More Thanksgiving Awesomeness

Different version of Embracing the Awesomeness of Thanksgiving post. With more ranting, as promised.

It’s almost impossible to avoid. The temptations are everywhere. The radio, the mall, up and down your street. America has a problem. We’re all cheating on Thanksgiving and it needs to stop.

This truly American holiday gets lost between Halloween and Christmas. It’s Wendy’s to McDonald’s and Burger King. It’s Coors Light to Bud Light and Miller Light. It’s the Admiral Ackbar of minor Star Wars characters. Appreciated? Yes. Quickly discarded? Also yes.

Thanksgiving has become the tailgate before Black Friday. It’s the get together after we put up our Christmas decorations. We’re completely dismissing the meaning of the day. Which is of course football. And carbs. And gravy. Probably beer too.

Why is Thanksgiving awesome? Well, it’s opposite week as Bails told me. Only go to school for two days and we’re home for five. That is excellent reasoning. Not going to work has sort of become an American custom under this administration. I mean if we’re going to spend money we don’t have, we may as well stay home from work too.

Seriously, why do we have Thanksgiving? Well, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, we’re all taught that back in the fall of 1621 the pilgrims were so happy that they didn’t die in what would eventually be Massachusetts that they partied. This was the last thing that happened in Massachusetts that wasn’t taxed. True story. Anyway, they invited the locals, or townies as they are sometimes called, and they killed some deer, boiled some pumpkins and collected berries and stuff like that. Then they ate it and all sat back rubbing their bellies and unsnapping their suspenders or whatever it was that pilgrims used.

A little while later, George Washington decided that the last Thursday in November back in 1789 should be a day of thanksgiving for all 13 colonies. I think it was just a polite way of spiking the football in the redcoats face! Or we could have been happy that powdered wigs were leaving with the Brits. Regardless, it didn’t catch on right away. Most because football hadn’t been invented yet.

Abe Lincoln, using ol’ George as a guide, understood we needed a day of thanks after literally killing each for a few years back in the 1860’s. So he made the last Thursday in November officially Thanksgiving. For every year after that every President issued a proclamation making that day Thanksgiving. Until FDR. Still find it sort of amazing that Thanksgiving survived the Wilson administration since nearly nothing else American did. Anyway, back to FDR. Back in ’39 the nation was still suffering the effects of the Great Depression. Weird considering prohibition was repealed in ’33. So retailers went to the White House and asked the president to move Thanksgiving up a week to increase the number of shopping days before Christmas. Why we needed the approval of the president to begin shopping isn’t totally clear. So FDR, unable to contain his need to intrude into economy, moved the day. Sorta like Jim Delaney and college football. Despite the outcry, FDR did it again in 1940. Finally in 1941 Congress, in true congressional fashion, split the baby. They made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November meaning sometimes it would Franksgiving and sometimes it would be the last Thursday in November.

That’s a lot of history to ignore as we’re eating our Halloween candy and hanging our Christmas wreaths. But we do it. Although it could be that we’ve simply deformalized Thanksgiving. Which is okay. Its one of the reasons Turkey Day is my favorite holiday. Plus you get two Fridays…

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Embracing the Awesomeness of Thanksgiving

This post appears in the opinion section of the Des Moines Register this morning. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Oh, I have a different version of this same post that contains a lot more ranting that I’ll post shortly.

Embracing the Awesomeness of Thanksgiving

It’s almost impossible to avoid. The temptations are everywhere. The radio, the mall, up and down your street. America has a problem. We’re all cheating on Thanksgiving and it needs to stop.

This truly American holiday gets lost in the corporate commercial onslaught of Halloween and Christmas. Thanksgiving has pretty much been rebranded as the tailgate immediately preceeding Black Friday. Not that anything is wrong with tailgating. Especially when it is centered on turkey, potatoes and beer.

We use the first unseasonably warm day after Halloween as an excuse to hang Christmas lights. Some of you are putting up your Christmas decorations before Halloween. You know who you are. The malls evidently believe Columbus Day is the official kick off of the Christmas season. Even Midwest Living magazine is doing it. Halloween stuff? Yup. All kinds of stories and pictures about pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns. Christmas stuff? You bet. Pages and pages of wreaths, snow dusted greenery and holiday tradition. Evidently turkeys and pilgrims aren’t all that marketable.

This is unacceptable. The cheating I mean, not the lack of marketing regarding turkeys and pilgrims. If anyone knows how to celebrate a holiday when its perfectly acceptable to consume nothing but gravy…and beer, its those of us in the Midwest. With that in mind here’s a quick refresher on Thanksgiving and its awesomeness.

So everybody knows that the Pilgrims left England in search of religious liberty. Two months later they arrived, signed the Mayflower Compact and quickly proceeded to starve and get sick. About a year after they landed they celebrated, with their Native American neighbors, what we’re all taught was the first Thanksgiving in America. Nobody brings up the starving part.

Regardless, in 1863 Abe Lincoln was the first to name the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving in America. Then in 1941 Congress and FDR permanently established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday. Then John Madden discovered the six-legged turkey while doing an NFL game in Dallas. Or so the story goes.

Most of my Thanksgiving memories revolve around football. And gravy. Football may be the single most important factor in my holiday rankings. Don’t get me wrong, gravy is important too but I’m 42 and gravy is on the enemies list now. Also the stuff that sits in the bottom of the turkey pan after you cook it. That’s probably bad. I mean we have a Whole Foods in town now so eating things that have visible floating fat are menu casualties. Sorry gravy. Which leaves potatoes. And cheese…and butter…can you feel that? I can. It’s an arterial blockage. Damn you cursed genetics!

Oh, I know cranberry sauce is a traditional Turkey Day deal. And I love tradition. But seriously, c’mon man. That stuff is awful. And it’s not a sauce. It’s like fancy jello.

Anyway, my point is that we should embrace Thanksgiving’s awesomeness instead of cheating on it. It is the one holiday when nobody expects anything. Well except for an abundance of carbs. I mean if gravy is out, then carbs and probably pie slide right into gravy’s spot. Notwithstanding your feelings on the whole gravy/carbs/pie debate, showing up is all anybody really expects. There aren’t any costumes. No presents. If you walk in wearing jeans, boots and a flannel shirt you fit right in. Its virtually impossible to screw it up. Nobody schedules Thanksgiving pictures. You don’t have to buy a new outfit. There’s always a James Bond marathon on TV to which you can flip during the commericals while watching football. C’mon, that’s a good holiday right there. So stop the cheating…after all Christmas is right around the corner.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

These appear to be getting better. It may simply be that the maturation of the girls has helped with behavior and learning. But we’re going with excellent parenting. Because that answer ain’t gonna work when they are all teenagers and the screaming, crying, and blaming forces me to live in a tent in the backyard.

Riley’s conference is different now that she’s in middle school. She has multiple teachers. So they set you up at a specific time in specific location and then 4 or 5 teachers tag team you. Not kidding. It’s like watching WWF from the 80’s. English teacher blitzes you then tags out, Social Studies teacher smacks you around then tags out, Science teacher lands a couple haymakers and then finally the Math teacher unloads a saturation bombing run and you’re done. We got there a little early so we actually had some time to ask questions. Turns out Rye is a good student, gets along well with others and generally causes no problems. She’s the opposite of Rachel Maddow.

Once you get done with the subjects that matter enough that they are grouped together and are a mandatory part of the conference, you are given the option of heading to the gym where the orchestra, art and gym teachers all are at tables. We took the option. Here’s what we learned. Rye is pretty good at art. And I know virtually nothing about it. Her orchestra teacher loves her. And she’s awesome at archery. Who knew?

Everyone should have a parent-teacher conference with a kid like Riley. It makes you feel like Chuck Noll after Super Bowl XIV.

Then earlier this week we had conferences for Kinsey and Bailey. Kinsey’s teacher said she “just glows.” I assumed that was a verdict on her bubbly personality and not the result of asbestos or nuclear waste in the class room. She also let us know that Kinz is a velociraptor when it comes to reading mystery books. I may have suggested under my breath that she’d enjoy the president’s deficit reduction plan. Regardless, her teacher said we might want to encourage her to read some non-fiction. I suggested Steel Dynasty: The Team that Changed the NFL. We’ll see I guess.

Bailey and her teacher get along like peas and carrots. She has the same teacher that Rye had in third grade. Rye loved this teacher too. We were very hopeful that Bails would have a good year. She is. Bails, according to her teacher, is a good student is all areas. Although we were shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, that on her report card were the comments: “Sometimes Bailey’s socializing keeps her from getting her work done,” and “Bailey’s high energy sometimes gets in the way of her learning.”

That’s sarcasm by the way.

Bailey’s the kid that would be standing on top of the cliff screaming “WOLVERINES!” if the Russians invaded. She also happens to be the kid with an abundance of self-confidence. Nearly all her notebooks, binders, etc. are labeled with her name…followed by ROCKS! As in “Bailey Rocks!” You’d think it was her last name. She also has a staggering addiction to Post-It notes. From her teacher’s vantage point, there is one desk with seven Post-Its each featuring a letter from Bails’ name along with an exclamation point stuck to the front of her desk. The Post Its also happens to glow in the dark.

So there’s that.

An App?

Taking your kids to get haircuts is a long and well tested Dad tradition. Taking your boy down to the Barber Shop and have the same guy who cut your hair as a kid cut your boy’s. But I have girls. Now don’t get me wrong, back in the fall of ’88 I thought having a pony tail was a pretty sweet way to end my first semester of college. So I do have some experience when it comes to long hair. Unfortunately, I also now have some experience when it comes no hair. But putting that aside I don’t understand all the girl hair lingo. I am not schooled in the fundementals. Sure I grew up with two sisters. But that just teaches you to be a bathroom ninja. It does nothing in regards to basic knowledge of how girl hair works. So I ask for specific, yet simple, instructions regarding what is to be done to the girls hair.

Anyway, I’m sitting patiently waiting for Bails and Kinz to be finished when the two women cutting hair and the two guys who are getting their hair cut inquire about the song on the radio. Now these women are in their 20’s. Early 20’s. Maybe mid-20’s at the oldest. Although one of them has a pretty good Mary Stuart Masterson hair style from Some Kind of Wonderful going on. So I’ve already got a bit of 80’s/nostalgia vibe going on.

The song in question is “When it’s Love.”

Haircut guy #1 and the hair stylist without the cool Some Kind of Wonderful hair are debating if the song is a Sammy Hager tune or a Van Halen song?

Mary Stuart Masterson haircut stylist speculates about an app that allows you to identify songs.

An app? Frustrated I say, “It’s a Van Halen song. 1988. Off of OU812.”

They all kinda raise an eyebrow, acknowledge my information but with that look that says, “yeah, okay, not sure you’re right about that but I’m not going to argue about it either.”

As that is happening “Any Way You Want It” comes on. The familiar pipes of Steve Perry. Haircut guy #2 starts into a story about how he always remembers this song because its from Caddyshack and as everybody knows Caddyshack is great movie.

Caddyshack is a great movie. But the two hair stylists both mention how they think they’ve seen it but maybe not.

Um, what? Is this why test scores are down across the American public school system? Is this the root cause of the Great Recession? Makes sense. We have an entire generation entering their 20’s without the ability to converse through Caddyshack movie quotes alone. Not to mention the fact that somebody actually believes that one of Journey’s classics is from the movie.

I can’t help myself. “It’s not from the movie. I mean it was in the movie, in particular the scene where Judge Smails chucks his golf club and ruins a nice couple’s lunch. That aside, ‘Any Way You Want It’ is from Evolution or Departure I can’t really remember which album. But it was a top ten hit before it was in Caddyshack.”

I’d like to say what I got were looks of gratitude and adoration. But it was more like bewilderment.

Next song is “867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone.

Haircut guy #1 is paying his bill to his stylist when she says a little reluctantly, “Oh, this is an old one too.”

I add, “Sure is. One MTV’s original staples back in 1982. Tommy Tutone actually had another video on at the same time as ‘Jenny’ but I can’t remember what it was. Obviously, it wasn’t quite as catchy.”

Next song comes on. They all just look at me.

“The Cutting Crew. ‘I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight.’ Spring of ’87.”

This oddly brings up a discussion of Rock of Ages. The movie not the Def Lep song. Haircut guy #2 is asked by Some Kind of Wonderful hair stylist if he’s seen Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise. Great movie, great 80’s songs. He replies not by answering but with, “Why was Tom Cruise in a musical about the 80’s?”

Legit question. But its answered with another question from Some Kind of Wonderful, “Oh, what was his name in the move?”

Again, eyes move towards me.

“Stacee Jax. Lead singer of Arsenal.”

Finally as we’re leaving “Paradise City” from Guns N’ Roses starts up.

I take a peek back and both stylists say, “Guns N’ Roses!”

I smiled and left. My work here is done. That’s how I ride, I’m a cowboy, I’ve got the night on my side…

Just a couple things…

We’ve all had a little over a week to deal with the election. And, I think I can sum my feelings thusly…nice going America. We let everybody with a polling firm know that we think the country is headed in the wrong direction and what did we do? What did we do!? We put EXACTLY THE SAME FREAKING PEOPLE IN CHARGE and now we’re expecting different results. I was pretty sure putting a bunch of crazy liberals in charge of Congress in ’06 and then following that up with putting a bunch of crazy conservatives in charge of the House in ’10 with the most unabashedly interventionist president since Woodrow Wilson in the White House was pretty much like kicking ourselves in the balls. We decide that isn’t working so we go and shiv ourselves this year. We actually did the equivalent of hiring Norv Turner to get us to the Super Bowl.

But listen I can appreciate a good plan executed well. For example, the Steelers trap game in the 70’s. Or any number of Poison songs between the years of 1987 and 1993. And, of course, the Obama Campaign Machine’s turnout effort.

And by “turn out effort” I mean the thousands of 18-24 androids who turned out their comrades in a victorious crusade to successfully raise their own taxes to pay for old people’s health care and pretty much put the entire state of West Virginia out of work. Nice going geniuses. But this is what we get when you let a demographic who believes a presidential campaign is just another reality show impact an election.

I mean we just let a group of people who can’t tell the difference between Joe Montana and Joe Elliot decide the direction of America. And by “America” I mean the country that most of them can’t find on a freaking globe or who just showed up at the polls to legalize pot. These are the people who can’t tell you what Magnum orders at the King Kamehameha Club’s bar – Old Dussledorf in a longneck bottle by the way. They don’t know who lost his edge and turned in his wings sending Maverick and Goose to Miramar! And they damn well don’t know who took out a non-repeating phantasm, or a class-5 free roaming vapor before dealing with Vinz Clortho the Keymaster in his effort to find Zuul the Gatekeeper.

I tell you what, being the grumpy old man is a role in which I will excel. I’m going to practice until 2016.