Before 1993, Groundhog Day was about a rodent and a weather prediction. But the Bill Murray movie of the same name changed all that and today when we say “Groundhog Day” we mean—-something we need to go back and re-do, until we get it right. Sort of a karma thing, only condensed into the same lifetime.
Here in Wisconsin (where we have our own local groundhog, Jimmy, in Sun Prairie, with the appropriate dawn ceremony), the traditional rite never held much suspense, because there’s always six more weeks of winter here. What we hope for is only two more months of winter.
But the rewind button—how many do we have? And it got me to wondering, if my characters could have had a Groundhog Day, what would they have changed? Would Henry VIII have passed on his fourth and fifth wives? Would Mary Queen of Scots have thought “Uh oh!” and fled to France instead of England? Would Helen of Troy have decided, “Nope!” about running off with Paris?
These reckless moments are what give us some delicious history, but perhaps if they’d had the chance, my characters would have erased those decisions the second time around. And my books wouldn’t have been nearly so interesting.
So…perhaps it’s a good thing we don’t have a real Groundhog Day opportunity, except to watch Punxsutawney Phil. Or our own lives might be duller. Saner and kinder, maybe, but duller.