Galen here, once again borrowing Marlene’s blog to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!
This time around, let me tell you about one of the things I’m thankful for: the historian Bret Devereaux’s blog A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry. Devereaux, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializes in ancient Mediterranean history with a focus on how ordinary people were both affected by and influenced the economy and warfare.
His blog marries popular culture and ancient military history and tactics but is grounded in current, rigorous historical thinking that doesn’t lose sight of the common people — but is always entertaining to read. He seems incapable of writing briefly, but the result are pieces that you can really dig into. He generally posts on Fridays, and it’s always a pleasure to see one of them show up in my feed reader. If you read historical fiction, particularly books set in ancient Rome or Greece, or epic fantasy, I highly recommend checking his blog out. Likewise if you’re interested in ancient military history; Devereaux‘s pieces on warfare are quite interesting, but he never forgets that war is a terrible thing.
Galen here, once again sneaking onto Marlene’s blog to do a Thanksgiving reading list post.
As was the case in 2018, we are thankful for yet another kitty in our lives. George is one of the offspring of a neighborhood cat. He’s turned into quite the social glue of our clowder, demanding and getting affection from Freddie, Lucifer, and Hecate in various ways.
Again, as with 2018, I am hopeful that the results of the election will get our country back towards the path of justice. Of course, this is a difficult time: the pandemic is on fire everywhere in this country, and I fear that all of the travel and gatherings for Thanksgiving will cause so many needless deaths.
Marlene and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving together with the cats, and no one else is invited. Maybe next year will be different, but for as many of us to get to next year as possible, patience is required today. On the one hand, that’s easy enough for me and Marlene to say; we’re introverts. I won’t pretend that staying home hasn’t been hard for us, but I know it is a lot more difficult many others, including folks who have no choice but to go out into the world in order to keep body and soul together. But please: if you can, stay home for the holidays, share your Thanksgiving meal only with your pod (or at least stay outdoors as much as possible), wear your masks, and wash your hands.
Thanksgiving in World War II by Sarah Sundin. Did you know that there was a period where there were competing dates for “Democrat Thanksgiving” and “Republican Thanksgiving”?
Alternatively, Happy Turkey Coma Day. Or even Happy Parade Day.
Possibly even Happy semi-official start of the Xmas Season.
Last year, Galen posted a reading list along with a picture of tiny, bitey Miss Hecate, who was thankful for her timely rescue the month before. So I’ll leave you this year with a picture of the full-grown Miss Hecate, still grateful for that timely rescue, just as we are grateful for her playful advent into our lives. And as you can see from her picture below, she’s expecting someone to be grateful that she brought him a mousie.
Thanksgiving may be a bit more strained around some family dinner tables than others this year. We’re planning to be with like-minded friends, so while there may be some sadness amidst the joy, we’ve always been on the same side and this holiday will be a chance to welcome new friends among us and be grateful that we have each other to lean on.
Before I sign off to go see if I can help with the turkey, I have one final thought to leave you with today:
For Thanksgiving Day I usually write something short and if possible funny. The cartoon above would probably be on point. Or sometimes Galen does a reading list. Not this year.
Instead, we have this:
John Oliver on Last Week Tonight said something cogent about the results of that first Thanksgiving, comparing it to events going on right now:
As has happened so often since 9/11, we are again forgetting one of Ben Franklin’s most important comments:
Because Ben was right. So many people seem to be willing to give up who we are and what we stand for as a country because they have bought in to the fear that has been ginned up by certain political leaders and news outlets on the right of the political spectrum.
Even though Franklin D. Roosevelt turned out to be spectacularly wrong about the Japanese Internment Camps, in this he was absolutely right. (And the Internment Camps were a response to unreasoning and racist fear)
“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”
Of course, had the turkey become the national bird, we might feel inhibited against eating it… and I really don’t think eagle would be a good substitute. So it all works out.
For those of us in the U.S. it is the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. For everyone not in the U.S., you’re probably wondering what the fuss was about. Except that we were in Vancouver, Canada on Thursday and Friday and saw Black Friday Sale signs going up all over the place. It seemed strange to have Black Friday Sales without having had a Thanksgiving Thursday first. And Canada doesn’t. Thanksgiving in Canada was way back on October 14.
We asked people what the deal was, and it turned out that yes, it was becoming a deal. Vancouver, at least, is way too close to the U.S. border for economic comfort. Too many Christmas shoppers were driving to Seattle, or at least the outlet mall along the way, to grab the Black Friday shopping madness in the U.S.
So the Canadian stores were trying to keep those shoppers at home by giving them their very own Black Friday sales. Turkey and stuffing optional.
For those of us in the U.S. (which I’m technically not, today, so funny that) today is Thanksgiving. This also happens to be a very late Thanksgiving, always the fourth Thursday in November; because November started on a Friday this year.
For those of us who are Jewish, today is the first day of Hanukkah, which started last night at sunset. It is the 25th day of Kislev according to the Jewish calendar. (Wikipedia has a lovely explanation of how the Hebrew calendar drifts out of sync in relation to the Gregorian calendar used for standard dates.)
But the idea of this once in a lifetime phenomenon captured a lot of people’s imaginations. So we have Thanksgivukkah, a word which is driving the WordPress spell-checker absolutely bonkers.
A day where I can give thanks, eat turkey and possibly receive Hanukkah presents, all in one swell foop.
So wherever you may be, I hope that you are having a happy Thanksgiving, even if today isn’t your holiday. Or holidays.