I assume most of you out there don’t actually need instructions on what to talk about over Thanksgiving. But what fun would it be to write a post on this topic and not offer some suggestions? So here goes.
1. What you’re thankful for. Du-uh. I’ll start things off with saying that I’m thankful for God’s provision in my life and the lives of my loved ones. I’ve decided to spend the holiday being thankful and not asking the Lord for one blessed thing more than the relatively sustainable, hanging-in-there mess that trundles around with me. There’s a lot more to say here. Fill in your own blanks.
2. The blessing of not shopping on Thanksgiving. Or, if you prefer, the opportunities presented by Black Friday deals and special hours at your favorite department stores. Enjoy disagreeing and laughing about it. Point out that some states actually prohibit stores from being open on holidays. Reminisce, if you’re old enough to, about the much broader “blue laws” many states used to have. Decry the consumer culture. Hug the young people who think you’re an old fuddy-duddy. Shake your head over the foolishness of literally camping out in front of Wal-Mart for days before Thanksgiving, in order to get through the door first when Black Friday launches on Thursday evening.
3. The pope’s new apostolic letter, “Evangelii Gaudium” (Gospel of Joy). Yep, just dive right in there. (And no, I’m not Catholic, nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.) What did the pope mean about “a culture of prosperity” being a bad thing? What is a culture of prosperity, as opposed to some other form of culture? (A culture of poverty and limitations?) If the pope talks about what’s in our hearts – whether we’re caring about people or the stock market, the forgotten lives of the lost or our next electronics purchase – what does that mean about what governments should do?
4. The meaning of liberty. You’re going to end up talking about it anyway. Obamacare, gun rights, reproductive rights, the IRS, the government shutdown, Republicans, Democrats, the pope’s letter, Aunt Stella who can’t stand it when everyone talks so much politics – it’s going to come up. So talk. If there’s one topic that can’t be left alone this Thanksgiving, it’s what liberty means. The rubber has made contact with the road, people. There isn’t one single human transaction we can have, in anno Domini 2013, to which this discussion is not relevant.
The big political problem in our lives right now is that we Americans don’t have a common understanding of what liberty means: what it is we should try to protect; what our government should respect as a prior right of the people. We can’t gloss over that problem anymore, even for a day. That doesn’t mean we need to have big fights about it in the next 120 hours, with our sisters or fathers or in-laws, but it does mean we have to recognize that that’s what’s going on. We don’t all see liberty as meaning the same thing. That difference is the one that will decide our nation’s future. By extension, it will decide the world’s future, for at least a generation. It’s everyone’s issue.
I recommend starting your thought process with this editorial by Myron Magnet, from today’s Wall Street Journal. It’s short. It focuses on the first Pilgrims, and on what I perceive to be the core of liberty: liberty of religious and moral conscience. If we do not have that, there will be no other liberties. We will be beholden to man-made institutions for, literally, everything in our lives, from our livelihoods to what we dare to hope for the future.
And don’t worry about settling issues or coming to conclusions. We spend most of our days on earth with no idea of the power of simply saying things. People remember. They may disagree vehemently, at a moment in time, but they’ll remember what they heard. The day will come when they’re ready to let it sink it. Be the person who said what they remember. Don’t let it be an ideologue or a conspiracy theorist who said the last memorable thing. Get the ideas out there.
Keep in mind, Thanksgiving for us is an American holiday as much as a “holy day” of thanksgiving to God. If we Americans don’t talk about the meaning of liberty, who will? Just remember to hug Aunt Stella.
5. The commercialization of Christmas. Or other rotten, lousy things that are being done to Christmas. Come on, you know you want to. I’ve got a nice little list of complaints ready to expound on. I mean, seriously, the people two blocks over who put out their lights and their menagerie of inflatable snowmen and reindeer the day after Halloween (known in Christendom as All Saints’ Day)? What was that about? Not even Wal-Mart got the Christmas displays out that fast.
6. Hanukkah coming early this year. Who knew, right? It’s usually in December, and gets paired in the community consciousness, for no other good reason, with Christmas. Well, we think of lighting candles for both of those holidays too. Anyway, it starts this evening (the 27th) and runs through 5 December. Remember to add Hanukkah wishes to your holiday greetings. Challenge the kids to look up why Hanukkah falls on different days, and falls so early this year (if they haven’t already had to look it up for school).
7. Football. Not necessarily a safe topic in some households, but an ever-fertile one in most. Either everybody loves football, or at least some curmudgeons are famous for hating it. Either way, it’s good for a yakk-fest, especially with the new “targeting” rules this year. To keep things lively, be sure to bring up Rush Limbaugh’s theory on the chickification of football (for the uninitiated, that means “the turning of football into a girl-friendly sissypants spectacle, with pink doodads and institutional safety terrors”). There are lots of annual rivalry games this weekend in college football. There are some good pro match-ups on tap. High school conferences have their state championship games still to be played. Embrace the inner pigskin and just make sure there’s plenty of pie to go with.
And to all at TOC Nation: A happy and blessed Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. God bless us, every one.
*OK, technically, Libby didn’t mention that it’s fascist, and only implied that it’s creepy, while Kevin alluded obliquely to the Stalinist nature of the name “Organizing for Action.” But I promise, Jim Geraghty invoked the “liberal fascism” allusion.
J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,” Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.