Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Eve of Thanksgiving, or Franksgiving

At this moment, I should be up to my elbows in pie crust, bread dough, and cake batter.  Instead, I’ve decided it’s much more important to update you, my dear readers, on the latest from suburbia as Thanksgiving approaches.

At my house, the guest bed is waiting to be made up in anticipation of visitors.  A 15 lb. turkey is thawing nicely; I hope it’s big enough.  My menu for tomorrow is traditional and simple.  Family gatherings are stressful enough without wondering if a new recipe will go over well.  As much as I would like to decorate and set a gorgeous table, I’ll settle for just the good china on the table and clean bathrooms and a tidy family room.

In my neighborhood, folks are getting an early start on their Christmas decorations.  Last night, as I returned home from a Thanksgiving prayer service, I counted 4 homes with Christmas lights blazing on just the few streets that make up my usual route.  Nothing new there.  In fact, I wrote a post about it last year.

So what’s the deal with “Franksgiving?”  I discovered a fascinating piece of history about American  Thanksgiving that I’m sure I was never taught in school.  According to Wikipedia:

Abraham Lincoln’s successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. But in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition.  November had five Thursdays that year (instead of the usual four), and Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression. At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. Fred Lazarus, Jr., founder of the Federated Department Stores (later Macy’s), is credited with convincing Roosevelt to push Thanksgiving back a week to expand the shopping season.

Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln. People began referring to Nov. 30 as the “Republican Thanksgiving” and Nov. 23 as the “Democratic Thanksgiving” or “Franksgiving”.

Huh.  Who knew that retail craziness extended all the way back to The Great Depression?   After all these years, then, retailers still push the limits to get even more shoppers in the door on Black Friday.  I can’t get too excited about various stores deciding to open their doors at midnight instead of 4 or 6 a.m.  I kinda feel bad for the store employees, but they’ve got to realize by now that working in retail brings crappy hours.  Get over it.  Military members, first responders, medical professionals all get stuck working on holidays, too.  I don’t feel at all sorry for the people who want to be first in line at the doors of Wal-Mart.  Yeah, they probably have to eat their turkey dinner at 8 a.m. or even the day before Thanksgiving to win a place at the front of the line.  If saving a hundred bucks on a flat screen TV means more to them than enjoying the holiday, that’s their problem with priorities, not mine.

I’m not a die-hard Black Friday shopper.  I have lined up outside of Target in the past.  It wasn’t pleasant.  People were either jovial and giddy or downright nasty jerks.  It rained and was cold.  I had my sister with me to make the best of it, though, and we did manage to snag the items we had our eyes on.  I haven’t made up my mind about this Black Friday yet.  I think the forecast is for rain, so I might have an easy decision.  You most certainly will NOT find me in the line snaking around Wal-Mart.

Now the mixer and flour bin beckon.  I leave you with the words of George Washington:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits…[may we] then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country…, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence,…for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness,…for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

May we be truly thankful.

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Can I Get an “Amen?”

From Michelle Malkin.  I would only add that these guys give the “Occupiers” the benefit of the doubt on having a useful work to get back to.  Oh, and these folks in uniform are the 1 %, you know.  That is, less than 1% of the U.S. population has served in the armed forces in the last decade.

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was similarly blunt in describing the “Occupy Wall Street” movement:

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Thank you, Speaker Gingrich.

I wonder if anyone in New York City is worried about the possibility that these protesters might disrupt the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  They have already threatened violence.  Is the Department of Homeland Security on top of this?  Will anyone else be as disgusted as I will be if “occupiers” are the recipients of donated Thanksgiving Day meals?

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Some Random Post-Veterans Day Thoughts

Veterans Day fell on a Friday this year.  Hot Dog!! A 3-day weekend!!  That’s the widely shared sentiment, right?  The media generally pays lip service to veterans on this national holiday, and this year was no different.  News shows aired some moving stories about aging World War II veterans as well as currently serving vets.  Sports broadcasters took a few moments to recognize those who serve.  All levels of government and most schools closed in honor of the day.

The cynic in me knows, however, that a 3-day weekend for Veterans Day really means a weekend getaway, a shopping extravaganza, or at the very least, 3 straight days to sleep in.  A Tuesday Veterans Day, on the other hand, is just an interruption in the week.  You can’t make any big plans because you have work or school the next day.

I try to do something meaningful each year on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, etc.  This year, I dragged the whole family to daily Mass at 7:30 a.m.  Our parish church had a special celebration in honor of veterans along with a flag raising ceremony at the parish school.  I live in an area with a huge concentration of military families, both active-duty and retired; and my parish has experienced the loss in combat of several parishioners during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Mass was fairly well-attended for such an early hour on a Friday morning.  It got me thinking, though:

  • Where are the young veterans?  Perhaps many of them had to work if they don’t hold a government job.  Certainly in my area, though, the number of folks who either work as civilians for the government or serve on active-duty is enormous.  In a parish of 2000 families, only a handful felt this was an event worth attending?  Of course, this is a question asked by many veterans organizations, too, according to this Fox News story.
  • Are older vets more proud of their service than younger ones?  At church that morning, many white-haired veterans donned their old uniforms for the occasion.  Those who were not in uniform wore jackets or pins or ribbons announcing their service affiliation.  Young veterans don’t often do this.  You just don’t see them sporting “Proud to Have Served” apparel.  And most young active-duty service members are loath to put on a uniform when not on duty.
  • Speaking of uniforms, I saw a veritable timeline of uniforms on Friday morning.  One old chap wore his green Service Uniform with the pants tucked into his boots.  This seemed unusual.  I think it has something to do with being a member of an air assault unit.  Incidently, I have since learned that the green Service Uniform has been phased out in favor of a blue version.  No more olive army green??  The new blue uniform was on display, too.  You can always count on the Marines to appear smartly dressed, and the Marine dress uniform never seems to change.  The Navy Service Dress Blue is pretty consistent as well.  Air Force uniforms are a different story altogether.  They change every few years, bouncing from commercial airline pilot look to Army copycat to a WWII throwback style.  Good luck with all that.
  • Military discounts for Veterans Day are great…except when they aren’t.  I shopped at an XXI store (I think this is part of the Forever 21 brand.) over the weekend.  When the clerk saw my military ID, he stated that they were offering a 15% discount for military in honor of Veterans Day.  The catch was that if I took the discount, the merchandise would be considered Final Sale–no returns.  What’s with that??   Strings attached?
  • Finally, if you are the President of the United States placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month: GET THERE ON TIME!!

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I’ve Got a Crush on You…

Don’t tell Cap’n Handy.  I’ve got a major crush on Mark Steyn.  I turn on the radio at noon, hoping he will be filling in for Rush Limbaugh.  Sometimes I even turn off the radio if Rush is doing his own show.  Recently, I bought Steyn’s latest book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.  I know.  Doesn’t the title make you go weak in the knees?

I’m pacing myself, trying not to devour the whole book in one sitting.  After all,  one can only consider Armageddon for so long before despair sets in, right?  Not if my guy Steyn is telling the story.  He has this wry brand of humor that distracts his readers from the “we are so doomed” certainty and gets them laughing out loud instead.

Regarding New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his inability to manage the effects of the snowstorm of December 2010:

His Big Nanny administration can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger, but he can’t regulate it on to Seventh Avenue.  Perhaps if New Yorkers had appeared to be enjoying the snow by engaging in unregulated sledding or snowballing without safety helmets, Nanny Bloomberg could have scraped the boulevards bare in nothing flat.

Describing the ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand treatment of the Fort Hood massacre perpetrator:

Old watchword: Better dead than red.  Updated version: Better screwed than rude…And “Allahu akbar?”  That’s Arabic for “Nothing to see here.”

On his reasons for writing After America:

Nobody writes a doomsday tome because they want it to come true.  From an author’s point of view, the apocalypse is not helpful: the bookstores get looted and the collapse of the banking system makes it harder to cash the royalty check.

Funny and smart.  Sigh.

But one can’t read Steyn and nothing else.  As I was perusing one of my favorite sites for information about news and politics from an ethics standpoint, MercatorNet.com, I came across this piece by Mona Charen on moral relativism.  She discusses a study indicating that more than half of the 18-23 year-olds surveyed believe morality is a personal choice: “Moral rights and wrongs are essentially matters of individual opinion.”  So there are no moral absolutes.  Cheating: whatever it takes to pass, and grades are just some oppressive and artificial construct anyway.  Stealing: not good if it’s my stuff but OK if you are taking stuff from the rich to give to the poor.  Violence: what’s wrong with roughing up “the man” in the name of justice for the worker?  Murder: This one’s tricky, but it’s definitely fine if the soon-to-be-deceased is pre-born, terminally ill, or hopelessly sad (especially if a resident of the Netherlands).

Hard to believe?  Not really.  We are surrounded by the “no judgments” motto–in schools, support groups, online chatrooms, even Occupy Whatever gatherings.  It’s little wonder young adults pooh-pooh morality.  I weep for the future.

After such heady and depressing reading, it’s time for more Steyn.  He may be sounding the death knell of Western civilization, but at least he has a punchline.  Coming to page 203, I read these words:

Once it’s no longer accepted that something is wrong, all the laws in the world will avail you naught…Beating up a 96-year-old isn’t wrong because it’s illegal; it’s illegal because it’s wrong.  Not offering your seat to a 96-year-old isn’t illegal at all, but it’s also wrong.  And, if a citizen  of an advanced western social democracy no longer understands that instinctively, you can pass a thousand laws…and they will never be enough.

OK, so that wasn’t really funny at all.  But, how fitting.  Smart, funny, and timely.  Sigh.  I’m sure more comedy awaits on the next page.  Mark Steyn would never leave me despairing about a future full of “moral cripples” like Ms. Charen does.  (Sorry for throwing you under the bus, Mona.)  Maybe he will be hosting the Limbaugh program today.  Maybe he will publish a really witty column.  I’m not a stalker.  Really.  This is purely an intellectual thing.  Really.

 

 

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