SAK: I hate Groundhog Day

My frustration with Groundhog Day taught me a valuable lesson about identifying areas for positive change in my life.
A frowning groundhog sits in a blizzard while his shadow sports an evil grin. (Hustler Multimedia/Sofia El-Shammaa)
A frowning groundhog sits in a blizzard while his shadow sports an evil grin. (Hustler Multimedia/Sofia El-Shammaa)
Sofia El-Shammaa

Every year since 1877, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has traveled to Phil’s home at Gobbler’s Knob to receive his prediction for the arrival of spring. If he sees his shadow, he’ll be scared back into his hole — signifying six more weeks of winter. If he stays out, that means we’ll have an early spring. This February will be no different.

This holiday is utterly ridiculous. I am usually the type of person who enjoys a little bit of ridiculousness. Several aspects of this day – dressing up in a stupid outfit, marching down to a groundhog’s home unannounced with a film crew and declaring to the world the prophecy he gave you – are, in my opinion, as good of a way as any to spend a Friday morning in early February. 

Yet for me, Groundhog Day is always a frustrating experience. 

I grew up in Michigan where the winters are notoriously brutal. The first snow of the season would often hit on Halloween, and the last wouldn’t come until after Easter. We could go for weeks on end with nothing but clouds in the sky. School would be canceled not just for snowfall, but also for temperatures so low that it would be unsafe for kids to ride the bus.

I remember driving home from work one night in a blizzard. The car was so cold the radio wouldn’t turn on, so I drove in silence. Visibility was terrible; to my left, I saw a car spin several times  almost in slow motion. It slowly slid to a stop — thankfully without any collisions. For the rest of the way home, I drove even slower and thought about how I would react if the next car I passed spun into my lane.

This meant that each year, when a prescient rodent from Pennsylvania claimed insight into when this misery would end, I was so desperate for relief that I wanted to believe him. I knew there was nothing serious or real about what Phil had to say, but a tiny part of me just wanted some glimmer of hope, even if the messenger was some dude in a top hat holding a chubby squirrel. 

I was always disappointed with the results because I knew what was really going to happen. If the groundhog claimed an early spring was coming, I knew we were still at least two months from the possibility of consistently warmer weather. When Phil ran back into the dank, dark hole that he came from, I knew we had far more than six more weeks left of winter. A holiday meant to celebrate the changing of the seasons instead served as an unwelcome reminder of how far away I really was from the greener pastures.

Every year, I went through the same cycle: the groundhog says whatever he says, but winter still lasts a couple more months and I’m no better off than before. This vicious cycle repeated itself so many times that I was one Sonny & Cher song away from Groundhog Day, the holiday, becoming Groundhog Day, the movie. In order to break out of my personal Groundhog Day time loop, I had to stop concerning myself with some rodent who was scared of his own shadow and direct my attention towards what was really bothering me: the miserable northern winters.

My moment of realization came when I was driving home in yet another blizzard and decided I had had enough of living in the cold. I parked the car, stormed into the house, sat down at my computer and took a virtual tour of Vanderbilt’s campus. A couple years later, I moved into a Hank double in the scorching heat of the Tennessee summer. 

It took the revelation and acknowledgement that I was frustrated with something bigger than Groundhog Day for me to get to a point where I could make a change in my life. It didn’t matter what the groundhog declared was in store for the next six weeks because it was the six months of gray skies, slushy roads and being stuck indoors that was truly infuriating. Once I had recognized winter as the real problem, I could formulate a plan to escape it by adding climate as a consideration in my college search. If I hadn’t come to this realization, I’d probably still be pouting atop my proverbial Mt. Crumpit like the Grinch who stole Groundhog Day.

I still dislike the holiday, and when Phil makes his announcement this Friday, I’ll roll my eyes. But then I’ll move on because I have learned to contend with my misplaced anger and address the larger issue. 

It’s only after we get to the root of our problems that we are able to solve them. So this Groundhog Day, take some time to think about where, in your own life, you may have misplaced anger and work on redirecting your efforts towards fixing the real problem. If you do, happiness will come early this year. If you don’t, you can probably expect six more weeks of whatever is bringing you down.


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About the Contributors
Daniel Sak
Daniel Sak, Senior Staff Writer
Daniel Sak (‘25) is from Shelby Township, Mich., and is majoring in human and organizational development, political science and communication studies in Peabody College. Outside of The Hustler, Daniel serves as the president of Anchor Marketing. He can be reached at [email protected].
Sofia El-Shammaa
Sofia El-Shammaa, Staff Writer and Photographer, Data and Graphics Staffer
Sofia El-Shammaa (‘27) is majoring in political science and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When they’re not writing or making graphics, you can find them with their cat, Mochi, watching bad movies or reading good books. You can reach them at [email protected].
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2 months ago

leave phil alone