Obviously, it is slow around here over the long holiday weekend.
Here’s my brief winter holiday weekend report:
1. My wife and oldest daughter left Louisville early Saturday morning to attend the Inaugural. They do not have tickets to any events, so they will be among the masses tomorrow. However, they did have a well-placed friend for a pre-Tuesday function. As a consequence, they already met the President-elect and the rest of the Obamas! More here.
2. While most of my family is out of town, I’ve been reading email and blog posts about the incoming administration.
This is the best line, by far: “Clinton would have picked a better secretary of State.”
Madam Secretary-to-be cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee easily, but the hearings had a somewhat unpleasant, if familiar, feel to them.
3. I’ve been crafting an assignment requiring my US Foreign Policy students to research likely changes Obama will bring. What will the “new beginning” look like?
Because my university has to complete its work before the Kentucky Derby (always the first Saturday in May), we begin our third week of classes tomorrow.
When I did this exercise on my own for publication in 2001, I didn’t anticipate 9/11 (“I do not address a litany of other potentially meaningful foreign policy concerns: … [including] terrorism”) or a new Iraq war (“Despite these menacing [campaign] statements and the early attack [bombings to enforce the no fly zone in February 2001], it seems unlikely that Iraq will be the foreign policy centerpiece of Bush II.”).
Sufganiot and Latkes for all. As I am perhaps the only one of the Tribe who dislikes latkes, I fully embrace the jelly doughnut as a religious celebration today. Last night, my wife and I were out at Barnes and Nobel, and ended up buying a book for our son. We had picked up a Dr. Seuss classic, as he’s really starting to enjoy them.
In line I was making a slight mockery of the Chanukah cards that they had displayed. Its not exactly a holiday you send cards for. I was wondering who was still a bundle of nerves, having so much Chanukah decorating to do, so much to get ready, with the one candle and all.
The lady in line behind me noted: Isn’t it a bit ironic that you’re buying Green Eggs and Ham as a Chanukah present for your son?
The terror attack on Mumbai certainly sucks the cheer out of Thanksgiving.
In fact, almost every Thanksgiving something terrible is happening somewhere in the world, whether headline grabbing or not. For over ten years, to take but two examples, it has been a pretty good bet that unspeakably awful (and probably non-headline grabbing) events are taking place in the Congo or the Sudan.
This is probably an inevitable consequence of a globalized world. It isn’t so much that death, terror, pain, and misery aren’t part of the landscape on any given Thanksgiving (or Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Ramadan, or whatever), but that it is easier for people not experiencing them to know about them.
One way of proceeding, then, is to say, in essence, “bad things are always happening; if I change my routine or feel guilty about having a good time, then I’d always be miserable. So just shield them out as so much noise and get on with it.” And that’s not totally unreasonable. I’d say it’s nothing more than a very human mechanism for survival, one all of us deploy nearly every day.
But I think there’s an alternative. Many religious holidays call upon us to pay attention to the plight of others, and to do what we can to adjust our daily lives in light of it. Thanksgiving, like many other national holidays, usually asks us to do that at a local level. Perhaps the “CNN effect” requires the trans-nationalization of national holidays.
Its Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. I’m in Ohio, visiting family in Cleveland and Canton. Driving out here Tuesday night was quite the adventure, there’s nothing like a minor snow storm on the Pennsylvania turn pike. When we finally did arrive at 1:30am, the driveway was slick and my car couldn’t make it up! There’s nothing like shoveling a driveway at 1:30am. There’s snow on the ground here–something that is a fact of life in Cleveland but inconceivable back in DC.
Yesterday I baked pies. Two plus a small mini-pie. Pumpkin. Used the recipe on the side of the pumpkin can, and made my own crust, its nice and flaky.