Thanksgiving 2012 has rolled by! I know our rotational and revolution speeds are relatively constant, but sometimes it seems earth pirouettes and spins like a ballet dancer, ripping calendar pages into the wind.
With no siblings and dead parents, my observance has lost much of its traditional feel but memories of decades past remain delicious. My wife Ann and I are attempting to put our personal stamp on this holiday given that our kids are scattered from Tokyo to Tampa.
To this end we’ve substituted traditional turkey and dressing with lobster and melted butter.
But not to worry, we’ll still get our absolutely vital giblet gravy fix at Christmas. Without at least one turkey-with-all-the-fixings dinner per year, we southerners lose our drawls. Bless our hearts.
This year we planned to add a new personal tradition. With all the hype about "Black Friday" shopping, we thought it might be neat to give this wee-hour ritual a toss.
Now to properly join the markdown hordes we needed a target, a specific "deal." Voila! Belks has a CD player Ann likes, and would you believe that player was listed to be seriously reduced at midnight on Thanksgiving?
So we planned. We’d hit Belks at the bewitching hour. Earlier that day at 8 p.m., our in-laws Ralph and Connie launched a shopping strike on Walmart.
Connie called to report the battle was fierce and she was retreating. I’m told if captured by Black Friday Regulars, you could be held for coupon ransom. It can get ugly if you can’t produce a "Half-Off" chit.
Connie and Ralph drove by the mall and reported the line stretched forever.
That pretty much settled it. I might stand for hours waiting for a kidney but a CD player? Not hardly.
Thanks to those adventurous relatives’ reconnoitering and reporting skills, we were spared a hugely trying experience. Maybe they should rename this shopping shindig "Black and Blue Friday."
With all this jabber, I’ve skipped the real core of the holiday as an expression of thankfulness. Among the uncountable benefits of being part of this country, I’m most thankful for our military personnel.
Of course there’s standard litany about protecting freedoms and shielding our country from enemies. But my deepest personal appreciation is much more grassroots.
Besides saving the country, they’ve become a life preserver for our youth. Where else nowadays do kids learn to stand upright, speak clearly and respectfully and exhibit good graces and manners than in the military?
They enter military service not knowing much except how to slouch, mumble and text. They come out competent and confident citizens of substance.
There’s no telling how much money parents squander sending ill-prepared and un-motivated children to colleges to wander between classes looking for subjects with which they can "relate." Some soar but many plop into "fluff" majors no thicker than a video game DVD.
I doubt there’s anything better for today’s typical high school graduates than military service. Besides saving our nation, the Armed Forces saves young people. "Thank you" seems so inadequate.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.