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Tag: Thanksgiving


A new normal this Thanksgiving?

For your Thanksgiving Day reading, Cokie and Steve Roberts write about the changing American family sitting down today for the feast. Does it look a little like yours?


By Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts

We all know the famous Norman Rockwell painting of a typical American family gathered around Grandma as she serves up a huge turkey. If Rockwell were painting today, his portrait of a Thanksgiving feast would have to include gay Uncle Kevin and perhaps a niece who’s brought her girlfriend home from college. (He might also sketch in the new Chinese daughter-in-law, but that’s another story.)

The American family is changing rapidly, and so are attitudes about same-sex marriage. In the last election, three states voted to approve the institution (Maryland, Maine and Washington), and one, Minnesota, rejected a move to ban it. The focus on Barack Obama’s re-election, and the attention paid to the critical Latino vote, obscured this historic milestone. Read more »


Pilgrims, Indians: There was a way to get along

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The traditional pictures of Thanksgiving turn the Indians into bit players. The Pilgrims sit at a long table sharing their bounty with the Wampanoag, one member of the tribe maybe lugging a deer into the clearing.

Not so. Indians outnumbered Pilgrims by roughly two to one at the feast. Half of the Mayflower’s passengers had died within a few months of their arrival 10 months earlier, and the Wampanoag were the only reason the rest of them were alive.

Under their leader, Massasoit, they had nurtured the English, formed an alliance with them and offered them large expanses of real estate. They had taught the Pilgrims to live off the land; the fish, game and corn they were eating in the fall of 1661 came courtesy of Wampanoag generosity.

Massasoit was no useful idiot, though. His once-large tribe had been just been devastated by plague introduced by white fishermen; the Wampanoag were being subjugated by the powerful Narragansett tribe. If the Pilgrims were using him, he was shrewdly using the Pilgrims to rebuild his power and counter the Narragansetts.
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Thanksgiving: A healthy break from a bleak year

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Thanksgiving is a loaded word.

Who do we give thanks to? Most Americans would start out with God; less theistic souls might move directly to family and friends.

What do we give thanks for? That gets tricky.

These are not good times. Something like 17 percent of Americans – roughly one in six – either lack jobs, have stopped looking for jobs or have settled for part-time jobs that don’t remotely meet their needs. Many others have seen their incomes fall.

We’re calling it the Great Recession. As the saying goes, the difference between a recession and a depression depends on whether you or your neighbor lost the paycheck. But even those who’ve still got their livelihoods can’t escape the sense of malaise that hangs over their communities.

Plus, there are winds of malaise blowing our way from Europe, which seems more likely each week to make things worse on this side of the Atlantic.

No, this is not the happiest of Thanksgivings. Circumstances have been considerably worse before: in the depths of World War II, the Great Depression and the Civil War. But that’s no consolation in the here and now, especially for Americans who’ve grown up in relative prosperity and had no conception the U.S. economy could go this far off the tracks.
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In a time of distress, thanks to all who reach out

This editorial appeared in Thursday’s print edition.

A Thanksgiving is often a matter of the glass half full vs. the glass half empty. Or, sometimes, the glass slightly full vs. the glass mostly empty.

To a lot of Americans, today feels like the latter. The Great Recession is hanging on like a case of the shingles. To the millions who’ve been out of work now for years, it may feel more like the Great Depression. In Washington, a real recovery – the kind that puts people back to work – is nowhere in sight.

Curiously, the two most noted Thanksgivings in our history – the Pilgrims’ first feast in the New World and Lincoln’s proclamation of the holiday – also played out in dire times.

Lincoln was definitely putting the best face on grim circumstances when he established the celebration on Oct. 3, 1863, as Americans were dying by the tens of thousands and the nation’s very survival was in doubt. Read more »


I’m thankful for . . . a tree with a good sense of direction

I lost an enormous blue spruce last night, probably due to the high winds. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it fell in the only possible direction it could fall and not hit my house or one of my three neighbors’ houses. If it had fallen just a few degrees another way, it would have landed right on my bedroom.

The only problem is that my entire back yard is filled with this tree. I’ll be dealing with my insurance company, but at least I’m not in the hospital. So I have a lot to be thankful

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For all this and more, we give thanks

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

It’s official: Giving thanks isn’t just a feel-good exercise. It actually has positive, tangible payoffs.

According to a study funded by the National Science Foundation, people who feel grateful for help are more likely to provide help to others. (That could explain why poorer folks give a higher percentage of their income to charity than wealthy ones.)

But giving thanks is also good for the givers. They’re less envious and resentful, they sleep better, exercise more and may even experience lower blood pressure, reports Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, and author of “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”

So keep that in mind as you give thanks today. You’re not just being grateful; you’re a force for good in the world and for yourself.
What are we thankful for this Thanksgiving Day? Read more »


In defense of the turkey

Every Thanksgiving, PETA scolds the country about eating turkey. Here’s this year’s beef. For what it’s worth, I think factory farming can be a nasty business indeed.

Pardon me, pilgrim: This Thanksgiving, ditch the dead bird

By Chris Holbein
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

If tradition holds, President Obama will soon “pardon” two turkeys — the “National Thanksgiving Turkey” and a backup — in a much-publicized ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.

I’m not sure what misdeeds turkeys raised for food need to be pardoned for, since most of them spend their entire lives crammed into filthy, windowless warehouses where they can barely take a step. But let’s not quibble: We should all follow the president’s lead and pardon a turkey this Thanksgiving.

Animal behaviorists tell us that turkeys are intelligent, social birds who enjoy the company of others. According to one poultry scientist, “If you throw an apple to a group of turkeys, they’ll play with it together.”

Turkeys are also loving, protective parents who are very bonded to their young. In the wild, turkey chicks stay with their mothers for up to five months, and a mother turkey will courageously defend her family against predators.

The story is very different for turkeys on factory farms.

Fatter turkeys mean fatter wallets for farmers, so these gentle birds are bred and drugged to grow so large so fast that their legs can’t even support their own weight. Many turkeys become crippled as a result — and some slowly starve to death within inches of food because they are unable to move. When PETA conducted an undercover investigation at one of the world’s largest turkey-breeding companies, a farm supervisor described the male breeding birds as “80 pounds on toothpicks.”
Read more »