Day is in a league of its own

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By Greg Summers

On Thanksgiving, we celebrate with turkey and pumpkin pies. The center of Christmas is the birth of a savior. Valentine’s Day is sweetened by chocolate and overly-sentimental cards.

Mother’s Day is flowers, treating mom to lunch and a little extra pampering.

Veterans Day is filled with parades to honor our servicemen and service women for their sacrifice.

We even know what we’re supposed to do on Earth Day, World AIDS Day and Arbor Day.

However, there’s one holiday, or technically, an un-holiday, that has me bamboozled.

This Saturday, Jan.16, is the 37th annual National Do Nothing Day.

Fed up with what he called our endless obsession with holidays, American journalist Harold Pullman Coffin introduced us to National Do Nothing Day in 1973.

The Web-site, www.faqs.org, gives Do Nothing Day a No. 7 ranking on its list of “Most Bizarre National Days.”

It falls between Ask a Stupid Question Day (No. 6) and National Cheeseburger Day at No. 7.

By the way, National Beer Day, which has no assigned day and is “whatever day you want it to be” tops the list.

Now, given their names, you can see it’s relatively easy to celebrate those occasions.

But National Do Nothing Day is in a league of its own.

Technically, it’s not a federally-recognized holiday, but it should be. After all, Congress hasn’t done much in years.

Coffin’s goal with National Do Nothing Day was “to provide Americans with one day to just sit around without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.”

OK, I think I have it.

Well...maybe not.

Trying not to do anything may be a little harder than it seems, (unless Washington, D.C., counts).

Boy, this is one day that is a technical contradiction in terms.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines nothing as “something of little or no value, seriousness, etc.”

I mean, think about it; if you decide to sleep late, you may have to get up and hang that little “do not disturb” sign on the bedroom doorknob.

Isn’t that doing something on National Do Nothing Day?

The phone rings off the hook and you chose not to answer it.

Is the decision not to answer the telephone doing something? What if I turn up the radio volume to drown out the ringing phone, does that count?

To complicate matters even more, if I roll over and go back to sleep, I just did something, right?

One of the celebration recommendations is to spend the day reading books about, you got it...nothing.

But, doesn’t reading count as doing something? Another suggestion is to spend the day talking with friends while drinking coffee. But somebody has to make the coffee. If they did, that means we just ruined their holiday.

Can you understand the confusion?

I guess I’ll just sit around Saturday, staring at the walls.

Wait...that won’t work, either. Technically, that's doing something, too.

Oh well, below are two do nothing recipes to enjoy on National Do Nothing Day.

Do Nothing Cake is a simple dessert that goes great with the coffee and conversation, if you can talk someone into making the coffee (see above).

Lightly-seasoned Do Nothing Chicken tastes as good as it looks.

If you follow the poaching directions to the letter, the chicken won’t be undercooked or overcooked.

And if you’re really serious about celebrating National Do Nothing Day as it is meant, prepare both dishes the day before. That way, you’re covered.

You know, I can hear it now; I call a friend Saturday morning and ask him, “what are you doing today?”

“Oh, nothing much,” he says.

Given that answer, he already has a leg up on me.

Do Nothing Chicken


Boneless skinless chicken breasts

Chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 can golden mushroom soup

Brown rice


– Place chicken breasts in a skillet. Add in just enough chicken broth to cover chicken. Add in bay leaves, oregano and salt and pepper. On medium heat, allow chicken to boil for exactly two minutes. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let sit for 20 minutes.

– Make brown rice and golden mushroom soup according to directions. Serve chicken breasts on brown rice and cover with soup.

– Recipe by Gregory A. Summers

Do Nothing Cake

Cake ingredients

2 cups flour

2 cups Splenda (or sugar)

1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 large eggs)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

Cooking spray

Icing ingredients

1 stick margarine

1 cup Splenda

2/3 cup low fat evaporated milk

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup coconut


– Preheat oven to 350 degrees

– In a large bowl, combine flour, Splenda, egg substitute, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract and pineapple until well-mixed. Pour batter into a greased 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

– To make icing, combine margarine, Splenda, evaporated milk, in a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until Splenda dissolves. Add nuts and coconut. Spoon icing on top of cake while both are still hot.

– Recipe by Gregory A. Summers; inspired by AolFood