Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks 2012

Every year, the President of the United States declares a national Day of Thanksgiving.

This tradition began with our first President, George Washington, and continues to this day. Eventually, the date was set at the fourth Thursday of November. Every year, the day before remains the worst day to travel anywhere on the Easter seaboard.

The aforementioned origin of the feast is, of course, the official mainstream American (that is, Protestant) line.

The fact is that the idea of a day for giving thanks in America is (naturally) a Catholic one. It was brought to the New World by the Spaniards, more than half a century before those Protestant upstarts farther north along the coast.

Robyn Gioia was a fifth-grade teacher from St Augustine, Florida. A few years ago, she published a book, America's REAL First Thanksgiving.

An article in USA Today elaborated ...

What does REAL mean? Well, she's not talking turkey and cranberry sauce. She's talking a Spanish explorer who landed here on Sept. 8, 1565, and celebrated a feast of thanksgiving with Timucua Indians. They dined on bean soup ...

The article is worth reading, and worthy of reflection for those who underestimate the Catholic heritage in what is now the USA. It might be one more positive by-product of a growing Latino population, that the birthday of Our Lady was the true inspiration that we would have reason to give thanks.

When I was married, it was a day to ensure that everything was perfect. Children who grow up with alcoholic parents have a way of making that a priority, giving themselves a sense of control over their surroundings, and telling themselves that all is right with the world, even when it is not. In the years that followed, from the 1990s onward, it varied. They say that no one should be alone on Thanksgiving Day. But one year, I was, and I managed to find an IHOP that was actually open that day (as this was over a decade ago), and had a traditional turkey dinner with all the "fixin's," all by myself. At the time, it beat the alternative.

It's been easier these days. As this is written, Paul is in the living room, sleeping on the couch, having caught the early morning flight out of Atlanta for BWI. Following the usual rapid-fire debate over what's wrong with the world, he needed to rest up before tending bar tonight. He'll make more in tips for three nights in DC, than he would for ten nights in Atlanta. He knows where the money is.

He won't be alone, but at least it's something of his choosing. The major "big box" stores like Target and Walmart have discovered that their employees don't really need a day for giving thanks. Given the not-so-living wages they dish out, they might be right. But all the more reason to make their little minions come into work today, at the regular non-holiday rate, to get a jump on Black Friday, so that other people can ruin their holiday voluntarily, by getting great deals on stuff for which they will drive all over town, when they could order it online on "Cyber Monday" (which is what I'll probably end up doing).

It seems a long time ago, but it was only last year that Nordstrom showed its admirable restraint.

At Nordstrom, we won't be decking our halls until Friday, November 23rd. Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours,

Happy Thanksgiving

Nordstrom will be closed Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, our doors will open to welcome the new season.

And so, later today, we'll head out to the western hinterlands of suburban Virginia to a friend's house, and from there, after dropping Paul off at the subway, proceed to her family's place. A vast table will be spread, and I won't understand a word most of them are saying -- but more than they think I know. You got that right, pare!

I could do worse. I already have. Here's hoping for you, dear reader, in spite of everything, to have reason for giving thanks.

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