Don’t you just love this time of year that maxes out credit cards and unites families to revisit arguments from the year before? And how better to exhibit this joy than redecorating your house with cheap junk made with sweat labor from Asia.
There are those of us who no longer consider ourselves part of the religious community we were raised in but will be hosting family affairs this Thanksgiving where most attendees still, to some degree, consider themselves committed Christians. Should we concede to the expectations of our family and guests or stick to our convictions as a matter of principle and avoid the traditional prayer?
“I was almost afraid Politics was going to set us apart this year but you know that would never fly with me. So, let’s do as the Holiday suggest and Give Thanks for all the many Blessings throughout the year and catch up on all our Family’s well being. Amen”
It’s that time of year again for me to roll out my Thanksgiving humor piece. This will be the 2nd year I’ve posted this on my blog but the third year all total from the time I first posted it on the AC Content site, now known as Yahoo! Voices. That means some of you will have to indulge me one more time while others will see it for the first time. I hope the 2nd (and third) times for some of you (yes, I’m thinking of you Donna) will still enjoy it. Maybe by next year I will come up with a sequel or something altogether new. In the meantime, here’s Tom Turkey’s view of life in the too-soon-to-die lane.
Have a Safe and Full-filling Thanksgiving Holiday !
Though it’s the date we celebrate each 4th of July, it is the direction that the signing of our Declaration pointed us in that needs to be acknowledged each year and fulfilling the aspirations that great but less than perfect men had designs for which remains a work in progress still today.
I’m particularly fond of the 4th of July holiday because it is one of the major holidays whose significance is not associated with the church. That institution, while giving us some of the better virtues we admire, none-the-less gave us the Crusades and the Inquisition while also spawning such infamous social responses to perceived evil like the Salem Witch Hunts and the rise of the KKK to stymie and prevent efforts at racial integration. But Independence Day is tainted with its dark side too.
Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and all the men who affixed their names to that document declared in it the high principles about how “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Yet all of the signatories were white males and most of them owned slaves. Those who didn’t were of the common opinion of that time that blacks were inferior to the white race and that women were unqualified to serve in politics. The woman’s domain was the home and their role was to be in obeisance to their husbands. Equality was not intended to reach these populations back in our infancy as a nation.
This aspect of our history was omitted in history books as I grew up and I’m sure the Texas Board of Education will ensure that this continues today for many school children. But I don’t raise this issue to put a downer on everyone’s celebratory mood by pointing out that the people who put the concepts of freedom out there for the world to emulate and fight for were far from perfect. On the contrary. The fact that they were, and still had such high ideas, shows that they were perceptive enough at least to open the door to a view of liberty that most sovereign national leaders were unwilling to submit to their subjects at the time.
There’s a sense among those who identify with the Tea Party today that somehow we have lost who we were after gaining our independence from the English royalty and feel an urgent need to regain it. From what I can tell, they seem to be oblivious of the fact that only wealthy, white male property owners were the primary benefactors of what they wrought after deposing British rule and the freedoms that were eventually gained for the working class, blacks and women had to be dragged out of this elite group over the next 200 years through battles in American courts, streets and the battlegrounds of the Civil War.
The “take America back” crowd seems more inclined to “give America back” to the corporate wealth that dominated American culture during the Gilded Age of the 19th century. The rich are seen by those who hold libertarian views as exceptional and should be allowed to promote business, unfettered from government oversight. Justice for their transgressions should be viewed differently or even set aside so they cannot be inhibited from encouraging wealth and economic growth. The poor and middle income working class on the other hand are expected to deal with the negative impacts of corporate malfeasance that causes them to lose their jobs, homes and retirement savings. Industrial pollution to air and water supplies is allowed at what are deemed “tolerable” levels as long as jobs don’t suffer, while health care costs for lung diseases and cancers resulting from such contamination continue to escalate and corporate profits take more out of each premium dollar we pay for insurance.
There really isn’t all that much we need celebrate about the 4th of July, 1776 other than our predecessors took that first step to insure the quality of life they addressed in the Declaration. What’s more important to celebrate on this special day is the gains we have made since then over the last 236 years to ensure that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has been achieved by a wider variety of people than originally conceived and that we still have inroads to make with other disenfranchised groups, especially gays and Muslims.
Contrary to the views of the Tea Party supporters and those Supreme Court justices that adhere to a specious interpretation of our Constitution known as “original intent”, there is sufficient evidence that many of those imperfect men who laid out the original outline that our laws were founded on understood that human social dynamics would change conditions and some adaptations to the Constitution would be necessary. To subjugate the visionaries of early America to a level that holds back progress and change by insisting that unless they declared it as such in their time, future generations had no right to adapt the law to their needs going forward. Men like Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Gouverneur Morris, James Wilson and Alexander Hamilton would be insulted today I suspect.
Today we no longer have to worry about other nations threatening our freedom for we have become the most formidable power on earth. Yet there are those who would threaten what the founding fathers envisioned and reduce the republican form of government they crafted in Philadelphia back in 1787 to that of a plutocracy. The power of corporations has grown to a level today that people like Jefferson, Adams and Lincoln feared would destroy this great experiment in justice and liberty.
On the surface we are made to feel that we’re still the captains of our own fate but underneath is a system by which the rules of the game favor the wealthiest amongst us and not in a fashion that encourages all people to aspire to. Freedom today is more about consumer choices that marketing experts have influenced. Real freedom to participate in the competition of markets is cut off to millions who have not inherited wealth or power to afford the education or health care needed to be productive in society.
Can “free markets” really be free when it’s the accepted view that “too many chefs spoil the broth”? There’s not enough room in the kitchen for everyone. There have to be worker bees to make the goods and services available to the public but over time their livable wages must be reduced to a sustenance level in order to make cheaper goods available to more people while profits remain stable or rise for the “chefs” in the kitchen.
Those who find themselves unable to break through the social and economic barriers that exist by virtue of predominant social and financial forces constantly fear freedom is becoming more elusive to them. That factor becomes evident in the view held by some Americans who pine about an America that not only no longer exists, but should never exist again. The one where only the elite gentry had the advantages over everyone else and excludes you today if you tend to fit any other image that doesn’t put laissez-faire self interests above all else.
So celebrate this national holiday in the spirit it was intended but do so in light of the fact that freedom is not and never will be a given. Understand that there are those who disguise themselves as patriots but who really only want a world where only their values have sway over everyone else and who want to acquire vast sums of wealth with little regard for how it affects the community of man they are a part of.
“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.” - Bill Cosby
Based on Bill Cosby’s evaluation of it you might presume that no matter what people tell you about it you’re apt to be surprised none-the-less about what fatherhood actually entails. It is the experience itself, not the knowledge of it, that can never be accurately conveyed for what awaits a new dad. Here is my attempt in a humorous fashion to set your expectations.
About two weeks ago I wrote a piece on Frank Capra’s inspiring 1946 film “It’s A Wonderful LIfe”. Of the two things that I mentioned that have endured in my life from watching that film, one of them recently played itself out for me. The George Bailey character in the movie, played so marvelously by Jimmy Stewart, was given an opportunity to see what the world would be like had he not been born. On this aspect of the film I commented:
Most of our actions are daily and seemingly mundane but everyone of us have perhaps said or done something once in our life that has made an impact on another and perhaps altered their life to some degree. Were we always aware of how our comments and actions are filtered by those we come into contact with, we might weigh them more prudently and less-selfishly.
Today, I stepped out my front door on my way to the mailbox and almost tripped over a beautiful potted Poinsettia.
I thought at first that a friend of my wife’s had left it for her. She seems to do a lot of “secret Santa” type stuff each year. But the note attached to the plant dispelled that notion and left me just a bit astonished. It had obviously been typed out on a computer printer but it was so informally written as to give me the sense that it was handwritten. I was moved as I read it.
We have lived on Emerson Lane near Woodrow Wilson Elementary School for the past 15+ years. During this time, we have driven past your home on our daily commutes to school, work, church grocery stores. (Piggly Wiggly), etc.
Each Thanksgiving our children watched with anticipation for Santa and Mrs. Claus kissing under the huge star on your roof.
It was officially the Christmas season when “Santa and Mrs. Claus by the Pig Store” when(sic) up!
Our kids (twins) are 22 years old now and of course “The Pig Store”” is long gone.
Thank you for providing a Christmas Tradition to our family.
The letter was signed but I’ll withhold it here for reasons that respect the lady’s privacy who signed it. I do not recognize her name even though Emerson Lane is a mere two blocks just north of my house. The “Pig Store” she’s referring to is the Piggly Wiggly grocery store that shut down a little over a year ago. They simply weren’t profitable enough to compete with Kroger’s nearby and the Super Wal-mart store a few miles from here. The building remains empty to this day.
“Santa and Mrs. Claus” are two hardwood cutouts my wife bought some 15 plus years ago from an acquaintance who did this type of art work as a hobby, but one that provided a small income for them, especially during the holiday season. It’s anchored to a front brick facade on my house as seen here.
Santa is holding a sprig of mistletoe over Mrs. Claus’ head to entice her for perhaps a farewell kiss before he summons Rudolph and friends to set out on their annual global trek.
The star on my roof is five strands of miniature lights connected together that I have hand-fashioned into the shape my heretofore unknown admirer and her kids have enjoyed all of these years. I marked the star’s point spots with a colored caulk that matches the roof shingles so I can easily locate them each year without the hassle of trying to successfully achieve each year what I was able to do on my first effort nearly two decades ago.
Several of our friends have commented on the star and one businessman that lived around the block from our home some years ago (and who has since moved) stopped by to ask one day how I had created a star that size that looks reasonably symmetrical in its design. “Got Lucky”, I told him. But I made sure that it wouldn’t be luck in the future by marking the star’s points.
Each year as I age it get’s a little tougher to put out the Christmas decorations. I did stop putting up lights along the front facia trim and up the ridges of the roof because it was just becoming too physically taxing. I was going to stop laying out the star also but my wife, who really get’s into dressing up the house, keeps encouraging me each year to continue. I think the fact that so many of her friends comment on it each year makes her feel that it’s important to not let them down. But it wasn’t until we received this poinsettia and the note that if became clear to me how much something as simple as this not only gave her friends a few weeks of pleasure each time they passed by but how it has become a “Christmas tradition” for an entire family that we have never even met.
I now realize that until my body is completely crippled, I must find the energy each year to put Santa and Mrs. Claus up, stealing a kiss under the make-shift “Star of David”, lest I ruin a moment of delight for a few of my neighbors. The crass commercialism that this holiday has become a part of has ruined the mood for me as I’m sure it has with most everyone else. But now there is renewed meaning for me. One that reaffirms the emotional joy that only children can exude from seeing symbols of the holiday that enable their sense of anticipation for that special morning under the Christmas tree.