Saturday, October 26, 2013

Journeys and Holidays

Newport, Rhode Island
Over thirty-eight years ago I stepped on a plane at Manchester, New Hampshire that would take me to San Antonio, Texas, where I would begin my career in the United States Air Force. That adventure would last for 24 years. Until the day 14 years ago when I stepped off another plane at Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Whereas twenty-four years before I had begun the adventure alone, now I was accompanied by a wife, three children and a much beloved cat. (Who was rather displeased with all this traveling!)

So in one sense I had come full circle. I had left my beloved Vermont for a life which would literally take me around the globe. But one day I knew that I would return to New England. It is the land of my people. My forefathers are buried here. It's where I belong.

Now I live in Rhode Island. Oddly enough, in the twenty-two years I had lived in New England before the Air Force I had never visited Rhode Island. I lived in Vermont, my grandparents lived in New Hampshire, we vacationed in Maine and we had friends we would visit in Massachusetts. I went to Connecticut on business a number of times, but never had I traveled to Little Rhody. Until I went down for a job interview, post-Air Force.

The Missus Herself and I fell in love with this smallest state in the union. The views of Narragansett Bay, the lovely towns on Aquidneck Island and Bristol Neck called out to me. This was to be home in this new phase of my life.

What does all this have to do with holidays you might ask. The title after all is "Journeys and Holidays". All the above is a brief outline of the journeys it took to get me to this point in my life, but where is the "holiday" part? Patience, we're getting there. For me it's all about the journey. Or tangent if you will. I'm always off on those. Digressions, my stock in trade if you will.

So I'm a New Englander by birth and by choice. That and my time in the Air Force has given me a rather peculiar view of holidays. And what brought all this on is that my blog pal Suldog has kicked off his annual "Thanksgiving Comes First" Campaign. This year there's a pledge involved.

Well, I hadn't planned on shopping on Thanksgiving anyway. I would encourage others not to do so either. But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

Some of you (the one's who use an actual computer to follow the blog) will have noticed that I have a new thingee over there on the sidebar. It looks like this:

Now this whole "Thanksgiving Comes First" thing stems, I think, from an observation I made in my local grocery emporium the other day. Others have noticed this, that's no doubt how this whole campaign started.

In the "seasonal" aisle there is, as one might expect, Halloween candy. As Halloween approaches and the little munchkins will be out and about extorting soliciting candy from the neighbors. Therefore the stores have it in bulk quantities. Prominently displayed.

An aside: back about a decade ago, the wee ones stopped coming to our neighborhood. Seems the parents were now caravaning their progeny over to the rich neighborhoods as the pickings were better. Bloody mercenaries! Of course, it does save me some money, not having to buy all that candy to give away. Though I do miss the wee ones in their costumes.

Now where was I? Oh yes, the pledge to not shop on Thanksgiving. I will be joining that whole Thanksgiving Comes First thing soon. Like on or about November first. You know, AFTER HALLOWEEN!

But in my local grocery emporium, on the shelves up high, there was, ISYN*, Christmas stuff. Candy canes and a few assorted decorative items.

Perhaps the store is prepositioning this stuff for when the Christmas stuff completely takes over the seasonal aisle. Much like we prepositioned military equipment in Europe back in the bad old days. (What? It's not like that? Oh, but I thought... Yes, yes I see. An M1A1 Abrams and a box of candy canes have naught in common. Sure okay, got it!)

So yes, the Christmas stuff is starting to appear. Halloween isn't even here yet and Thanksgiving is a month away!


But for your edification, here's what Yours Truly counts as "holidays". First off, a holiday is something where you enjoy yourself with family and friends. It's a celebration. So what I count as holidays are, as follows, in chronological order:
  1. Easter
  2. The Fourth of July
  3. Halloween
  4. Thanksgiving
  5. Christmas
Yup, that's it. Five holidays total.

What about Memorial Day and Veterans' Day you ask?

On Memorial Day, I remember those who gave their lives for my freedom.

On Veterans' Day I remember those who fought for my freedom. And survived.

Memorial Day commemorates our hallowed dead. Veterans' Day commemorates those who honorably wore the uniform of the United States.

No celebrations there. Just somber reflection. I don't count those as "holidays".

What about Labor Day and Columbus Day?

Nope, won't touch those. One celebrates socialist labor the other a guy who was lost and "discovered" something that the First Peoples already knew about and that the Vikings had already visited.


I may have forgotten something. Oh yeah, Saint Patrick's Day. Well okay, I do kinda sorta celebrate that one. While I'm not Irish, I do love the Irish. As a Scotsman, they're kinda like second cousins, once removed or something. Besides which, the Scots and the Irish share similar tastes in music.

(Turn away Buck, close yer ears! Ye'll no appreciate this tune.)

Ah, now that gets the blood pumping, doesn't it?

And don't get me started on New Year's Eve or Day, or whatever. I used to like that one, sort of, when the best college bowl games were played New Year's Day. They're not anymore. So New Year's Day is a giant waste of time. Besides which, I love Christmas and shortly after Christmas people all start going on about New Year's. Bah, humbug.

So there you have it. Five major holidays and one minor one (St. Paddy's). Two days of somber reflection. The rest of those so-called holidays you're welcome to.

And Halloween is next.

Then Thanksgiving.

So there.

*ISYN = I sh!t you not.


  1. Can't disagree with your logic, although I will discuss Halloween. If you're discussing All Hallow's Eve, I think you're dead on. If, however, you're discussing a bacchanalia of skimpy costumes and sugar overdosed kids, I'm gonna respectfully disagree. And I could make a similar argument about Christmas.

    1. Well I think we'd have to agree to disagree on Halloween. I think it's fun for the kids, when we were young the sugar was strictly rationed. Skimpy costumes, not so much. After the kids are grew up and moved away I didn't really think much about Halloween, but now I've got grandkids and they really enjoy it. Seeing the joy in their faces is what makes Halloween a holiday for me. Being a Protestant I didn't know much of the day's religious aspects until I grew up.

      As for Christmas, for me it is a celebration of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. First and foremost. But again the little ones enjoy the tinsel and glitter and the presents. I won't lie, so do I. But I literally will get teary-eyed hearing songs like Oh, Holy Night and a few others. Because that's what Christmas should be about.

      Not going crazy in the stores, that's for sure.

    2. I think we're pretty much in sync. Same thoughts, different words.

  2. I celebrate New Year's Day... in the past it was more of a "well, we survived yet another one" kinda thing, whilst nursing a hangover of either moderate or gargantuan proportions, but lately it's a day to pause and reflect both on the immediate past (the year that came before) and the immediate future. I think both activities are eminently worthwhile.

    Other than that? Our holiday lists coincide.

    I'll be joining Jim's "TCF" effort on 1 November, as well.

    1. As I tend to pause and reflect most days, New Year's doesn't do it for me. Quite frankly it's just a new calendar and I have to remember the new date when I write a check.

      But I respect others celebration of that day. I do get that. But for me, it's superfluous. (And I'm sure my Scots ancestors are spinning in their graves over that. Hogmanay is a big Scottish holiday. Not for me though.)

  3. I joined the Thanksgiving crusade because Buck asked so nice. That first picture looks more like Middletown than Newport. I loved living in Newport. Even the winters weren't bad except the one spent living on base.

    1. You may be right as regards the photo. But there are places within the township of Newport which look much like Middletown.

      I do love Rhode Island. But as to living on the base itself? Every time I go there, there is this chill wind blowing up the hill from the bay. In the winter it will chill you to the bone!

  4. Have to agree with all... Being in the military you tend to treat holidays a bit differently (I used to take duty for the married guys when I was single), but I am now at the point that I HATE the proliferation of holidays and the marketing... Bah humbug...

    1. It's the marketing that bums me as well. I try to keep it simple. When I can see a twinkle of joy in my grandchildrens' eyes, then I know we're doing it right!

    2. Made one of my "once in a Blue Moon" trips to Wal-Mart the 1st of October ( no kidding Oct 1). It's still hot in Texas in October. Went looking for charcoal so I could barbecue, and the whole area where grills etc were is now Christmas decorations and Christmas Carols. Good Gravy! Enough already.

    3. Any time before Thanksgiving is too early, but October 1st? Ridiculous.

  5. Thanks for the mention and the link, my friend. I fully appreciate taking holidays in order, so I understand your not joining the revolution until November 1st or so. I'm just trying to coordinate a preemptive strike :-)

    1. Buck and I plan on coming hard and heavy on the first of November.

      Poor bastards will never know what hit them.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)