Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving, Politicians, and Turkey

My family and I hope that your Thanksgiving was wonderful. If you didn’t celebrate, whether it be for reasons of geography, or of choice, we hope that your Thursday ranked among the better ones you have had the fortune to encounter.

In case you missed it, it snowed across much of the United States just before Thanksgiving.  The Weather Channel named this winter storm Boreas. I don’t think naming a storm makes it more personable. I think, instead, that most people ignore the name and just run screaming into the grocery store for milk, bread, and eggs.

Storm Boreas struck my neck of New York State on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The timing of the storm caused a great panic. People, who normally put off shopping until the day before Thanksgiving were horrified to learn that they might have to go a day early. This put many procrastinators in a state of great agitation, conflicted over whether to shop a day early, or hope that the storm was not so powerful as to keep them from the store on Wednesday, so they could put off shopping for one more day.

As it turns out, Old Man Boreas was not as bad as it could have been. The roads were bad during the overnight hours, so travel was not bad during the day. The heavy wet snow caused a large section of tree to fall across the powerlines in our back yard, but we still had power. That is until a transformer blew a couple blocks away; then we lost power. 

Photo courtesy of Eldest @pianowoman94

The snow made Thanksgiving look more like Christmas. 

Photo courtesy of me

Thanksgiving has its roots in the history of the “separatists” coming over to the new world. Apparently, the in-boat movie for their trip starred John Wayne, and many of the youngsters on the trip kept calling each other Pilgrim; the name stuck.

After landing in the new world, the Pilgrims set up a colony and then decided to have a feast. The native people, Wampanoags, feasted with them. They feasted on shellfish, deer, corn, squash, but no turkey. After much painstaking research I discovered why they did not have turkey that first thanksgiving. A local First Grader told me with all certain seriousness, “The pilgrims didnt have turkey that first thanksgiving, because turkeys weren’t invented yet.”

It is my opinion that the first turkeys were invented around the time of the first elections. This has also led to the tradition of the President of the United States pardoning a turkey on the day before Thanksgiving. It is such a heart-warming ceremony, seeing how politicians look out for each other.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jonah, Monstro, and Mr. Bunko

 This past Sunday, the pastor of our church spoke from the Old Testament book of Jonah. You, I am sure, are familiar with the story. Or are you? Apparently Jonah was swallowed by a fish. It was Pinocchio and his creator, Geppetto, who were swallowed by a whale. Jonah was vomited onto dry land by the un-named fish, and Pinocchio and Geppetto were sneezed out of Monstro the whale. They then surfed and paddled to safety from the enraged Monstro, who pursued them angrily.

During the sermon, my mind wandered back to elementary school, where we had a student teacher who had a great idea.

Understand that I was in elementary school in the ‘70s. This was the decade of free love, earth day, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and macramé. In the midst of this mix of craziness, a college senior had a great idea.

This young man, whom I shall call Mr. Bunko, was enthused about saving the earth, teaching the youth of the world to read and write, and passing on a deep appreciation and commitment to saving the earth from being destroyed by people.

How did he accomplish these lofty goals with only a few days in the class room?

He had his students each write a letter to the emperor of Japan, asking, pleading, reasoning with him to stop killing whales. I diligently wrote, after thinking about it for quite some time (I was an excellent procrastinator even as a young boy).

I knew that whale hunting was a big business in Japan and employed many people. I reasoned that if Japan stopped hunting whales, many people would not have a job and that would be bad. Therefore, in a stroke of genius, I offered the emperor of Japan my allowance.

Mr. Bunko was unimpressed. He called me to his desk, which wasn’t really his desk; he simply was squatting in my regular teacher’s territory. I do not remember his exact words, but he was not happy with my offering the emperor of Japan my allowance. He seemed to think that this was a silly, trifling thing that would not, could not, sway the supreme ruler of
Japan to stop a huge industry with a long and important history to his country. And he demanded a re-write.

I don’t think I ever did that re-write.

He was right about my letter. Yet, I was crushed. From that day I hated writing, especially letters. Now, today I write a letter to Mr. Bunko.

Dear Mr. Bunko,

Many years have passed since I wrote that letter to the emperor of Japan, the letter in which I offered him my allowance if he ended the practice of hunting whales. I was saddened by your reaction to my writing. I am still sad to this day. I am not sad because of your words to me; I am sad that you did not recognize the absolute natural genius sarcasm I wrote in that letter.

Honestly, did you think that 23 letters written by elementary school students from New York would change his mind regarding this large and historic industry. Students, not from the great city of New York, but in a medium-sized city in a part of the state that many people forget is even there. Students who were not even residents of that city, but lived in a nondescript suburb of that medium-sized city. I am sure that those letters produced as much change in the emperor’s attitude as my promise of turning over my measly allowance would have.

Today I realize the sarcasm that naturally flowed into that letter, and I am proud.

Therefore, as an adult, a parent, a writer, and a lover of education, I demand you re-write your lesson plan. I expect the revisions on my desk by the end of the day.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Hate Shopping

Here, where I live, in New York State, we had our first accumulating snow of the season. To narrow the geography down a little bit, I live in the western portion of New York State. For those who are unaware, there is a lot of real estate in New York that doesn’t include New York City.

When the snow started to fall, around 7:00 in the evening, I happened to be driving for work. My co-worker and I began to sing Holiday songs. His humor being as warped as mine, we created our own lyrics that were slightly amusing, at least to us. Lyrics like, “Oh the weather outside”

Since Halloween, the Christmas shopping advertisements have started on television, and the snow only added to the impending sense of Christmas. The church I attend has, for the past few years, invited the congregation to participate in Advent Conspiracy. I encourage you to check out the website and read about it for yourself. I especially like the idea of spending less; doing less shopping. I hate shopping.

Let me clarify that it is not the act of shopping that bothers me the most. I shop, but when I shop, I like to get all Walter Mitty and imagine I am on a CIA rendition. I swoop in fast and low, grab the target, pay off an official on the way out, and escape before being spotted by the enemy.

The things that bother me the most in executing my mission are an unspecified target, civilians milling around impeding my progress, and long lines at the border check points.

I am quite thankful that Beloved understands these things and that is why we start our Christmas shopping in October and are usually done by Thanksgiving. We take a couple of weekdays and get out to the mall as the doors open. We shop until the crowds start to swell; and by swell, I mean more than 10 other people in the store.

I am always amazed at how people can safely drive to the mall; they follow all the rules of the road, keeping to the right, neither speeding, nor impeding traffic, and entering  traffic safely. Then they arrive at the mall and immediately upon walking through the doors, lose all common sense. They walk against the flow of traffic; they enter the flow of traffic without looking both ways, and stop without warning in the middle of the lane of traffic.

This addlepated perambulating is infuriating.  

That is why I hate shopping so much, and so, Beloved has a detailed plan when we shop. She knows which stores we are going to attack,which packages we need to extract, and what is a reasonable amount to be paid to each border guard. Every step is planned out. Our Christmas shopping rendition complete, it is now time for my favorite part of the holiday season, eating cookies.