"Black Friday" is now "Black Insanity"

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but the truth is, it has attained that status in my world  through the default of my REAL favorite holiday, Christmas. Christmas, in and of itself, will always be the best holiday because of what it represents; Peace on Earth, Good Will to All, Joy to the World and Love and Giving. And it all began with the birth of a baby in a cave or stable somewhere in the bowels of the  Middle East 2000+ years ago. The baby grew up, lived for 33 years, preached love and forgiveness, and changed the world forever. The whole thing is unbelievable. The story is also TRUE. (By the way–there are millions & millions of folks who agree with me on that–could actually be 2,000,000,000 or two billion—So there!).

Thanksgiving really asks nothing of us except to “share and give”. It’s beautiful. Well, that is how Christmas started. What happened to me this year was “Black Friday” was replaced by “Black Insanity”. The Christmas season has always been commercialized, especially in the 20th century and “Black Friday” has been around for a long time with people standing in line in freezing weather at two in the morning to get a “deal” on stuff. Good for them. They had already done the family thing on Turkey Day. For many it became a holiday tradition.

Now, this year, along comes “Black Insanity” (my definition). People were camping out all week so they could get save a few bucks on stuff on Thanksgiving morning and afternoon and evening. WHOA–What happened to family day with the turkey and stuffing and cranberries and pie and football and too much tryptophan –Puhlease—STOP! We need some quality time with our family and friends. Forget about saving some money. You are giving up something that has no price tag because it is priceless. Look folks, we need to empty ourselves once in a while of the world around us, even if it is just a little bit.

There was a time in America when every Sunday was family day. People who had jobs in necessary services  were the ones who worked on Sundays. Dads and moms would have dinner together with the kids, take them out together, or just simply hang out together at home. Most stores were closed, period. I grew up in NYC and the only stores open on Sunday were the candy stores to sell newspapers, the delicatessens and the bakeries. Of course, the saloons opened after 1p.m. That was it. There was a serenity in the air on Sundays, a pause from the everyday, a calmness that surrounded people. It was not perfect but it was good.

 I am just trying to make a point with all this rambling and the point is this. This “Black Insanity” that has taken place this year has opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box. Once opened it will never be closed. The only thing that will  happen is “Black Insanity” will expand it’s clutching fingers and grab hold of more and more folks who will believe that they are “missing out”. All those Sundays of years ago were crammed into Thanksgiving and Christmas. It took a long time but it looks like Thanksgiving has just become another modern Sunday?   What’s next? Christmas Day “white sales”?

"Being Thankful for Thanksgiving-"

I’m a holiday kind of guy. I love the Christmas season with its “peace-on-earth” and ‘”joy-to-the-world” messages and Santa Claus, and elves and Christmas lights and all that comes with the excitement leading up to Christmas Day. Most of all, I love the “reason for the season”—acknowledging the birth of Christ.

I also am fully aware of the pressure and stress Christmastime can bring to so many. This year, besides the homeless, the unemployed and  those with serious illness, we must factor in the death and devastation brought by “Monster Storm Sandy” on so many of our brother and sister Americans. Christmas for many will require much Faith in the ‘reason for the season’. 

Then there are the many  parents with no money who desperately want Santa to visit their house on Christmas Eve.  Let’s face it, kids are kids and Santa is Santa; to them the “real world” has no place in their little, anxious hearts. The stress this can cause for a mommy and daddy who might be struggling just to make rent can sometimes be overwhelming. And what about the single parents with only one income, generally small. Providing a Christmas for their kids can be one of the most stress filled times of the entire year. That is a whole other issue.  But first comes Thanksgiving—and Turkey and stuffing and pie and full bellies.

I LOVE Thanksgiving. To me it IS the best day of the year. Why? Because it is the one day of the year when we pause and simply give thanks for all that we have even if it is just a little. A job, good health, a cancer in remission, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, so many things that we can be thankful for. People from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers in a soup kitchen. This year even the victims of “Sandy” will have a turkey dinner available to them no matter what their situation. It will be something to be thankful for that day and will generate a spark of hope in otherwise despondent hearts. We should all be Thankful for Thanksgiving. It is a beautiful thing.

“If the only prayer you said in your WHOLE LIFE was,”THANK YOU”, that would suffice.”
Meister Eckhart 1260-1327, Theologian and Philosopher

I know, get over it. 'After all, it's only politics"

This was my 12th presidential election and  it took me until Thursday to accept, not the election results but rather, how we got to those results. Inside my discombobulated and foggy muse I know the system we have has worked–again. I know we have re-elected a sitting president–again. It is all “good”, right?  God Bless America, right? So whatever is my problem?

Look, I know we have this cliche that has been embedded in all of our psyches and that cliche is “hey, its politics”. And what does that mean? Does it mean character assassination is permissible? Does it mean lying is allowed?  Does it mean vilifying  a person’s family is justifiable? Apparently, it does and I for one am sick of it.  I am sick to death of the upscale, well educated, articulate campaign reps and biased news pundits  being no better than  soap opera villains going about their business assailing those with whom they disagree with blistering attacks on their character and their families. And PLEASE–don’t tell me “hey, its politics”. That is Machiavellian crap. The truth is this behavior is disgusting and the example we set for the younger generations is deplorable. How many young people, even at the high-school level, have learned during this election season that Governor Mitt Romney is nothing but a lying, thieving, tax-evading, murdering felon who has no qualms whatsoever about ‘pushing granny in a wheelchair’ over a cliff. Why is this vilification done. TO WIN! Hey, I know, “its politics”.

As a catholic I am also befuddled and disheartened  by the Gallup poll taken after the election that showed 52% of Catholics voted for Barack Obama while only 45% voted for Mitt Romney. I am a senior citizen who was  raised catholic and still is.  Never in my entire life have I experienced the Bishops in the United States (The USCCB under Cardinal Timothy Dolan of NY) reaching out and asking their catholic “flock” to vote to save and protect our First Amendment rights. Never have they asked for our support to literally defend the faith we profess to follow. Those rights had never been threatened before. But now they are.  And what happened? 52% to 45% of we  ‘catholics’ turned our bishops down. Why? I have some answers inside myself to that question but they are too painful to deal with right now. Hey, I know, I had better get over it. After all, ” its only politics.”