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How I Got Leap Day Wrong Twice Without Trying

Once every four years, the calendar gifts us with a day in defiance of our ordinary rhythm of time. February 29th is and always will be a special day for me.

But Sean, don’t you have like 47 days like that every year, because you’re absurdly sentimental?

Well, yes, though 47 sounds like a slight exaggeration. Still, leap years have more magic than those other days because they stand as the calendar’s gift to us all. A bonus track in the album of our lives.

Ancient Greeks paused Olympic training to celebrate the gift of an extra day. The day is a timekeeper’s nod to cosmic balance, correcting our human-made calendars to the Earth’s celestial rhythms, offering us an extra 24 hours to catch up with the sun, while also catching our breath.

Days blend into weeks, and weeks into months. How can an extra day not feel magical? I greet leap years as an invitation to pause, reflect, and embrace the possibility of an additional 24 hours.

How did I spend the last day when Earth corrected her calendar? I’m embarrassed to admit that I remember zero specifics, but there is no doubt I was working. 

  • In 2000, I got off work early, then me and Cindy went to see Wonder Boys, followed by dinner at Cafe Piccolo, the restaurant where I would propose to her the following year.
  • In 2004, our daughter was two years old and Cindy was five-months pregnant with our son, so we were already on a long hiatus from movie theaters. But we did order dinner from Piccolo and get our food to go, despite it not really being that kind of place. Then the three of us had a carpet picnic on our living room floor.
  • In 2008, we had our preschool and remained committed to our wee ones from sunup to sundown, but we explained the magic of leap year to our children and made art to celebrate. We were fortunate enough for the celebration to fall on a Friday that year, so that meant an extra late bedtime after a double feature of Ratatouille (still one of my top three Pixar movies) and Meet the Robinsons.
  • In 2012, Sterling & Stone was in its infancy, but our newest baby had not yet become so all-consuming. The non-holiday fell on a hump day that year. Besides worrying about the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, I clocked out early and we greeted the children when they came home from school with a special dinner and desserts. We were living in Cincinnati, so there was no Piccolo, but Cindy’s cooking was killer by then, despite our local Kroger not stocking cilantro. Note: We were not really worried about the apocalypse.
  • In 2016, I can’t for the life of me tell you what I did other than work. Sterling & Stone was eating my face by then. Our daughter was fourteen and our son was eleven, and both in a stage where they gave less of a shit about magic while their father failed to remind them. For the first time in my adult life, leap year was just another day.
  • In 2020, Sterling & Stone was moving even faster, our children were even older, and we were clueless to what the rest of that brutal year had in store for us. For the second leap year in a row, I let the magic slip through my fingers.


Today, I’m fucking off to spend my day with Cindy. It’s dark outside and I still have a few stories to tell before she wakes up, including saying hello here. We plan on watching lots of Sopranos (it’s 25th anniversary and our second time through), and finally eating some pasta after our last 28 days without carbs.

You could treat leap year like just another day, or you can use it to alchemize a memory. I’ve done both and there’s no comparison.

You’re probably reading this long after I wrote it, but the next time February 29th rolls around, why not embrace the wonder of a day that stands outside of time?