I can always tell it’s the day after Thanksgiving by how tight my pants are. (And I wear sweat pants!) Those 5 pounds I’ve been trying to lose for six months is now 10. Yikes.

Thanksgiving is the start of a holiday season that involves large quantities of food. (And increasing amounts of alcohol until New Year’s Eve when, at least this side of a 12-step meeting, being plastered is an accepted manner in which to greet the New Year.) But for humongous amounts of food, Thanksgiving is like starting the NFL season with the Super Bowl.

At Thanksgiving making a pig of oneself is practically patriotic. At no other holiday would I eat an entire pie. (I haven’t but I thought about it.) July 4 is a few hot dogs, a few beers and shoot off fireworks. But at Thanksgiving second helpings of delicious food and even thirds are a time-tested tradition.

Oddly enough some of the food, i.e. cranberry sauce, I have at no other time during the year. Stuffing, while very tasty, is also not something I generally eat during the other 364 days.

If yesterday was Thanksgiving that means today is Black Friday. It has an ominous sound … Black Friday! During the Jim Crow south Black Friday might have meant something else, but, on a lighter note, for decades it has referred to huge sales and huge crowds at department stores that open early as 4 a.m. on Friday.

But lately the hours of Black Friday keep getting even earlier until now many retailers, over the objection of organized labor (all the good that does), open up Thanksgiving evening!

Imagine wolfing turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and apple pie and hours later getting dressed for work. (I’d have to wear a dashiki.) Just the notion of working on such a full stomach gives me indigestion. At department stores everywhere I can imagine bloated employees stifling belch after belch while ringing up sales. (Two words to the clerks: breath mints.)

Some say the name Black Friday was picked because it’s the first day retailers turn a profit on the year, or are “in the black.” (Profits are recorded in black ink, ergo Black Friday.)

Another view is the name came from a horrific event in 2008. It seems a crowd of approximately 2,000 deal-hungry shoppers in Valley Stream, N.Y., waited hours outside in the cold for the 5 a.m. opening of the local Wal-Mart. The frigid crowd grew restless and when the doors finally opened the multitudes unintentionally trampled a 34-year old employee to death. (What a heartwarming holiday tale.)

According to newspaper accounts, the shoppers refused to halt their stampede even when employees attempted to intervene. (I suppose the disaster gave a lethal meaning to the term “bargain hunter.”)

But back to Thanksgiving, I’m hoping the Romneys had a wonderful holiday. (I can picture the scene, Ann busily supervising the caterers while Mitt busily compiles a list of who’s to blame for losing the election, with his own name being conspicuously absent.) Of course I’m assuming the Romney car elevator was working. Nothing is more of a holiday buzz kill than a car elevator on the fritz.

I’m also assuming the Limbaughs had a high time at Thanksgiving. (That’s not a reference to Oxycontin.) I’m just saying that when you earn $50,000,000 a year you can afford the best butterball. (I’m referring to the turkey not Rush’s physique.)

Frankly, since the recent election I’ve developed a new fondness for Rush. But I confess that was not the case during the 2006 election campaign when Rush mocked Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease. Fox was supporting candidates favoring stem cell research, but Rush felt he was “faking” his symptoms for sympathy and derisively imitated Fox’s involuntary body jerking.

The country didn’t find Rush’s wild gesticulating very amusing. In fact, in Missouri Limbaugh’s antics were cited as the reason Claire McCaskill won the Senate seat. Her narrow victory gave the Democrats a crucial Senate majority and many on the right angrily blamed Limbaugh.

On the next day’s broadcast, Rush threw a giant hissy fit. “I’m through carrying water for the Republican Party!” he pouted bitterly. But, since Rush’s listeners are primarily Republicans, and since they basically pay his $50,000,000 salary, his self-imposed exile lasted about 24 hours. But I’ve changed. Now I not only don’t despise Rush anymore, I worry where we’d have been without him.

Another repulsive Rush rant came in February, 2012, when third-year Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke advocated before Congress that women’s birth control ought to be included in health insurance plans. (Viagra has been in most plans for years.) Rush being Rush, he called Ms. Fluke “a slut.” But it turns out that when you’re trying to win over a whole class of voters, like 51 percent of all voters, apparently it’s a bad idea to insult them first. Who knew?

Rush’s vitriol only highlighted the right wing’s “war on women” (i.e. “legitimate rape” and rape “is something God intended”) and the combination was the key to Obama’s decisive victory.

So this Thanksgiving I’ve taken a whole new view of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, O’Reilly, Coulter, Palin, Santorum, and any others from the reactionary right. Let me be the first to wish you all a joyous holiday season. And please, whatever you do between now and November, 2016… never change.




Jack can be reached at jnsmdp@aol.com


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