Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Putting the "Thanks!" back into Thanksgiving, and taking the Black Friday Out

As I sit here at 5:15 am on Thanksgiving Eve, trying to put into words what has been floating around in my head for weeks, I find it a bit ironic that I am awake earlier today than I would be on a school day.  On a day I didn't have to be up at a certain time to get my two small humans into the care of those that do the hardest job (and get paid the least) in our society, I was awake at 5 am.  Waking after 7 am is as elusive in my life as a sighting of a Sasquatch (Bigfoot or Yeti, if you prefer). But fundamentally, even though I am sleepy, I have been given another day to grace this planet, and for this, I am thankful.

So I hear a lot about how we need to put the Christ back into Christmas.  Now make no mistake, I am a Christian (Presbyterian to be more specific) and I agree we could all use more Christ in our lives, but in my mind, it is impossible to take him out of ANYTHING! He's tenacious that way, always all up in my business, making me a better Lucy, ever present with his unending grace and expecting me to love others...just BECAUSE!  So this premise that we can take Christ out of Christmas, or anything else is a bit ludicrous, in my humble opinion. And don't get me wrong, it's not that we are getting Christmas "right" in our society, but to me you have to start with fixing the "Thanks" in November before you can get on with fixing the "giving" in December.

Thanksgiving has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday.  In fact I like it so much that in 1996, when planning my wedding, I initially tried to schedule our nuptials for Thanksgiving weekend but the US Army decided that Ethan Waterbury would be in Panama. And the US Army didn't give a rat's ass about my love for Thanksgiving so we made do with August. And 18 years later, tomorrow is go time in this house as my husband and I host family and friends here at our house for Thanksgiving. My Turkey is swimming in brine, my homemade cornbread is drying for the dressing and a pumpkin pie will be born into this world around 11:18am (depending upon when I publish this fine literary specimen).  

So why is Thanksgiving my favorite holiday?  Well hell, what's not to love? It is a day off from work (for most) built around the premise of giving thanks, eating wonderful food, & visiting with the ones you love. Historically speaking, there are many politically laden versions of how Thanksgiving originally went down (much of which makes this bleeding heart liberal proud and cringe at the same time) but in 2014, I just feel like we are missing it.  

It seems like so many in our culture are "going through the motions" to get to the Black Friday part of Thanksgiving, which in my mind, should be no part of it at all. While sightings of Sasquatch may be rare, sightings of Christmas trees the day after Halloween have become common place.  There is a radio station in Lexington that converts to Christmas music on November 1st, subscribing to the 55 days of Christmas model which seems to have become pervasive in our society.  

We blow past the Thanks! to get to the giving.  And that folks, is just plain sad. We think that giving people material things makes up for not giving them our thanks, time, love and affection. Our souls have been eroded by Black Friday retail "deals" and our collective concern for humanity has been replaced by a concern for keeping up the the Joneses (and the Smiths too, or so it seems!)

Occasionally I will run across folks in my facebook newsfeed that will take the time to express an attitude of gratitude about the simpler things in their lives and I find this encouraging.  So on this Thanksgiving Eve I am publishing my own attitude of gratitude list in an attempt to set an example of how to get the "black" out of this sacred day.  Here goes...

I am thankful for...

  • those who enrich my life by their presence
  • those who love and serve others who are so desperately in need of love and services
  • those who put themselves out there to affect positive change in their community
  • those who use their voice to speak their mind for the voices that have been silenced
  • those who sacrifice their lives to protect mine
  • the innocence of children and the wonder in which they approach life
  • an appreciation for all that is beautiful in this life, the ordinary and the extraordinary

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything for which I am thankful, it is a pretty good start.  And, money cannot buy any of the above.  For those who will get up from their Thanksgiving table tomorrow to go "cash in" on those material goods, the reality is that it is your soul you are selling. Life isn't found in what is bought and sold, it is found in experiences and memories and those are not for sale, they are for the taking and making.

May your Thanksgiving table be filled with an abundance of food and those you choose to spend it with be filled with an abundance of love and thankfulness for all that is good and beautiful in this life.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dear Mr. President...there isn't enough bourbon

Dear Mr. President,

This is your future Ebola Czarina checking in.  You've been pretty busy lately, so if you missed my blog about Ebola, you can read it here: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ebola?  Seems like we have Ebola under control at the moment, so kudos to the current Czar, but if you would like to write in a succession clause, I'm your girl. 

But I digress, Ebola is not why I am writing.  Earlier this week, exactly 56.2% of the 46% of Kentuckians who even bothered to show up to vote sent Mitch McConnell to represent them in the United States Senate. (Note: let's be fair, Lexingtonians and Louisvillians are excluded from this statistic, they actually voted to send Alison to the Senate in the same proportions) 

I have to believe that a certain percentage sent him back, not because they liked him, but to bring home the "pork" to Kentucky, as Senate majority leader, because after all, it's the American way. I'm not sure how I feel about those people as it is this logic that has completely bastardized the resource distribution of our democratic government but that's a letter for a different day.

Those Kentuckians didn't send him to represent me, as I promise you that the votes he will cast will never reflect anything that I stand for.  And you know that saying, "You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything".  Yeah, well let's just say that too many Kentuckians will fall for anything, and evidently that disease is pretty contagious among the voting electorate in the mid-terms of 2014.  

On Wednesday, after those Kentuckians who cannot see that they are being lied to and their votes and souls are being bought by fear mongering billionaires, decided that Mitch McConnell, after 30 abysmal years of legislating, was yet again their man, you invited him over for some food, fun & fellowship at the White House. You said, I quote, "I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell." Now Mr. President, I will take you at your word that you meant what you said, but I have to assume it would be the bourbon that you would enjoy with Mitch McConnell, rather than the discourse.  

In this state, bourbon flows like water.  We drink it in any manner you can imagine, we've built a trail around it, we make candy out of it, we have even been known to light it on fire when served as part of a decadent dessert or two. In a few hours, I myself will be tailgating with it at the UK vs. Georgia game, but I think you get my point. 

But Mr. President, this Kentucky girl is here to tell you...there isn't enough bourbon. You could push Bourbon through the veins of Mitch McConnell intravenously and he still wouldn't see what you and I see.

  • To see that people are people, and Corporations are NOT
  • To see that inconvenient truths not addressed for decades, could become species ending nightmares at the end of the millennium
  • To see that legislation passed in his name is often exactly what Jesus WOULDN'T DO! (not WWJD!)
  • To see that choosing "Pork" in Washington, in the long run, harms the men and women bringing home the bacon
  • To see that profit maximizers don't self-regulate
  • To see that ending the "War on Coal" fuels a war on clean drinking water and irreversible environmental damage
  • To see that access to healthcare makes us all healthier
  • To see that Student Loans are as important, if not more important, as Business Loans
  • To see that Planned Parenthood serves low income women in ways they will never understand 
  • To see that birth control pills are used for dozens of women's health concerns, only one of which is preventing birth
  • To see that being Pro Life should mean feeding, clothing, and nurturing these children long after the birth is over
  • To see the importance of funding Sesame Street instead of Wall Street
  • To see that tomorrow's criminal is today's abused, neglected, and broken child
  • To see that neediest children come to school to be loved as much as to learn
  • To see that Head Start isn't just an academic start, it is the ONLY start for many of these children
  • To see that choosing butter over guns is not only the right thing to do but the smart economic thing to do
  • To see that love is defined by the heart, not the type of genitalia
  • To see that government can and should reduce suffering, instead of inflicting it
  • To see that as Americans we are, and should be our brother and sister's keeper

So now that the Bourbon Summit is over, keep fighting the good fight, please get back to doing what you have gotten really good at, rebuilding a country and economy you inherited 6 years ago that was decimated by 8 years of the policies of the same party that just dropped by for a bite of lunch.  

And while these next two years are going to be a nightmare of preventing the passing of legislation that will undo the economic growing, deficit & governmental fraud reducing and consumer protecting accomplishments of your presidency, please know that history will be kind to you.  

And Mr. President, if Mitch didn't bring the Pappy Van Winkle, he brought the wrong stuff.