Sunday, November 18

Anticipating Thanksgiving

The Food Network has been showing past Thanksgiving-themed episodes of Chopped and the Thanksgiving hotline with some of the more luminary of the Food Network stars to answer questions.  The Black Friday commercials are increasing.  The shelves of the grocery stores have been featuring typical Thanksgiving ingredients for a few weeks now.

If I had to choose a favorite holiday, it would be Thanksgiving.  Yes, because it's about food, but also because it's about family (however you might choose to define "family") and friends.

For the past several years I've been fortunate enough to be part of a group of friends who celebrate Thanksgiving in large, fine style.  There are a number of people who contribute to the food, bringing wines and favorite side dishes and desserts.  There are conversations in different corners and spaces of the house.  People drift from conversation to conversation, stopping to nibble at the appetizers.

Some time later, people start to put dishes on the table.  Soon the turkey is carved and earnest eating of the Thanksgiving fare begins.

Dinner take some time as people talk, compliment and comment on the food, talk about family traditions, and just enjoy the company.

There are those who need to leave early to make a dessert stop elsewhere and others who come to join the crew for dessert.

The undercurrent is one of thanks.  Thanks for friends, for family, for possibilities, for options.  Thanks for all that we have and that from which we have to choose

The context of that first Thanksgiving was to celebrate survival; to celebrate and be thankful for those Native Americans who helped ensure that survival.  It was, in some respects, a way of paying forward.

If you are one who is able to celebrate Thanksgiving, who will have a table crowded with food, who will be in the people whose company you enjoy, be thankful.  And think of those who do not.  Those for whom Thanksgiving might be another seemingly meaningless day for any one of a number of reasons.  Those who may have lost much in the fury that was Superstorm Sandy or in the circumstances of its aftermath, or in other tragedies through which so many often struggle just to survive.  And if you have a chance to help a food pantry or a soup kitchen, or if you can contribute to one, or if you can write a check to Meals on Wheels or a local charitable agency or religious organization that provides for those in need, please do so.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. -Thornton Wilder

Tuesday, November 6

Election Day 2012

It's here.  At last.  Election Day.  Soon the irritating election signs will be additional detritus for someone to clean up, though certainly those eager beaver electioneers aren't quite as eager to collect their signs as they are to post them everywhere there is a scrap of open space.

Just the other night I read two interesting pieces.  One an opinion piece titled "My plea to the undecided: Stay home!".  Mr. Greenfield is rude, condescending, and alarmingly close to being an idiot, in my personal opinion.

Another piece is titled "Why 40% of Americans Won't Vote for President," which is an interesting and informative little ditty worth reading.  I'm intrigued by the observation that people don't vote because it is inconvenient.  No, let me restate.  I'm appalled by the observation that people don't vote because it is inconvenient or that we might somehow suffer from too many opportunities to vote.

I don't think people are undecided so much as they are overinformed, but many of us recognize that we aren't really overinformed because there isn't a single candidate who tells the truth.  They shade the truth or skirt the truth because they have way too many messages for way too many groups, and they alert to and wary of when and how the media might pounce.

I'm smart enough to know that I'm not only overinformed, but underinformed. . . and because of the truth shading and truth skirting and the negative ads and all of the other bullshit that comes along with electioneering.

I also recognize my hypocrisy.  I didn't vote this year because, quite frankly, I didn't want to.  I'm not undecided.  I just don't know enough about any of these candidates to make an informed decision.  I wish electioneering hadn't become a sport in this country.  I wish that politicians and the media hadn't turned such a remarkable right and opportunity into what seems like a guessing game for voters and a game of "gotcha" for political campaign groups and the media.

I hope you did go out and vote.  I hope you exercised what is and should be a sacred right.  I hope that as part of your right to vote, as part of that freedom to express your opinion, you also gave pause to think about the implications of your vote as well as about how we have allowed our political system to become a game of sorts to far too many people.

People like to blame the media for all sorts of things, and often rightly so.  But we have given them that power by being interested in the salacious.  The media claims to give the people what it wants and we seem to want to be a mean-spirited, trash-talking, tattle-telling, bullying, and petulant society.

Think about that as you think about the direction of this country and the people who might best be able to pull us from our tailspin of incivility.

Oh, and try to be nice to each other today.  As a friend of mine said the other day, "Being nice matters."