“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of a passionate intensity.”
— from “The Second Coming”, by William Butler Yeats
© 2014, 2015 By Bob Litton
NOTE TO READERS: Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for reasons that will appear in the essay below. This Thanksgiving, however, world and national events have rendered me doubtful if there really is anything left to be thankful for. I have lost faith in humanity — in much of it anyway. That’s why the lines above from Yeats’ prophetic poem keep popping up in my mind.
Still, I have a few faithful readers here and around the world, and I have not published anything in nearly two weeks. Oh, I have my judgments on current events; but they have all been uttered quite eloquently, if sporadically, by others in the media. I don’t want to weary you with a refrain of the same.
I looked through my files for something a bit more comforting to rehash, and I located the column I wrote for The Monahans News back in 1979 and re-published on this blog last year. It contains all the sentiments I still feel about Thanksgiving, if ever so faintly.
I am banking on the assumption that some of you were not reading this blog last year; so, for you at least, it will be fresh reading. I hope my disposition will improve soon, for I do have a couple of different topics to write about; both of them, however, will take some heavy-duty reading and compilation. And I just am not in the mood for that. For now, though, enjoy the post below!
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Some things you’re better off not looking at too closely. One of them is Thanksgiving.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re Christian, Jew, Muslim, or pagan. How can you count your “blessings” without their being contrasted with somebody else’s “lacks”? If you are blessed, are they therefore condemned?
How can we keep from choking on our turkey when we know people are starving here and across the world? Still, it is not, strictly speaking, our fault. We have tried to get food to war-torn areas as well as to places where natural disasters have rendered people homeless and even isolated. Even to share our “bounty” has sometimes become such a problem as to require diplomats, as was the case in Cambodia in 1979, when I published the original version of this essay.
And yet I wouldn’t have Thanksgiving not be. It has always been my favorite holiday — based on a religious origin yet not as heavily saccharine as Christmas, nor as ridiculously extended.
Many of us will be taking off to distant places (if we can afford the gasoline or plane tickets) in order to spend a few days with our relatives, whom we may not have seen for a year or more.
We’ll all disappear into warm houses and have a cordial meal. We’ll look at photos and watch three or four football games. If we’re wise and not too lazy, though, we’ll walk a few times around the park to aid digestion before we bury ourselves in those easy chairs.
That’s what I like about Thanksgiving, getting all muffled up with only the face exposed to get a red nose from the frosty air. It will be dusk, with just enough daylight to create an orange-red horizon as though there were a forest fire going on over the nearby hill.
The trees, without a single leaf left, will lose their definition as we observe them from trunks to twigs, and they become a mousy gray mass at the top, where they meet the golden and purple sky.
All the field of grass will be brown and quiet, not a breath of breeze to disturb it. But no, a rabbit just jumped out of a clump of bushes we were passing and darted in a triangular pattern into another hedge.
Down the road a ways, some little boys will be playing football in the park, in their imaginations identifying with their NFL heroes of the time. As they fall and roll they collect bits of the brown grass and dead leaves on their coats and stocking caps.
The next day we can return to the concerns of Iraq and our own stumbling democratic discourse. Just for this day it is better to forget it all and to lose one’s self in a revery of the scene of frost and trees and boys playing. That’s what I can be thankful for.
NOTE: Due to historical changes since this essay’s first version was published in the Monahans News (Nov. 22, 1979), I have altered its content so much as to render it almost a different writing.