samedi, novembre 30, 2013

What we lose when we lose Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving -- it really didn't begin with the Pilgrims.  Yes, they had days of thanksgiving for the harvest, for God's providence, and for their ability to survive in this new land.  (I don't know if they dealt with the moral complexity of surviving at the expense of native peoples. That's a fascinating question for those who have dug deep into early American literature).

But Thanksgiving, the holiday was institutionalized by President Lincoln in 1863. It became a reality during the Civil War, when we really probably could not have been more torn as a nation.

It was, and is, a day when families get together (and strangers are invited to share a meal). A time for celebration. A moment in the year when we take a Sabbath (broadly defined) from our divisions.

That's the ideal, anyway.  As I said in a previous post, the reality is that we are a very divided country right now -- and this Thanksgiving had, at least in the media, a distinct air of anxiety.

To my mind, opening the stores and besieging us with coupons and emails is a slap in the face of our traditions, and our sense of community.

Going shopping on Thanksgiving is so...Donald Trump.

Being behind a cash register on Thanksgiving because you have been coerced into it is so..."Brave New World."

From my perspective,  it's time to rebel against the ongoing onslaught of commerce that has infested every corner of our life.

For our health.

For our sanity.

For our brothers and sisters sake. That, in part, is what my column is about -- my attempt to rabblerouse and to stir you up a little bit.

What's your opinion? Have I overreacted?


mercredi, novembre 27, 2013

The end of Thanksgiving as we know it?

If your nutty aunt Sally argues that the earth is flat tomorrow over the stuffing and gravy, I have some advice for ya.

Sip. Nod. Sip. Nod.

Thanksgiving has long been one of my favorite family celebrations.

But apparently a lot of us are concerned the celebration will be marred by battles over politics.

That's the media theme that started to erupt this week, like a pot just waiting to fly off the stove.

Thanksgiving could turn out to be a real brawl -- a knockdown drag-out fight.

In other words -- be scared. Be very scared.

Buy lots of wine. Keep the pills on hand.

Candidly, I was starting to get kind of nervous. And I'm a big fan, since childhood.

First my friend Mollie Hemingway and her husband Mark wrote an article for The Federalist about what would happen if your "crazy uncle" showed up on Thanksgiving primed to discussObamacare. He's a scary fellow.

Oh my gosh.  JUST as you are refuting your mixed-up relatives's goofy infatuation with the huge system fail that is government sponsored health care, who ELSE shows up but his most hated cousin Hank.

Hank hates the ACA as much as his cousin loves it.  Over at the Huffington Post, writers Ashtari and Grim have provided you a script for coping with his Obamacare and Obama libels.

At the Washington Post, Sarah Kliff constructed (nicely done) a guide for coming out of Thanksgiving Obamacare debates -- alive.

Trust me, I know about eccentric uncles.

When they made appearances at our family birthday parties for elderly relatives, their most idle chatter would swiftly become the grist of legend.

Sadly, most of my uncles are gone. And I never really knew the crazy ones too well.

But I gotta be honest. I don't want to talk about Obamacare at Thanksgiving.

As the week went on, I began to develop a feeling of dread.

Let's just tally the number of media interventions we've had today.

Our local talk show, "Radio Times" had a whole hour on how to deal with conflicts at the dinner table.

"All Things Considered" did a segment with Amy of "Ask Amy" on how to deal with the nuances of Thanksgiving get together.

CNN had a segment on potential conflicts that can occur when good friends and family get together, but I honestly can't remember who spoke or what they said.  I was hiding under the elliptical.

 Is there some reason this holiday is morphing into a cross between an episode of "Crossfire" and a World Wrestling Federation match?

Perhaps we're on edge. Perhaps we're anxious. Possibly we live in a deeply divided, partisan country.

But let's not get so whooped up that we let those malign influences ruin what is a time for gratitude, family, friends and rest.

(No one, by the way, can convince me that large corporations bullying their employees into working on one of the few national holidays we all share is a good idea).

So if the conversation around your dining room threatens to become heated, take a stand for civility.

Remember that blood is thicker than water.

And for Pete's sake, find something else to talk about.

How about the latest episode of "The Hunger Games"?