November 19th, 2013


So Now I Am Getting Pissed

With some tongue in cheek, Rachel Maddow described the latest trend of retailers as practically A War On Thanksgiving. Black Friday, the practice of holding mega-discount sales on possible Christmas gifts the day after Thanksgiving, has expanded over the last ten years to ever earlier start times for the biggest bargains.

I've railed against this in the past.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday. True, the Canadians have a Thanksgiving, but theirs is held in October on Columbus Day. And technically it's not a political holiday and it's not a religious holiday. So I guess one could say that New Year's Day, an accident of our calendar, and Thanksgiving are our only secular holidays of note.

There was a time when everybody, or nearly everybody, went home or with a gathering of friends or family to have a big meal. My grad school advisor, the late A. Barry Kunz, held a big Thanksgiving dinner for all interested, especially the grad students who couldn't travel home and the foreign grad students who didn't come from an American Thanksgiving tradition. We attended for a number of years and held our own Thanksgiving on Friday or Saturday. Since moving down to West Michigan, we often take Thanksgiving Day itself to go to the movies and have our feast another day.

But by and large everything used to shut down on Thanksgiving.

Oh sure, some people worked. Otherwise you couldn't go to the movies or have the traditional Detroit and Dallas football games. And it was maybe twenty or thirty years ago that gas stations were more open on Turkey Day. I remember traveling and having to get gas on Thanksgiving and apologizing to the clerk. They said they were happy to come in and help people get home on the holiday. And some were making bonus holiday pay, too, so they volunteered for a shift and thanks for the concern, but they'd get their dinner with their family. But I am sure others were pressured or ordered to work.

Then grocery stores began having Thanksgiving hours. Because in the pre-holiday rush or late additions to the guest list or just plain disasters, sometimes you just need more food.


But the creeping of the Christmas shopping season is getting more and more stores to open on Thanksgiving. Shop now! Beat the artificially created Black Friday rush! The stores have argued that Christmas sales provide the profits for the entire year and sales have been tight the last few years, so we gotta be open and besides everyone is doing it.

Everyone is doing it.

How long before everyone is either working or shopping on Thanksgiving? And we lose our national holiday.

I object. We already give workers less vacation than many of our First World neighbors -- and then make people feel guilty about using it. To strip a people of their day of rest and reflection, it just ain't right.

Because let me tell you. I am home. I am (mostly) healthy. I am getting stronger. I will be back in the classroom in January. I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving -- and having a wonderful feast from Mrs. Dr. Phil instead of bland hospital food? You have no idea.

So even if we go to the movies on Thanksgiving itself, Thanksgiving is NOT some damned Christmas shopping day -- or as we've seen so often, a day of selfish shopping for oneself instead.

Give it a rest. And have a busy day of rest.

The Christmas season doesn't start until after Thanksgiving. And I don't mean 12:01am or 5am or knocking down and trampling people.

Thank you. (dismounts from soapbox, carefully and with two canes)

Dr. Phil

Drive 55

Today was the first day I've driven a car since I turned fifty-five. Hell, it's the first time I've driven a car in over six months. After a weekend of rain and heavy storms, including a confirmed EF-0 tornado in nearby Newago County, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood today. Blue skies, a pit pale, and bright brilliant sunshine.

Since we didn't go out over the weekend, or charged the battery in the Blazer, we figured I could drive Mrs. Dr. Phil to/fro work. The driving -- easy. The getting in, still awkward. Getting out, got the left foot out past the door frame and past the bulge of the door speaker on the first try no problem.

The Rules of the Road

Stressing safety first, I recited to Mrs. Dr. Phil the proper way to drive:

-- Be sure to line up the center of the hood with the dotted line in the road. That way you maximize the clearance and lessen the chance of running off the road.

-- If you see a car coming up to a cross intersection and you aren't sure if they're going to stop, gun it! Because...

-- If you think you have Right of Way, then seize that opportunity and claim your rightful piece of the road.

-- If you see pedestrians or bicycles along the edge of the road, ease over and clip them with the edge of your bumper at 55mph. This is to remind them of the point above.

-- Ditto motorcycles. They aren't worthy of sharing my road with me, so the sooner you can send them to the ER as organ donors, the faster we'll get through the backlogs on the transplants lists. Win for everyone!

-- Speed limits are for sissies. It's 55mph everywhere, except when posted at 55 or higher, then a minimum of 15mph higher is acceptable, because you know the cops must legally give you 12mph over the speed limit anyway.

-- Likewise, turn signals are for wooses. If you let the guy behind you know you're doing, they might think they can pass you. Never!

-- Be sure to keep up on your NASCAR style sloloming around cars in either lane, if you can't save the environment by drafting an inch or two behind their bumper. Bonus at night, where if you're close enough, the guy in front won't be blinded by your headlights. Remember, if they suddenly slow down and you rear end 'em, it's their fault for failure to yield to you.

At least that's how I remember seeing everyone else drive around here... (grin)

Y'all be safe out there, y'here? Dr. Phil is back on the roads.

Dr. Phil