Happy Day After Thanksgiving (DAT). I won’t refer to it by that other name. I won’t keep you long. Don’t want to put a crimp in your shopping day (only 29 of them left till Christmas).
How was your Thanksgiving? Did you keep with last year’s mandates (oops, sorry, didn’t mean to bring up politics, at least not this early) and keep to just a few close friends and family? Or was this year a “return to normalcy” with everyone and their long lost cousin around the table? For the wife (Cruella) and I we fell somewhere in the middle. One son out of two, a couple of in-laws, and a few friends. The turkey was prepared in the traditional method which is a recipe culled from a long dead supermarket’s promo flier and has been our staple for over 25 years. Yeah, it’s that good, combining a crispy flavorful skin with a moist juicy meat. All the traditional sides, all the traditional pies, all the traditional post dinner comas.
And speaking of traditions, we find ourselves at the traditional start to the Christmas season. No more mocking of those who put up Christmas lights early or forgot to take them down from last year or for whom those aren’t Christmas lights at all but rather Diwali lights which frankly was over two weeks ago but hey we’ll overlook it so long as a plate of Barfi makes it’s way to my door.
It’s also three days until Hanukah or Chanukah or whatever phonetic spelling of Hebrew you wish to use. As with most, well all, Jewish holidays it can be summed up as “they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat”. If you are a religious Jew you consider it a minor holiday. If you are a somewhat less religious Jew you consider it a nice way to feel festive at a time when the Christians you work with are feeling festive. If you are an American Jew it’s a time to celebrate you assimilation into the general population while maintaining your cultural heritage. Nothing says this is my country like jelly donuts and latkes. Fried and sweet, America’s two favorite flavors.
Not to forget Kwanzaa which begins on December 26. I might be risking riling up some folks, but I really like Kwanzaa. It’s a totally made up holiday that was made up not only as a celebration of African culture, but as a response to the commercialism of Christmas. Just don’t forget to bring the gumbo.
There is also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (bring the tamales) and even National Twin Day (bring the Twinkies) . As a matter of fact, there is a holiday or celebration every day in December.
But the day that encapsulates all the other holidays we celebrate at this time of year is International Migrants Day, celebrated on December 18. All of us in the United States, yes even the Native Americans and the descendants of the Pilgrims, have in our backgrounds migrants who found their way here to a land they saw opportunity in. Some of us believe that because we made it here we can’t forget those who still want to make it here, both physically and spiritually. Some of us believe only in “I got mine Jack” and want to pull up the ladder behind themselves.
May I suggest the latter and the ladder are not American values. America has always meant opportunity. It has always meant hope. It has always meant a fair shake to any and all. It has always meant a safe haven for the “wretched refuse of your teeming shore”. It has always meant justice and fair play. We try to live up to those ideals and lately we have been coming up short in many regards. But we have to keep fighting for those ideals because as we are seeing far too often today, if you don’t stand for your ideals, you’ll fall for anything.
So this Thanksgiving, give thanks that we still have the will to fight for those ideals. And this holiday season (yeah, Happy Holidays, what’s it to ya?) keep a thought for those who have fallen short of the American Dream. Keep a hand out to those who need help. Keep your heart open and your soul full of compassion. Because America isn’t the land of I, it’s the land of we.
The most American of songwriters will take us out to that Land of Hope and Dreams.
Yeah leave behind your sorrows, let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine and all this darkness past