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PILGRIM’S PROGRESS?

Some thoughts on Thanksgiving by Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I have spent much of my time the past few months writing the history of our family.  My research has taken me to places that I never expected to go. For example, the Napa State Hospital for the Insane where our great-grandfather was housed in 1900.  But that aside, most of our relatives were fine, upstanding people. In fact, a few weeks ago I discovered that we are related to 5 of the seventeen families that came over on the Mayflower. 

I’ve been reading a lot about our relatives, the Pilgrims, and have been reminded of facts I’m sure I learned in school but had long forgotten.  The journey was 66 days long and quite perilous during the latter half of it.  When they landed in Plymouth in November of 1620 there was no reprieve from the cramped confines of the ship.  Most of the passengers had to live on board while the first housing structures were built. The quarters were small to begin with and were not enhanced by two months at sea with no bathing or washing of clothes.  In fact, one of the first things the men did when they landed was to cut down juniper trees to bring on board in an attempt to improve the odor.  Those close quarters and the brutal New England winters caused much illness and disease.  Half of the original passengers died that first winter.  When spring arrived, the remaining crew members eagerly set sail and returned to England.  But the Pilgrims stayed on in Plymouth and continued to build their village.  By the next year, in November of 1621, they celebrated their first bountiful harvest with the native population and that meal has come to symbolize Thanksgiving.

So armed with all of this new knowledge I decided to really celebrate Thanksgiving this year.  My first stop was Target where I went in search of some kitschy decorations – a wreath, a turkey candle, maybe even a Pilgrim hat.  No such luck.  Thanksgiving was relegated to an end post on one aisle.  I was lucky to find an accordion turkey and a paper tablecloth.  Apparently that is the extent to which Target wishes to celebrate the day.  It was the same scenario in store after store.  Somehow we have turned into a society that goes directly from Halloween (a money-making holiday) to Christmas (another money-making holiday).

I think the people who struggled so greatly to establish the first colony in this country deserve a bit more respect.  Would it really be so bad if we focused a bit more on gratitude and a little less on greed?  We could start with Congress and then move on to the Target merchandising department.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Who’s Got The Political Football?

Headlines: Newt Takes the Lead . . . This Week

I’m not so sure which party is enjoying this the most;

The Republicans have a struggling president to roast,

While the Democrats are finding it quite easy to critique

The Republican’s latest offering of the candidate of the week.

Money: Black Thursday Afternoon

A long time Target employee has said Thanksgiving is my day,

But he can never enjoy it because he works on Black Friday.

So the store’s midnight grand opening, he’s trying to appeal

So he doesn’t have to sleep again through his Thanksgiving meal.

Sports: On Which Side Do Mom & Dad Sit?

There is an historic game for you pro football mavens

This Thursday San Francisco plays the Baltimore Ravens

It’s a familial faceoff that’s the big television draw

Each team is being coached by brothers named Harbaugh.

Life: And Now For A Hollywood Moment

Demi’s in Hawaii getting over her divorce;

Taylor Swift has proved again that she a tour de force.

Bieber’s trying to settle some bothersome dispute,

Making sure that he’s not fitted for his first paternity suit.

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WHAT A COUNTRY!

Headlines:  Only in America.

On Thursday Oscar Ramiro Ortega was arrested on the spot,

For driving to the White House to take a well-aimed shot.

The details of the incident show just how diverse we are:

A Latin shooter wields a Romanian gun and drives a Japanese car.

Money:  Honey, I think we need a bigger outlet.

Lincoln still is clueless with their MDX make over,

It’s gets 19 MPG every time you turn it over.

 And AAA announced today that gas prices will give us no relief,

No wonder 20,000 people have reserved themselves a “Leaf”.

Sports:  He didn’t bring his “A” game.

Golf was big this week with the start of the President’s Cup,

But Tiger’s game was absent and he and Stricker just blew up.

Steve Williams, Tiger’s ex-caddie, must be loving this new win,

But one can only hope he’s learned to keep his private thoughts within.

 

Life:  The good, the bad and the “we totally saw this coming”.

This week Justin Timberlake danced at the Marine Corps Ball,

And it turns out Justin Bieber isn’t a father after all.

Regis is leaving Kelly, but the biggest news of course,

Is that Ashton’s little flings made Demi file for divorce.

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Does Anybody’s Government Work?

Headlines: It’s Not My Job

President Giorgio Napolitano, told an irate Italian mob

That fixing his own government was not part of his job.

So to keep the masses happy as they tried to go berserk,

He gave the task to Monti to see if he could make it work.

Money: Saturn Permanently In Orbit

Just as General Motors started writing ink that’s black,

In the Saturn gear shift, inspectors found a little crack.

To places you’re not going, you may just have arrived,

‘Cuz when you put the car in Park it might just be in Drive.

Sports: Where Spirit is Still Alive

Does it seem that sports in general has lost that old rah-rah,

With the stand-off in the NBA and the fall of Coach JoPa.

If you’re looking for a contest that doesn’t have such shame,

Stay in your local neighborhood and catch a high school game.

Life: What if Kennedy Hadn’t Been Assassinated?

Stephen King has written a novel called ‘11/22/63’

About that faithful day in Dallas when we lost John Kennedy.

But of course it has a twist, he’s got history reversed;

In his story someone ends up shooting Harvey Oswald first.

 

Only 40 More Shopping Days Until Christmas and You Still Don’t Know

What to Get Aunt Mildred.

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DUMB ACTS

Headlines:  Maybe the Alzheimer’s test is in order.

Rick Perry had a stumble at the debate the other night,

His fumbling and his stalling suggest his brain has taken flight.

If you have three things to remember and you can only recall two,

Then perhaps the job of President is not the one for you.

Money:  If it’s Thursday the market must be up.

Who the heck can plan their budget in this age of market swings,

Never knowing from week to week what stock prices will bring.

If it isn’t Greece, it’s Italy or some company’s fallen flat,

We need to have a Ouija board – is there an app for that?

Sports:     No, football is not the most important thing…even in Happy Valley.

JoePa’s out at Penn State after sixty-one years,

Resulting in reactions from rioting to tears.

He was a  great coach in his prime but this should be understood,

He didn’t have the courage to stand up when he should.

Life:  We hear Kim Kardashian is available.

Piers Morgan has decided that he will quit his job,

On the “America’s Got Talent” judging panel mob.

His replacement will no doubt need to agree to certain terms:

Humor Sharon’s ramblings and don’t give Howie any germs.

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Can You Tap Dance in Flip Flops?

Headlines: I Feel Strongly Both Ways

Romney’s getting bashed for the changing of his stances;

Is he trying to get ready for some presidential dances?

Some who know him best, have heard that he has said,

“When Obama leaves I hope he leaves his flip flops by the bed.”

Money: Greco-Roman Wrestling

Just as we get the Greeks turned around, so to speak,

It seems that the Euro has sprung another leak.

This time it’s the Italians, their future’s not so sunny;

They gotta dough, they gotta bread, but they ain’t gotta no money.

Sports: Defensive Game is Offensive

Last week we were hyping the Tigers and the Tide,

But LSU and Alabama took us for a ride.

The game had not one touchdown, no great runs, no great passes

Disappointing all the couch potatoes sitting on their asses

Life: He Thought He Was Dr. Kevorkian

The jury’s has come back with manslaughter, involuntary

And Dr. Murray’s comments that followed seemed quite scary

“What was it, drips or shots or was it probing with my scanner?

Or was it just you didn’t seem to like my bedside manner?”

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Freddie and the Greeks

Headlines: No One Wants A Greek In A Position . . . To Fail

In Athens the economy is struggling

As alignment with the Euro they seek.

The rest of Europe’s not happy with the problem,

But no one dares turn their back to a Greek.

 Money: Lots of Money That No One Can Qualify For

We have lowered mortgage rates to a scant four percent,

Said Freddie Mac with its usual smirk.

But what Freddie fails to see is that no one buys homes

When most buyers are still out of work.

Sports: This Weekend: Football, Southern Style

 College football’s lollapalooza

Is this Saturday in old Tuscaloosa;

The Tigers and Tide

Play for #1 pride,

Neither wants to come away as the loser.

Life: I Can See Bill and His Cigarette Holder Now

Bill Murray, the actor of comedic fame,

Has announced that he’s going to star

In a role that seems quite a stretch for the clown;

He’ll be playing the great FDR.

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IT’S TIME TO SAY GOOD NIGHT

Headlines:  Hmmmm, what’s the old saying?  Deny, deny, deny. 

It’s been discovered Herman Cain had a sexual harassment charge,

A case that he now claims was settled and discharged.

All we know is when the press rakes a contender over the coals,

It must surely mean that candidate is leading in the polls.

Money:  Want to place money on how many fights there will be? 

Macy’s and Target have announced Black Friday plans,

They’ll be opening up at midnight for all their shopping fans.

We’re not sure that after a meal and drinking, most likely to excess,

Is the time to gather shoppers who are tipsy, crazed and stressed.

Sports:  He did not go to the Bobby Knight school of coaching.

Sadly, the coaching ranks are losing one of  baseball’s best,

Tony LaRussa has decided to fly the Cardinal’s nest.

He’s been a gentleman and classy, a mentor and a sage,

And he’s one of the rare guys that know when to leave the stage.

 

Life:  Who had the over/under at 72 days?

Well,  we’re SHOCKED that Kim Kardashian has filed for divorce,

From her husband of two months who rode in on a white horse.

We think he may have figured out that his quickie vows and mating,

Were done to ensure the season finale would have the highest rating.

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HOLLOW HALLOWEEN

An opinion…by Suzanne Watson

I read the other day that Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year, more than any other holiday except Christmas.  The head of the National Retail Association says that Halloween is now a “season”.  I guess I should have known that, what with all the paraphernalia that is evident everywhere from the grocery store to Ace Hardware.  But when did this happen?  When did Halloween turn into something that – like Christmas – the retailers have taken over and completely exploited?

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, it seems like Halloween has gotten much too complicated.  When I was a kid Halloween was simple.  Costumes were cobbled together from things found around the house – a sheet with holes in it for a ghost or towels pinned around the neck for a Superman cape.  If one was really lucky you had a grandparent with a glass eye so you could borrow their patch for a pirate costume.  The occasional kid bought a plastic mask at the five and dime but that was thought to be phony and close to cheating.  The fun of Halloween was using our imagination to come up with the cleverest costume.  We proudly marched in our school parades and vied for the prize for best costume.   Yep – they gave out one award.  We didn’t get a ribbon just for participating.

On Halloween night, we were let loose in the neighborhoods near us with a battle plan that would have done justice to an Army general.  We plotted out which houses to avoid – those that gave out hard candy or fruit – and which to hit first.  The lady around the corner was always our starting point because she made delicious popcorn balls.  Then we progressed to the homes that dished out candied apples, divinity, brownies, and fudge.  We never gave a thought about eating food that had been prepared by someone we didn’t really know.  It was all home-made, lovingly wrapped up in waxed paper or aluminum foil, and it was scrumptious.

These days Halloween has turned into an extravaganza – or in the words of the retailers – a “season”.  At my local Target the part of the store that hasn’t already been turned into a Christmas wonderland is dedicated to over-the-top Halloween displays.  And our Hallmark store is a complete freak show.   There are strings of lights to put on the house, special Halloween gift bags and toys, a Pin the Tail on the Cat game and aisle after aisle of decorations and party favors.

According to the article, adults are increasingly participating in this holiday that was once the domain of children.  I suppose we should have seen this coming.  People are in need of an escape these days and what better way to suppress your anger about your 401K than to dress up like one of the Angry Birds?  Still, it seems like this should be a holiday for children, not another excuse for mom and dad to dress up like fools (we still have New Year’s Eve for that).

But the real change is that so many kids no longer trick-or-treat.  Now the trend is to have home parties.    I know that there are more risks today and that the world is full of scary people, but I still find it sad that kids miss the fun of going house to house.  Because no matter how great the favors are from Target, it can’t be as much fun as plotting routes, knocking on strangers’ doors and being rewarded with popcorn balls.

Selfishly, I miss seeing the kids come around each year.  I miss asking them about their costumes and providing the appropriate response when they twirl in their princess dress or growl in their werewolf mask.  I still buy Snickers bars each Halloween in hopes that someone will come by, but inevitably they end up in my freezer.  Eventually my husband and I eat them and I end up doing extra time at the gym.  Halloween – and my metabolism – are both different these days.

THE SCARIEST HALLOWEEN IN YEARS

A commentary by Bob Sparrow

It’s that time of year, a time for scary things.  Here are some things that are scaring the shit out of me this Halloween.

  • Our government  Never have we been so polarized.  We see our government not trying to do what’s right for the American people, but making sure the other party doesn’t get credit for doing what’s right for the American people.  If you want to start an argument, just take a right or left position on a subject and you will very quickly see a ‘house divided’.  Our government is broken and no one seems to care, much less know how to fix it.
  • Politicians (Obviously I’m not done with our government yet!)  Today’s
    politicians from both parties are first, self-serving, then party-serving and rarely, if ever, think about 1) serving the people in their constituency, and 2) doing what is best for the country.  Our Social Security program is not good enough for them; our health care system is not good enough for them.  Get them on the same programs as the rest of us, get them term limits and get them out!  They are the problem they’re pretending to fix.
  • Our position on illegal aliens  What don’t people get about the word ‘illegal’?  We have always been a nation of laws, except when it comes to this issue.  It is now considered to be prejudicial and politically incorrect (another scary thing) to try to up-hold the law regarding this problem, because it is primarily directed at the Hispanic community.  Bull shit!  Illegal is illegal.  We have good immigration laws, it’s scary that we don’t enforce them.
  • The dumbing down of America.  Perhaps it’s because modern technology has exposed more, but wow, are we stupid!  People don’t read anymore, they get their news, thoughts and cultural enlightenment from reality TV and celebrity
    tweets.  It’s scary how important what Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian are doing.  Our commitment to education is best demonstrated by the ever-widening
    gap between what we pay our professional athletes and what we pay our teachers.
  • Retirement.  It’s turned me into a sedentary curmudgeon.

 What’s scaring you this Halloween? 

Use our ‘Comments’ section to let us know.