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Holiday columns, quite frankly, are tough to digest

November 25, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving.

I hope you appreciate the fact that I was up late last night mixing up big pans of literary humor, kneading mounds of fresh metaphors, rolling out sheets of dramatic irony, carving plentiful helpings of alliteration, serving up steaming hot platters of...

I'm sorry?

Oh fine, be that way. At least I made the effort, OK? I'm not like some fork-and-spoon systems analyst who feels entitled to take half the week off just because some 17th century witch-burner got the munchies.

And holiday columns, quite frankly, are not easy. On top of that, I've been busy lately, so if you will excuse me, I'm just going to go with an old standby today, knowing full well that I have an audience that consists of the estimated six people who actually have time to read the non-Christmas-sales section of the paper this morning.

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So be that as it may, it is nevertheless important that, as you sit down at your Thanksgiving table today to feast on the bountiful dishes of plenty, you pause before you bite into that first turkey drumstick to consider those whose are not as blessed as you.

Think of those in need, who are without adequate shelter, without adequate food, without adequate lipid-lowering medications like Zocor, people who as we speak are probably crawling underneath your bird feeder scrambling for a few stray seeds to stave off starvation for one more day. Think of the children who, through no fault of their own have parents, most of whom are too busy with their own selfish pursuits to help them figure out how the Master Chief can destroy the Covenant in Halo 2.

Think of the professional athletes who must work on this holiday for our amusement, with only fame and millions of dollars for reward. Think ever thus of the lowly squirrel, whose life is complicated by the fact that the starving people scarfed up all the bird seed, not to mention the birds themselves, who, now that I think about it, have really gotten the shaft in this whole bird-feeder anecdote that I've dreamed up, since, after all, it was the birds' seed to begin with. And think ...

Rats, I can't seem to think of any more creatures to think of. In fact, those last three paragraphs in total rang kind of hollow. Perhaps the whole "feel guilty about your blessings" jig is a hard one for me to cut. It's not really my style, whether I live in a blue state or not.

Maybe the old historical perspective will sound a little more authentic. Columnists forced to file on holiday weeks have been using that one for years, so how hard can it be:

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines pilgrim as "one who journeys in foreign lands." From this, we can reflect, perhaps with a degree of wistfulness and ultimately with greater knowledge, on the mysteries that have - wait a minute, "one who journeys in foreign lands?" How's that supposed to help? That doesn't mean anything. I journey in foreign lands. So? It's not like I walk around with a lace bib and some wack belt buckle on my hat. Come on Webster's, you're giving me nothing to work with here, nothing.

Maybe I can turn to a fellow columnist, Bill Tammeus, for help: "The idea of pilgrimage did not start with the English Separatists who came to the New World in 1620. (Nor did the idea of setting aside a day to give thanks.) As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, the concept of pilgrimage has roots tens of thousands of years old in the idea of local deities with limited authority."

Whew. I don't know. I fear that if I try to digest that paragraph, I shant have any room left for turkey. Surely George Will offers some lighter fare: "When giving thanks this year, think of Lena Woebbecke ... Lena was five in 1882 when her father, a German immigrant, died of smallpox."

No, never mind. There's something about smallpox and all the trimmings that does not a holiday make. Perhaps the best way, nay the only way, to write an appropriate holiday column is to tell you, with all sincerity from the bottom of my heart, that tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving, I will be signing copies of my new book "Home Detention" in the Food Court of Valley Mall from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. (Those who for some reason do not want to be anywhere near a shopping venue tomorrow can order online at www.humorpublisher.com).

Available at the same booth will be copies of "Our Past, Our People" an excellent photo history of Washington County produced by The Herald-Mail. This is a real work of serious art, as opposed to my book, which Webster's defines as "something that will make you want to take a journey in a foreign land - anything to gain distance from it."

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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