Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Thanksgiving and the Pilgrim story

November 24, 2016

The story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast is more complicated, less sweetly sentimental and much more interesting than many might think.

LINKS

Native Intelligence: The Indians who first feasted with the English colonists were far more sophisticated than you were taught in school | But that wasn’t enough to save them by Charles C. Mann for Smithsonian magazine.

Ditch the Lovefest and Learn the Real Story of the First Thanksgiving by Glenn Garvin for Reason.

The Silver Lining of Thanksgiving Past by Ian Welsh.

Norman Rockwell’s images of Thanksgiving

November 22, 2015

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Sabbath observance as a class privilege

September 6, 2015

I attend church almost every Sunday morning.  Not everybody is able to do this.

Nowadays many people are forced to work on Sunday mornings or work on flextime schedules so that they don’t know whether their Sunday mornings will be free or not.   And even more are unable to have an old-fashioned Sunday dinner with family or spend Sundays visiting relatives and family friends.

Closed-on-SundayI hadn’t given much thought to this until it was pointed out this Sunday morning by Peter House, who serves as summer minister at First Universalist Church of Rochester NY.

Peter grew up in one of those families of whom members say later, “We were poor, but we were happy, because we didn’t know we were poor.”  His mother was a poor widow who supported the family by working in a retail store.

When he was a boy, Sundays were spent going to church, visiting relatives, paying respects at the cemetery to deceased loved ones, and eating family meals.

This started to erode when he was in his early teens, with the repeal of the Sunday blue laws and the coming of big box retail stores.   Churches adapted by holding multiple Sunday services and even Saturday evening services, but it was no long possible for his family to count on all being together at the same time on Sunday.  His mother was sometimes free on Sunday mornings, but no longer could be sure of knowing when.

Traditional holidays are being broken down as well.  Black Friday means that store employees have to cut short their Thanksgiving in order to be read to open at 5 a.m. or even midnight.  Now Walmart opens all day on Thanksgiving.

Peter’s weekday job is teacher of special needs children.  As part of an effort to teach social skills to children, he once talked to six of his students about Thanksgiving.  Five of the six had mothers who had to work on Thanksgiving Day.   Some of them didn’t know what a traditional Thanksgiving meal consisted of.  One thought Thanksgiving dinner was hot dogs cut up into macaroni and cheese.

The teachers’ aides at his school, many of them women of color, have to moonlight at other jobs, often big-box retailers.   Many miss not being able to cook holiday meals for their families.  But the reality of employment in 21st century America is that they can’t.

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Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation

November 27, 2014

Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.

To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plow, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.

They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,Secretary of State

via Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.

George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation

November 26, 2014

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–

And whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

1presNow therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–

That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–

for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–

for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–

for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–

for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–

for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;

and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–

to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–

to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–

to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations especially such as have shewn kindness unto us and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–

To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–

and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

via George Washington Papers: Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.

‘As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

November 24, 2014

This episode of WKRP in Cincinnati is the funniest thing I ever saw on television.

SMALL THANKS 2014

November 23, 2014

reasontobethankful.qmI have many things for which to be thankful.  I have never in my life had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or whether I would have a roof over my head.  I have never been without friends.  I have good health for somebody my age (nearly 78).  I can honestly say I have everything I really want.

But this post is not about these things.  It is about small things for which I am thankful.

I am thankful for automobiles that don’t rust out.  When I first came to Rochester, the city and county governments used to spread large amounts of road salt in the winter.  Natives and long-time residents told me it was important to get a good rust-proofing service; I, foolishly, used an inexpensive service instead, to my regret.  Road salt is less of a problem now than it was then, but the plastic body of my Saturn doesn’t rust.

I am thankful for automobiles that always start in the winter.  I can remember when this was a big issue.  I would run my car in neutral when I got home, and before I tried to start the car, in hope of recharging the battery enough to get a good start.  Now, with alternators as standard equipment, that recharging takes care of itself.  I am thankful for automobiles that get good traction on ice-covered and snow-covered streets, for right-side rear view mirrors and for rear-window defrosters.  I am thankful for idiot bells that let me know when I am getting out of the car with my lights still on or my key still in the ignition; this idiot needs the reminder.

I am thankful for ballpoint pens that don’t leak over my shirts when I accidentally put them in the washer.

I am thankful the Barnes & Noble bookstore provides chairs so I can sit and read.

I am thankful for painless dentistry.  As a boy, I once had a tooth extracted without anesthetic.  The dentist used what looked like a pair of pliers.  He pulled and pulled and pulled, then had to stop and catch his breath before going back and finally getting it out.

I am thankful for plastic bottles shaped with grips.

I am thankful for thermostats.  My parents had a coal furnace, and we had to be constantly thinking not letting the fire go out, but also banking the furnace so as not to waste coal.  One of my chores, since both of my parents worked outside the home, was to go right home when school let out and shovel fresh coal in the furnance.  Now I have a gas furnace that doesn’t have to be monitored at all, and a thermostat which I can turn up or down when I feel too hot or too cold.

I am thankful for luggage with wheels.  I can remember walking through airports and, before that, train stations carrying suitcases that felt like they would pull my arms out of their sockets.

I am thankful for search engines since as Google that allow me to find information in two minutes that I would have had to spend an afternoon in library to get, if I could find it at all.  I am thankful for web hosts such as WordPress that allow me to have my own web log, free of charge and without needing to be computer-savvy.  I am thankful for being able to communicate with friends in distant places through e-mail.  Not to mention spam filters which free me from having to continually purge my e-mail and web log comments.

I am thankful for direct-dial long-distance telephone service.  I can talk to people in distant states and even foreign countries at an affordable price and without having to deal with an operator.  And for telephone answering machines.  When I was a boy, telephone service was like Internet service today.  Most people had it, but a large minority didn’t.

And not all telephone users had private telephone lines. Basic telephone service in those days consisted of a party line, networking a number of households; the phones of everybody on the line rang on every call, but you were supposed to recognize the distinctive ring of your own line and not listen in to others’ calls.

Microwave ovens are a great boon to a lazy cook like me.  I do almost all my cooking nowadays, which consists mostly of frozen dinners, in the microwave.

What are your non-obvious reasons, small or large, to be thankful?

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Black Friday is crowding out Thanksgiving holiday

November 28, 2013

BlackFriday_chart-01

Black Friday is an economic arms race that benefits nobody—neither retailers nor shoppers.  Now, as the chart above shows, it is crowding out the traditional American Thanksgiving holiday.

Historically the big retail chain stores have opened earlier and earlier the day after Thanksgiving so as to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals.   Christmas shoppers stand in line before the store opening to gain a competitive advantage in finding bargains.  I don’t in the least criticize people with tight budgets for doing this.

Retailers, shoppers and store employees would all be better off if there was a law, or a legal means of reaching a mutual agreement, for retail chains to close early on Thanksgiving and open no earlier than 8 a.m. the day after.   Meanwhile those of us Americans who can afford to do so can vote with our dollars for companies such as Costco, Nordstrom, TJ Maxx and BJ’s Wholesale Club that allow their employees to enjoy a Thanksgiving holiday, even if they give up some sales dollars to do so.

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Things to be thankful for…

November 28, 2013

… all of which apply to me, through no merit of my own.

reasontobethankful.qm

Hat tip to quickmeme.

The Pilgrim Thanksgiving story…with a twist

November 21, 2013

thanksgivingCOMIC-chagrin-falls---thanksgiving

Click on Tom the Dancing Bug for more Ruben Bolling cartoons.

Hat tip to Bill Elwell.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s turkey recipes

November 22, 2012
F.  Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

1. Turkey Cocktail: To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of angostura bitters.  Shake.

2. Turkey à la Francais: Take a large ripe turkey, prepare as for basting and stuff with old watches and chains and monkey meat.  Proceed as with cottage pudding.

3. Turkey and Water: Take one turkey and one pan of water.  Heat the latter to the boiling point and then put in the refrigerator.  When it has jelled, drown the turkey in it. Eat.  In preparing this recipe it is best to have a few ham sandwiches around in case things go wrong.

4. Turkey Mongole: Take three butts of salami and a large turkey skeleton, from which the feathers and natural stuffing have been removed.  Lay them out on the table and call up some Mongole in the neighborhood to tell you how to proceed from there.

5. Turkey Mousse: Seed a large prone turkey, being careful to remove the bones, flesh, fins, gravy, etc.  Blow up with a bicycle pump.  Mount in becoming style and hang in the front hall.

6. Stolen Turkey: Walk quickly from the market, and, if accosted, remark with a laugh that it had just flown into your arms and you hadn’t noticed it.  Then drop the turkey with the white of one egg—well, anyhow, beat it.

7. Turkey à la Crême: Prepare the crême a day in advance.  Deluge the turkey with it and cook for six days over a blast furnace.  Wrap in fly paper and serve.

8. Turkey Hash: This is the delight of all connoisseurs of the holiday beast, but few understand how really to prepare it.  Like a lobster, it must be plunged alive into boiling water, until it becomes bright red or purple or something, and then before the color fades, placed quickly in a washing machine and allowed to stew in its own gore as it is whirled around.  Only then is it ready for hash.  To hash, take a large sharp tool like a nail-file or, if none is handy, a bayonet will serve the purpose—and then get at it!  Hash it well!  Bind the remains with dental floss and serve.

9. Feathered Turkey: To prepare this, a turkey is necessary and a one pounder cannon to compel anyone to eat it.  Broil the feathers and stuff with sage-brush, old clothes, almost anything you can dig up.  Then sit down and simmer.  The feathers are to be eaten like artichokes (and this is not to be confused with the old Roman custom of tickling the throat.)

10. Turkey à la Maryland: Take a plump turkey to a barber’s and have him shaved, or if a female bird, given a facial and a water wave.  Then, before killing him, stuff with old newspapers and put him to roost.  He can then be served hot or raw, usually with a thick gravy of mineral oil and rubbing alcohol. … …

11. Turkey Remnant: This is one of the most useful recipes for, though not, “chic,” it tells what to do with the turkey after the holiday, and how to extract the most value from it.  Take the remnants, or, if they have been consumed, take the various plates on which the turkey or its parts have rested and stew them for two hours in milk of magnesia.  Stuff with moth-balls.

12. Turkey with Whiskey Sauce: This recipe is for a party of four.  Obtain a gallon of whiskey, and allow it to age for several hours.  Then serve, allowing one quart for each guest.  The next day the turkey should be added, little by little, constantly stirring and basting.

13. For Weddings or Funerals:  Obtain a gross of small white boxes such as are used for bride’s cake.  Cut the turkey into small squares, roast, stuff, kill, boil, bake and allow to skewer.  Now we are ready to begin.  Fill each box with a quantity of soup stock and pile in a handy place.  As the liquid elapses, the prepared turkey is added until the guests arrive.  The boxes delicately tied with white ribbons are then placed in the handbags of the ladies, or in the men’s side pockets.

via Lists of Note.

Why did the turkey cross the road?

November 22, 2012

turkey_bookmarks_jokes_320

Q. Why do turkeys go “gobble gobble”?

A. Because they have terrible table manners.

turkeyjokeQ, What’s big and green and goes “gobble gobble”?

A. Turkeysaurus Rex

Q. What’s inside a genie’s turkey?

A. Three wishbones.

Q. Why did the turkey cross the road?

A. The chicken gets major holidays off.

Q. What happened when the turkey got into a fight?

A. He got the stuffing knocked out of him.

Q. What does Godzilla eat on Thanksgiving?

A. Squash.

Q. What do mathematicians do on Thanksgiving?

A. Count their blessings.

Q. What always comes at the end of Thanksgiving?

A. The letter G.

via Making Light.

Thanksgiving 2012

November 21, 2012

thankful

If the only prayer we ever said was “thank you,” it would still be enough.
    ==Meister Eckhart

If you think about reasons to be thankful and grateful, you cease to make yourself unhappy by feeling frustrated, resentful or worried about things that don’t matter.

If you click on What I Am Grateful For and read other people’s reasons for thankfulness, you may find reasons for thankfulness and gratitude about your own life.

Small thanks 2012

November 20, 2012

rockwell_thanksgiving11

This is an update of a post which I wrote in November, 2010.

I have many things for which to be thankful.  I have food, clothing and shelter, and no reason to fear going without.  I had parents who loved me, set a good example for me and provided for my material needs.  I have never been without friends.  I have good health for somebody my age (75).  I live in a free country under the rule of law.  I live in an age when the great mass of my fellow citizens can devote themselves to other things besides working to survive.  And I am thankful for the gift of life itself.

But this post is not about these things.  It is about small, easy-to-overlook things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for automobiles that don’t rust out.  Road salt is less of a problem now than 30 years ago, but the plastic body of my Saturn doesn’t rust anyhow.

I am thankful for automobiles that always start in the winter.  I can remember when this was a big issue.  I would run my car in neutral when I got home, and before I tried to start the car, in hope of recharging the battery enough to get a good start.  Now, with alternators as standard equipment, that recharging takes care of itself.  I am thankful for automobiles that get good traction on ice-covered and snow-covered streets, for right-side rear view mirrors and for rear-window defrosters.  I am thankful for idiot bells that let me know when I am getting out of the car with my lights still on or my key still in the ignition; this idiot needs the reminder.

I am thankful for left turn lanes on expressways, for left turn signals on traffic lights and for automobile turn signals replacing hand signals.   I am grateful to snowplow operators in Rochester who keep the roads clear in the worst of conditions.

I am thankful for affordable airplane travel, which makes it possible for me to good see my brother in California or my good friend in Texas in only half a day.  This is easy to take for granted, but I can remember when airplane travel was a luxury and middle-class people traveled by train, and crossed the ocean by ship.

I am thankful for luggage with wheels.  I can remember walking through airports and, before that, train stations carrying suitcases that felt like they would pull my arms out of their sockets.

I am thankful for ballpoint pens that don’t leak over my shirts when I accidentally put them in the washer.

I am thankful bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders provide chairs so I can sit and read.  They don’t lose money by allowing me to read their books free; I spend more there than I otherwise would.

I am thankful for painless dentistry.  As a boy, I once had a tooth extracted without anesthetic.  The dentist used what looked like a pair of pliers.  He pulled and pulled and pulled, then had to stop and catch his breath before going back and finally getting it out.

I am thankful for plastic bottles shaped with grips.

I am thankful for thermostats.  My parents had a coal furnace, and we had to be constantly thinking not letting the fire go out, but also banking the furnace so as not to waste coal.  One of my chores, since both of my parents worked outside the home, was to go right home when school let out and shovel fresh coal in the furnace.  Now I have a gas furnace that doesn’t have to be monitored at all, and a thermostat which I can turn up or down when I feel too hot or too cold.

I am thankful for hot water heaters.  I can remember when the only way to take a warm bath was to heat a kettle on a stove, and pour the boiling water into a tub of cold water.

I am thankful for search engines since as Google that allow me to find information in two minutes that I would have had to spend an afternoon in library to get, if I could find it at all.  I am thankful for web hosts such as WordPress that allow me to have my own web log, free of charge and without needing to be computer-savvy.  I am thankful for being able to communicate with friends in distant places through e-mail.  Not to mention spam filters which free me from having to continually purge my e-mail and web log comments.

I am thankful for cable television which enables me to receive broadcasts from places other than the city I live in.  And I am thankful for YouTube and Internet television which enables me to see broadcasts that my local cable carrier does not carry.

I am thankful for direct-dial long-distance telephone service.  I can talk to people in distant states and even foreign countries at an affordable price and without having to deal with an operator.  And for telephone answering machines.

When I was a boy, telephone service was like Internet service today.  Most people had it, but a large minority didn’t.  And not all telephone users had private telephone lines.  Basic telephone service in those days consisted of a party line, networking a number of households; the phones of everybody on the line rang on every call, but you were supposed to recognize the distinctive ring of your own line and not listen in to others’ calls.

Microwave ovens are a great boon to a lazy cook like me.  I do almost all my cooking nowadays, which consists mostly of frozen dinners, in the microwave.  But I also am thankful for farmers’ markets, where I can buy fresh vegetables and fruit directly from the farm.  I am grateful for trail mix and Granola.   I am thankful for ethnic restaurants, which give me a taste of the world’s cuisines without me having to leave my native city.

I am thankful for unit pricing, which enables me to compare prices of what I buy at the supermarket.  Otherwise I would need a calculator to figure out what is the better bargain, and even then I might not be able to do it.

What am I overlooking?

What am I taking for granted?

Rochester’s Union Thanksgiving Service

November 24, 2011

Third Presbyterian

I celebrated Thanksgiving by attending an interfaith Union Thanksgiving Service this morning at Third Presbyterian Church here in Rochester, N.Y., with participating clergy from the home church, First Baptist Church, First Unitarian Church, First Universalist Church, Temple Beth El, Temple B’rith Kodesh, and Temple Sinai.

A Muslim representing the Islamic Center of Rochester preached the sermon, on the Quran’s teaching of the duty to be grateful for God’s blessings.  A member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church played the organ.

Union Thanksgiving Services have been held in Rochester every year starting in 1874, when First Unitarian, First Universalist and Temple B’rith Kodesh held a joint Thanksgiving service.  Our claim is that it is the longest-running Union Thanksgiving Service in the United States.

The hosting of the services is rotated among the participating congregations, and the different parts of the service are rotated among the participating clergy.  Next year Temple B’rith Kodesh will host the service, and somebody from First Baptist Church will give the sermon.

One exception to the rotation is the Muslim call to prayer, which is part of each year’s service.  When done properly, it is very powerful and penetrating, and I can imagine someone on a minaret being heard for a mile or more.  This year’s caller was a college student, who wasn’t quite as powerful as some of the more experience callers in prior years.

Another thing we always have is the blowing of the shofar, or ram’s horn, which is part of Jewish worship.  This year the blower played a kind of tune on the shofar, which I’d never heard before and wouldn’t have been sure was possible.

Giving of thanks for blessings, and celebration of harvest-time festivals around harvest-time, are part of every religion and culture of which I know.  Knowing I live in a world where people are still killing each other in the name of religion, I feel good when I am able to attend an interfaith service such as this.

I wouldn’t be so bold as to claim that interfaith religious services happen only in America, but I think they represent what is good in American life—the willingness of people of diverse heritages to seek common ground.

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks”

November 24, 2011

Chief Tecumseh

I’ve always liked the following quote, which is attributed to Chief Tecumseh.

Live your life so the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for your life and your strength.  Give thanks for your food and the joy of living.  And if perchance you see no reason for thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.

I’m not sure the quote is correctly attributed, but I like it.

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Small thanks

November 21, 2010

I have many things for which to be thankful.  I have never in my life had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or whether I would have a roof over my head.  I have never been without friends.  I have good health for somebody my age (73).  I live in a free country under the rule of law.  I live in an age when the great mass people can devote themselves to other things besides working to survive.  Above all, I am thankful for the gift of life itself.

But this post is not about these things.  It is about the small things I have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for automobiles that don’t rust out.  When I first came to Rochester, the city and county governments used to spread large amounts of road salt in the winter.  Natives and long-time residents told me it was important to get a good rust-proofing service; I, foolishly, used an inexpensive service instead, to my regret.  Road salt is less of a problem now than it was then, but the plastic body of my Saturn doesn’t rust anyhow.

I am thankful for automobiles that always start in the winter.  I can remember when this was a big issue.  I would run my car in neutral when I got home, and before I tried to start the car, in hope of recharging the battery enough to get a good start.  Now, with alternators as standard equipment, that recharging takes care of itself.  I am thankful for automobiles that get good traction on ice-covered and snow-covered streets, for right-side rear view mirrors and for rear-window defrosters.  I am thankful for idiot bells that let me know when I am getting out of the car with my lights still on or my key still in the ignition; this idiot needs the reminder.

I am thankful for ballpoint pens that don’t leak over my shirts when I accidentally put them in the washer.

I am thankful bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders provide chairs so I can sit and read.  They don’t lose money by allowing me to read their books free; I spend more there than I otherwise would.

I am thankful for painless dentistry.  As a boy, I once had a tooth extracted without anesthetic.  The dentist used what looked like a pair of pliers.  He pulled and pulled and pulled, then had to stop and catch his breath before going back and finally getting it out.

I am thankful for plastic bottles shaped with grips.

I am thankful for thermostats.  My parents had a coal furnace, and we had to be constantly thinking not letting the fire go out, but also banking the furnace so as not to waste coal.  One of my chores, since both of my parents worked outside the home, was to go right home when school let out and shovel fresh coal in the furnance.  Now I have a gas furnace that doesn’t have to be monitored at all, and a thermostat which I can turn up or down when I feel too hot or too cold.

I am thankful for luggage with wheels.  I can remember walking through airports and, before that, train stations carrying suitcases that felt like they would pull my arms out of their sockets.

I am thankful for search engines since as Google that allow me to find information in two minutes that I would have had to spend an afternoon in library to get, if I could find it at all.  I am thankful for web hosts such as WordPress that allow me to have my own web log, free of charge and without needing to be computer-savvy.  I am thankful for being able to communicate with friends in distant places through e-mail. Not to mention spam filters which free me from having to continually purge my e-mail and web log comments.

I am thankful for direct-dial long-distance telephone service.  I can talk to people in distant states and even foreign countries at an affordable price and without having to deal with an operator.  And for telephone answering machines.  When I was a boy, telephone service was like Internet service today.  Most people had it, but a large minority didn’t.

And not all telephone users had private telephone lines. Basic telephone service in those days consisted of a party line, networking a number of households; the phones of everybody on the line rang on every call, but you were supposed to recognize the distinctive ring of your own line and not listen in to others’ calls.

Microwave ovens are a great boon to a lazy cook like me.  I do almost all my cooking nowadays, which consists mostly of frozen dinners, in the microwave.

(more…)