Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving week.

If you were looking for the weekly rant Monday morning, I'm sorry I missed. I've been a little sick. Nothing much, as it turns out, just a cold.

So, what do we have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

First of all, health, family, love, belonging, working, not being dependent on others.

The good sense to leave Gannett four years ago and not having to go through the horrible situation those left at that wretched company have to go through. The company's bottom line is getting better, the stock is going up a bit and these yakkers on television say it's because advertising is coming back. Baloney. The bottom line is rising because the company has fired half the staff.

The ones who are left are those who got the company into the horrible shape it was in in the first place.

But I digress. Things to be thankful for.

Personally, it's a wife who puts up with me, kids who have are really good people and those who are married have married really good people and are raising children who are really good people. So what if two of the boys are hellions.

I also have been able to support myself and my family with my labor and still am in no danger of needing anyone else's help. Sure, the savings has diminished, but it's coming back.

I'm thankful that the University of Connecticut football team was able to get itself together to be Notre Dame, one of the great programs in the nation. Yes, the Fighting Irish are not having a great year, but UConn also is suffering after losing one of its stars to a horrible and unnecessary murder. But this was a great win and everyone in Connecticut should be proud.

Things to be thankful for. Share yours, if you wish.

Black Friday

There is something to be said for racial memory, that memory with which we are all imbued depending on one's background.

For example, Jews talking about the Holocaust are sharing a set of thoughts that need not be expressed verbally. It's a base that every Jew, from Orthodox to secular to converted away, still shares.

Christians have that about Christmas. There is a set of values and beliefs that go without saying, that are buried in your consciousness. It's like instinct.

So, never having been a Christian, I don't get it when it comes to Christmas. I've gotten into trouble because of it. Once, when I was in charge of the Monday paper in Westchester, there was a fire. Nobody was hurt, although a few people were left homeless. Nobody died, nobody was injured, so I put a photo on the front page and ran the story and photos big on the local section front. The photos were good, but not prize-winners.

On Monday when I came into work, I was pilloried for not using the story on the front page. How could I? What was the big deal? Nobody was hurt. But, I was informed, the fire destroyed several families' Christmas presents. The children might have to face Christmas with no presents. Why didn't I blow out the front page with the story and start a collection to buy Christmas presents for these children?

I still don't get it. That's me. No racial memory of Christmas. To me, the whole thing about Christmas is a story about a certain guy who was the basis of a worldwide belief system. Giving gifts seems secondary, but that's all you hear about.

I still don't get why every last radio station has to play nothing but Christmas carols on the eve and the day, why every television station has to run sappy movies.

And I don't get Black Friday.

Last year, some poor guy was killed trying to stem the tide of manic people trying to buy Christmas presents. People show up at 4 in the morning, 5 in the morning. Still, in spite of that horrible tragedy. Stores are trying to mitigate the danger, but won't halt the practice.

I guess I'm not the only one.

From now, actually for about a month now, people are running around buying Christmas gifts for people they don't even like. And each person gets multiple gifts.

When I was much, much younger, I had the opportunity to spend Christmas with the family of a girl I knew. I was shocked. I brought one gift. These people, who were not in the best economic circumstance by any means, must have showered each other with a dozen gifts each.

To be completely truthful, friend wife and I once stood on line at midnight at the late and much lamented Comp USA. The line was long but moved quickly. We got a portable hard drive and a couple of thumb drives. It wasn't too bad. But other people were just starting their day, talking about going from place to place starting at 4 in the morning.

Sorry. I just don't get it.

But in any case, have a great Thanksgiving.

Until next time...