The Holiday Season is upon us again. Seems like it happens every year.
Now if I was back home in the UK, I'd have to leave this post for a month or so as I'd be talking about Christmas and in mid November I just can't bring myself to do that.
But here in The Colonies there is Thanksgiving on Thursday and combined with Christmas, it's all called The Holidays. So we go around wishing everyone Happy Holidays and good stuff like that. I'm still not sure what reply to give so mostly I come out with a pathetic "Thank You" as if I've actively done something to deserve their greeting.
So how does one tell that this holiday season is approaching ?
Well even if you don't have a clue about the current date, there are numerous clues all over the place.
One bizarre clue on tv this morning was President Bush on the White House Lawn giving a press conference to pardon 2 large turkeys. I know what you're thinking, but it wasn't Michael Vick and Mike Tyson. It was 2 real honest to God turkeys. The incumbent President has done this every year since 1947 and as usual with most things GW is involved with, it doesn't always end well.
Actually, this photo is from a previous year and apart from his usual embarrassing ad libs to journalists, this year's pardon went relatively to plan.
"May" and "Flower" will not make it onto a Thanksgiving menu (even though, according to a Bush quip, VP Cheney wanted to call them "Lunch" and "Dinner"). The silence from the assembled hacks was deafening.
For many years, the pardoned gobblers were sent off to Kidwell Farm in Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia. A rather unfortunate park name if ever there was one.
But the times they are a changin' and these birds are being flown to Disney World where they will act as honorary Grand Marshals at the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. I could have sworn GW said 'first class' but I can't believe that. I'm sure in the hold of a military plane would suffice.........just open the bomb bay doors over Main Street USA and let them go.
I guess when they hit ground zero the carnage might traumatise a few kids but then this generation are so used to bloodfests on video games that they'd just cheer and call it the best Parade ever.
Given the choice I suspect "May" and Flower" would rather have had their necks wrung yesterday.
Another sign of the times (holiday times that is) are the commercials on TV. The word Christmas is rarely used as this allows the commercials to be shown ad nauseam (geddit ??) from now till sometime in mid January. Anyway, the word Christmas isn't PC anymore.
Right now the main commercials focus on Black Friday which I blogged about last year but for those who weren't 'with me' back then and don't live in the US of A, Black Friday is the huge sale day after Thanksgiving. You can pick up some amazing bargains if you're prepared to sleep outside the stores and manage to get through the doors at 6am faster than an Olympic sprinter on steroids. Even then I suspect all the REALLY good sale products have somehow managed to sell out and you'd be better of breaking into the cars and trucks in the employee parking area !!
Oh when did I get to be so cynical ??
Another clue to the time of year - gas prices increasing. Over the next 2 days, most of America will be on the move. By road and by air, millions will suffer long lines at airports, long lines at car rental locations and even longer lines on the nations interstates.
Actually traffic jams aren't usually an issue here as whenever one occurs, they quickly build another lane and traffic flows again. That explains why a 36 lane highway now goes right into Cretinville, Arkansas (Pop: 247 with the birth last night of Silas Buttonmeister Jr) even though a few years ago all it had was a 2 lane dirt track. Everytime Chuck "John Deere" Jones drove his tractor along the road at 5mph and caused a 3 car jam to build up behind him, a new lane was added.
For the money grabbing petroleum companies, these are happy times indeed. Slap a few extra cents on a gallon of gas and it'll make no difference at all over Thanksgiving. People will still drive. Oh sure they'll moan and bitch about the extra cost but......sure as eggs are lemmings, they'll still drive. There is a homecoming gene in every true American and it kicks in at this time of year. The commercials play on it and offer minute long saccerine laden mini masterpieces with the head of the enlarged family standing over the (close your eyes "May" and "Flower") beautifully cooked turkey making a speech about family, good times and being thankful - with no mention of airport chaos, road rage or even Uncle Mort who was last heard of heading West into Big Bend Natl Park when he should've been with them in New Jersey.
( And yes I realise my suspect phrasing back there makes it sound like it's the deceased turkey making the speech. Enjoy )
With gas prices here approaching half what we pay in the UK (I noticed today that it's almost £1/litre now in my hometown of Leeds and that comes to £3.79 for a US gallon and so, at current rates, $7.76/gallon), many motorists are having to make life changing decisions about what they drive and where they drive it to. But at Thanksgiving, those sorts of thoughts are far from uppermost and anyone looking down on America from above over the next couple of days would think the country is being overrun by ants on a Cecil B. DeMille scale.
Us ? Well we're staying in the park and having our Thanksgiving meal with friends. Last year we went to the community centre and shared the meal with a hundred or so other park residents but this time there will be just 5 of us around the table.
No planes, no cars, just a few hundred yards along the park roads.
So Happy Holidays to anyone who reads this post and to Uncle Mort, I suspect they're getting you a GPS for Christmas !