What’s in a Date?

Thanksgiving is upon us in a couple of days. I feel 98% sorry for Thanksgiving. It lacks the cache of Halloween and is now little more than a rest period complete with mid-week football games before Black Friday (unless you’re in retail in which case you stuff down a meal, kiss your family and hustle off to work). My practice has been to have a quiet Thanksgiving day and then have family in on Saturday to give them the opportunity to celebrate elsewhere on the day and still make time for mom. This year, though, a cop and a heavy-duty tow truck driver who’s on call have split our day into Thursday and Sunday. I can’t remember the last Thanksgiving I had on a Thursday.

It doesn’t matter really. I mean, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of the month (next week in 2012) as the day of thanksgiving and praise. Up to then, states had randomly selected days to recognize and receive their many blessings. Canada, whose harvest is closer to finished in October—has theirs then.

I guess what bothers me is that Thanksgiving was pushed around by whiny retailers complaining about sales in 1939; there would only be 24 post-Thanksgiving days in which to shop. Roosevelt gave in and moved it up a week. Calendars were now wrong. Games had to be rescheduled. People of faith generally and loyalty to Lincoln particularly were outraged. About half the states went along with it, while half did not. A couple of them did both days. In the subsequent year, a few more states went along with what was being called “Franksgiving,” with confusion ensuing for another couple Thanksgivings until Congress fixed the celebration where it is today.

Did it work? The simple answer is “No.” Spending patterns shifted so the graph was more evenly distributed over the weeks leading to Christmas (instead of most of it the week just before), but spending was what had been expected.

The recovery was in full swing by then. Shell-shocked Europe, though, grimly watched as Hitler began invading one country after the next. But the President of the most powerful country in the world was puppeted by financiers, banks and others with interests in commerce in an effort to finagle more and more money from the American people.

Now it’s all about Black Friday. Odd when you remember that “Black Tuesday” was the moniker given to the day the Stock Market crashed in 1929–we all know that but did you ever think why it was BLACK. Somehow in our history classes we’ve filled in that blank to be a black day, a day of mourning, a day of loss and a grim future. Actually black and red are terms related to financial profit/loss statements. Black is good; not so good to “in the red” or showing a loss. (Kinda makes you wonder about that day in 1929 when we can see plainly these days who has benefited the most from the Great Recession–just sayin’)  Black Friday is called that because it’s the day that retailers pin their entire annual profit hopes on. The larger chains and mega-stores can literally afford to lose money ALL YEAR if they have a “good Christmas.” They’ll still be “in the black” on their profit/loss sheet. Merry Christmas, indeed.

Here’s what an e-notes writer says that sounds eerily familiar:

The stock market was only one cause of the Great Depression, however. Unequal income distribution was another problem. While businesses showed great profits during the 1920s, workers got only a small portion of this wealth in their low wages. People who had small incomes therefore bought merchandise on credit. Advertisers pushed them to do so with the slogan “Buy now, pay later.” Many consumers accumulated so much debt that they could no longer purchase products, leading to a slowing of manufacturing because there was a backlog of merchandise. During the 1920s American farmers in the Midwest had been suffering from drought conditions. Others had geared up for high production, but after the end of World War I (1914–18) they found that the international market was overstocked and prices fell so low that they could not make a profit on their crops. The banking industry also made mistakes in too freely lending money, especially to foreign countries trying to rebuild after the war. These countries had trouble repaying their debts. To make matters worse, the United States (and other industrialized countries) charged high import taxes on goods that other countries offered for sale. These taxes prevented countries from selling the goods they needed to earn the money to repay loans from U.S. banks.

Will we never learn?

Source: http://www.enotes.com/history/q-and-a/what-was-black-tuesday-286639  comment by “fact-finder.”


Pretty in Purple

I love purple. Here’s me in my favorite purple dress.

I also love The Color Purple by Alice Walker. It’s one of those books that’s different every time you read it. Because of that, you’ll get widely varied interpretations of the central messages put out there by different folks. Some people will swear it’s about racial injustice in the early 20th century. Some others will say it’s about the oppression of women. I think there’s an even more metaphysical layer.

Celie, who is 14 when the story begins, writes letters to a God she’s been told about but has little understanding of. She asks for a sign. He’s just one more man, and a white one at that, to victimize Celie the way every other man in her world does. Celie is pretty much emotionally numb, until her husband’s mistress, Shug, teaches her a different way of seeing. The story ends with Celie finally knowing love of family and friends and using her strength to be successful and independent.

Celie’s life is spent as a victim of her stepfather, whom she believed to be her father and who violated her sexually, and then her husband, whom she only knows for a long time as Mister. Her life outpictures her belief and understanding of God as she’s been told about him: hard, needing to be pleased, to be endured as capricious and uncaring. Everything she ever loved—her children, her mother, her sister Nettie—has been taken away from her and she basically shuts down. Life is to be survived.

One reason I love this story is it has so much to teach about God.

“Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe God is inside you and inside everything. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you’re looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.”

More from Celie: “Don’t look like nothing, she say. It ain’t a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found It…. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see It always trying to please us back.”

This presents Celie with a different perspective on God as good. As her understanding changes, she’s able to develop a love relationship with Shug and something of a friendship with her husband. Suddenly (it seems), circumstances change to where she finds the letters from Nettie that Albert has hidden from her all those years. As she reads Nettie’s letters and learns about all the wonders of Africa through Nettie’s eyes, she finds more and more to love about life and her strength increases. She had made one failed attempt to leave “Mistah Jail,” but at that point she still had a victim mentality. Learning that her children and Nettie are alive provides the counterpoint for her identity. She gradually lifts her consciousness level to a point where these events can happen and she finally get “out into creation.” She leaves with Shug and Squeak and opens a custom sewing business in Tennessee.

Celie’s life had to change when her thinking changed. There was a time when she was unable to accept any view of herself or any approach to her life except as a victim. Although we can presume from her solo visits into town that she could have left whenever she wanted, her shackles were essentially of her own making. She always had had faith in God, but as her understanding of God shifts from heartless taskmaster—mirrored in her stepfather and her spouse—to a God of love, her life follows suit. I can’t imagine Celie using “affirmations,” putting up inspirational Post-it notes or reading self-help books. Thinking different thoughts was the simple difference.