Tag Archive | holidays

What’s not to love about Halloween?

“I love Halloween. I can't wait for that time when the leaves fall, weather is colder, the sun is bright, the decorations are up, scary movies are on, and the hot chocolate is out!”

“I love Halloween. I can’t wait for that time when the leaves fall, weather is colder, the sun is bright, the decorations are up, scary movies are on, and the hot chocolate is out!”

I’ve written a few times before about my love of Halloween and my fondness for a certain type of spooky movie. Some years I have done elaborate decorating for the holiday. I often spend time planning a costume to wear to any Halloween party we might be attending. I always spend at least part of the month of October listening to what I consider Halloween music while planning what kind of movies I might watch on the actual night. And then, of course, there is trying to decide how much candy we will need to hand out that night1.

My love for Halloween began long before I knew that it used to be considered the high holy days of queers everywhere. Which was true at least since the 1920s until the straights co-opted it for Heteroween2. But I recognize that at least some of the reasons I loved Halloween back then are the same reason the holiday appealed to queer people for so long:

  • it was a day I could dress up as silly or weird as I wished without getting strange looks from people;
  • it was a day where other people would show off bits of their personality that weren’t obvious the rest of the year;
  • being closeted cultivated an ability to find humor in the absurdities and misfortunes of life;
  • trying to get along as a queer child in a straight world means that embracing make-believe and pretending to be what we aren’t a survival trait;

…which fits right in with Halloween!

Of course, when I say I could dress as silly as I wished, that wasn’t entirely true. I remember, for instance, the year that I really wanted to dress up as the character of Witchie-Poo from the Saturday morning live action show, H.R. Pufnstuf. Mom didn’t act appalled, but she argued with me until I gave in and let her buy me the really tacky H.R. Pufnstuf costume. Pufnstuf was supposed to be a dragon who was the Mayor of the enchanted island where the show’s action took place, but the store-bought costume was just a weird shaped green mask and a generic green onesie that had a picture of the character printed on the chest. My sister mentioned that I had wanted to dress up as Witchie-Poo within earshot of my dad and I got yelled at quite seriously about how boys don’t dress up as witches!

It wasn’t even that the character of Witchie-Poo appealed to me that much3. My recollection is that the store-bought costume for her had a magic wand prop, and I really wanted the magic wand. Of course, she was the villain of the show and I quite frequently find myself sympathizing with the villains.

Our friends that have been hosting a Halloween party almost every year for about 30 years are skipping this year. So I don’t think either of us will be making a costume. And although they gave us plenty of warning that we could have opted to host our own party, all of the years of going to their themed and wonderfully decorated parties casts a more-than-slightly intimidating shadow over the notion.

Maybe we’ll just try to get together with some people on the Saturday before.

But I have been working on my new Halloween playlist. I spent a lot of the last week listening to every single Halloween playlist I have made in the past4 as I decide what kind of list to put together this year. I have one assembled, I just haven’t decided if it is finished or still needs some tweaking.

Whether there is a party of not, or any dressing up, I still intend to enjoy myself, getting my spook on in various ways for the rest of the month.

Let’s have fun!


Footnotes:

1. My husband and I don’t believe in handing out so-called “fun size” candy. We usually get a few cases of full sized bars in hopes that we will get lots of kids.

2. But that’s okay. Straights need a socially sanctioned night to dress up as sexy nurses or sexy firemen. They’re so reppressed the rest of the year!

3. I mean, I thought she was hilarious, but…

4. Fifteen such lists in my iTunes library, by the way.

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Celebrate Indeginenous Peoples Day

Indigenous Peoples Day “Today we celebrate the people who first called this land home. We remember the struggles and tragedies they endured. We honor their place in and contributions to the shared story of America.”

Indigenous Peoples Day “Today we celebrate the people who first called this land home. We remember the struggles and tragedies they endured. We honor their place in and contributions to the shared story of America.” (click to embiggen)

America was inhabited already when Columbus blundered his way into the West Indies. They are called the West Indies, in case you didn’t know, because he thought he had sailed all the way around the world to Japan, China, and India. Seriously. He was convinced that San Salvador was Japan, and Cuba was China.

Columbus wasn’t a great thinker. Contrary to what school teachers were still telling us when I was in grade school, Europeans had known for centuries that the world was round. And Pythagoras and Aristotle had both deduced that the Earth was a sphere because of the shape of the Earth’s shadow on the moon during Lunar eclipses. Eratosthenes calculated the size of the Earth pretty accurately based on shadows at different latitudes more than 200 years before the time of Christ (He also correctly deduced the tilt of the Earth’s axis a bit later).

Columbus thought that Eratosthenes was wrong, that the Earth was much smaller, and that it would take only a short time sailing west to reach Asia. He was very wrong. And not just because there were two continents Europe didn’t know about.

And then there was the abominable way the Columbus and the Europeans that followed treated the people who lived here. It was not, as some of my other teachers used to say, merely that the Europeans had more advanced technology. The Europeans were fond of making written agreements with the people who already lived here, and then when it suited them, ignore the agreements and take, kill, or pillage whatever they wanted.

So, yeah, even though I am a pasty-skinned, blue-eyeed white guy with ancestors from places like Ireland, England, and France, count me as one of the people who celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day.

Tribes of the Indian Nation

Tribes of the Indian Nation (click to embiggen)

The movement to replace Columbus Day with a holiday honoring Native Americans have been around for a long time. In 1989 the state of South Dakota abolished the state observance of Columbus Day and enacted a Native American Day to be observed on the same day as the Federal Observance fo Columbus Day.

Several other states: California, Nevada, and Tennessee all observe a Native American Day in September (the California holiday first called for by then-Governor Ronald Reagan in 1968, though not enacted into law until 1998).

Governors in Alaska and Vermont (and probably others, but I haven’t found them, yet) have issued proclamations to declare and Indigenous Peoples Day, but neither state’s legislature has enacted it into law, and such proclamation tend to be ceremonial, usually assumed only to apply to the year issued.

On the other hand, a rather huge number of cities and towns all over the country have adopted ordinances replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Maybe when more follow more states will join South Dakota.

“Columbus didn't discover America, he invaded it!”

“Columbus didn’t discover America, he invaded it!”

Friday Links (favorite ho-ho-ho edition)

Holiday to-do list (click to embiggen)

Holiday to-do list (click to embiggen)

It’s Friday! It’s the day before the day before the night before Christmas! Or the fourth Friday in December if you don’t observe Christmas. I want to point out that I’m taoist, my husband is pagan, and our Christmas tree theme this year is Up In The Air, featuring all of our Star Trek and Star Wars ornaments, plus many different Santas and flying reindeer, pegasi from My Little Pony, birds of many kinds, Marvin the Martian in various space craft, and a big steampunk-ish zeppelin. So when I say Christmas I mean shiny lights, silly ornaments, presents, and time spend with friends.

Thursday was my last working day of the year. And as sometimes happens during these times, my department was up against a ridiculous deadline, so I worked very late. But I’m free for at least a while!

Anyway, here are links to stories I found interesting, sorted by category.

Links of the Week

Tell a different story about Santa this holiday season.

Black Santa And Me – The Rest Is History

10 SOCIAL JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS THAT ROCKED 2016 — AND NEED YOU IN 2017.

This Week in Holidays

c0bmmrquaaae0gd-jpg-largeNeil Gaiman: Hanukkah with bells on.

How Christmas Songs Help Us Fake It Through the Despair Times.

Fuck The Nutcracker: Why You Should Go See Every Ballet But This One. (Written by the daughter of a Russian Jewish ballet instructor…)

Christmas Ghost Stories: The Ghost of Christmas Past Goes Further Back Than You Might Realize.

News for queers and our allies:

Holiday Self-Care Package By LGBTQ For LGBTQ Encourages Self-Love For The Season.

A Conservative Defense of Transgender Rights.

Drawn to Comics: Queer and Trans Women and Nonbinary Creators To Support This Holigay Season.

Homeless Charities Warn Of ‘Dramatic Rise’ In Number Of LGBT Youth Being Thrown Out Of Home.

Transgender woman shares graphic videos of her facial feminisation surgery.

What Does Lesbian Mean in 2016?

Welcome to The New Queer.

Science!

5 Scientific Myths You Probably Believe About The Universe.

The 10 Weirdest Animal Stories of 2016.

An accelerating river of molten iron has been discovered under Alaska and Siberia.

Physicists have observed the light spectrum of antimatter for first time.

Why don’t we teach Einstein’s theories in school?

‘Blue-eyed Humans’ do not ‘Have A Single, Common Ancestor.

Dwarf planet Ceres is a really icy place, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows.

Thundersnow with ‘continuous’ lightning hit Hawaii on Sunday.

Spinning black hole swallows star – And, in the process, surpasses every supernova ever seen in terms of brightness.

How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Tabletop Gaming has a White Male Terrorism Problem.

Sci-Fi Tried to Warn Us About Leaders Who Want to ‘Make America Great Again’.

Give Us Back Our Fucking Gods.

‘Rogue One’ had a huge box office opening, which must be really awkward for the alt-right.

A quick rewrite which totally fixes the film Passengers.

Star Wars, In One Chart.

This week in Writing

Q & A with Peter Stampfel, Submissions Editor of DAW Books. “…As a rule, the unso­licited man­u­scripts tend to be of a higher qual­ity, by-​and-​large, than the ones com­ing from agents.”

Five Archetypes That Can Steal the Hero’s Spotlight.

How to Not Waste Your Words: The Secret to Writing a Crappy but Usable First Draft.

First Idea, Best Idea?

You keep using “Write what you know”.

This week in Words

The Dictionary Folk at Merriam-Webster Sum Up 2016: Surreal.

This Week in History

The History You Know Is Wrong – our collective understanding of what happened during the so-called “July Crisis” of 1914 that started WWI is basically wrong.

This Week in Tech

Barnes & Noble’s New $50 Nook Tablet Ships with Bonus Malware. Not just any malware: “the most complete rootkit/malware/spyware packages on the planet”

We’re Getting Rid of Comments on VICE.com.

Culture War and Hate Crimes

Black Santa Claus Is A Hit At Mall Of America, But Faces An Online Backlash

Jewish family leaves Lancaster County in fear after being blamed for cancellation of Hempfield elementary Christmas play.

Sex Shop Owner Receives Threats After Putting “Dildo Nativity Scene” in Window.

Did Southern Baptist and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminaries Replicate a Hotel California at Heritage? Bible Chapel in Princeton, MA?

After One Woman’s Parents Voted for Donald Trump, She’s Holding Their Pastor Accountable.

Anti-LGBT activists are boycotting 58 different retailers for being gay-inclusive.

Texas Just Topped Itself With Pure Misogynistic, Transphobic Insanity.

This week in Difficult to Classify

LESBIAN TEENS ‘ARRESTED FOR KISSING’ ACQUITTED IN MOROCCAN COURT.

The movie that doesn’t exist and the Redditors who think it does.

This Week in Fighting Back in the Culture War:

The Most Useful Guide to Resisting Donald Trump: It’s the Tea Party playbook, minus the nooses.

This week in Politics:

Obama adds to historic number of federal prisoners granted clemency.

It’s official: Clinton swamps Trump in popular vote.

The Stolen Election: Hillary Clinton should be president; why isn’t she?

First Amendment Defense Act Would Be ‘Devastating’ for LGBTQ Americans.

This Week in Racists, White Nationalists, and the deplorables

Can American Fascism Be Stopped?

Trolling in the name of “free speech”: How Milo Yiannopoulos built an empire off violent harassment.

O’Reilly: Left wants ‘power taken away from the white establishment’. You can’t claim it isn’t racist while literally saying you are defending the white establishment.

GOP lawmaker’s Obamacare alternative: Make kids sleep on broken arms to avoid costly ER visits.

Trump’s Pick For OMB Director Has Vowed To ‘End Medicare As We Know It’.

Six Times Bill O’Reilly Defended The “White Establishment” Against “The Left”.

Trump denies Gingrich claim that he’s dropping ‘drain the swamp’.

Trump Insists He’ll ‘Drain the Swamp’ as Gingrich Walks Back ‘Boo Boo’.

This Week in Delusion

Catholic Exorcist: Here’s How I Know the Difference Between Mental Illness and Demon Possession.

Farewells:

Excerpt from an interview with Ms. Gabor. Don't believe the folks that say she was vapid and only famous for being famous (click to embiggen)

Excerpt from an interview with Ms. Gabor. Don’t believe the folks that say she was vapid and only famous for being famous (click to embiggen)

Zsa Zsa Gabor dead at 99 after reportedly suffering heart attack.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update: gunman stopped without a gun and other news.

Everyone’s heard of Rudolph, everyone knows his story….

Yuletide, gay and otherwise.

It’s the most wonderful production number.

’Zat you, Santa Claus?

Videos!

Hand Jive Jingle, Christmas 2016, Gay Men’s Chorus San Diego:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby (1954):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

The Little Drummer Boy – Pink Martini (a friend who used to detest this song told me that this won him over; and it’s a very different and fun version):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Kay Thompson’s Jingle Bells – The Williams Brothers (a jazzy alternative):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Sleigh Ride – Christmas Charity Single – Out of the Blue:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Queer Thanksgiving

“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)

“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)

Not everyone has family to be thankful for. Or should I say, not every family is thanks-worthy? The video I’m linking below focuses particularly on queer people of color, and I don’t want to detract from that message at all—but many of us pale queers have families of origin that are less than welcoming to the point of toxicity. There are reasons that I have severely limited the amount of contact I have with some branches of the family.

This year we came very close to canceling the Thanksgiving trip, because the anti-Hillary/pro-Trump talk in general seems to have encouraged the most bigoted relatives to go all in on the anti-gay talk on social media. Since the big extended family get-together no longer happens, we don’t usually have to deal with any of the actually toxic family members. Instead we’re left with the odd thoughtless/unintentional comments that slowly make your blood boil. We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with wonderful, supportive friends in Seattle, and the invitations were very tempting, but we’ve decided to give the trip to my Mom’s place another go.

We’ve just arranged the trip so we don’t need to stay all day.

Anyway, I hope that you can have a toxin-free holiday. And we may throw a spontaneous Second Thanksgiving later this weekend if we think we need a brain-rinse!

Queer Thanksgiving:

“The holidays are here — which for most people means lots of food and lots of family. But for many queer and trans people of color, the word “family” means something entirely different.”

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

I’d rather be talking about Tricks and Treats!

Michael as a Social Justice Fighter (click to embiggen).

Michael as a Social Justice Fighter (click to embiggen).

It’s Halloween. We attended our friends’ annual Halloween Party on Saturday. Michael and I had a lot of fun over the last couple months planning and assembling our costumes. I went as a Social Justice Necromancer, “Fighting the patriarchy from beyond the grave.” Michael was a Social Justice Fighter, “We’re looking for a Rogue and a Cleric. Someone told us the party was here?” And many other people were there with fabulous costumes. There were games, a piñata-type activity involving a trebuchet, and lots and lots of puns.

Our plans for this evening are to do the usual handing out of candy while we watch some spooky movies. The movie plans are Young Frankenstein and The Three Stooges in Orbit. I usually pick out three movies, but Michael never stays awake for the third. And at midnight I’m supposed to start NaNoWriMo (even if I can’t stay up very far past midnight, since it is a work night), so we’ll probably stick with just the two. We’ll see. It’s not as if it’s very difficult to pick another movie out of the 970-or-so that my hubby has uploaded into our digital library from our vast disc collection…

Myself as a Social Justice Necromancer. You can't see the purple tassel from from hat, nor that I'm wearing 6-inch platform pumps. The bird was not one of my props, it was a party decoration, but everyone wanted me to pose with it. (Click to embiggen)

Myself as a Social Justice Necromancer. You can’t see the purple tassel from from hat, nor that I’m wearing 6-inch platform pumps. The bird was not one of my props, it was a party decoration, but everyone wanted me to pose with it. (Click to embiggen)

Because of the weirdness happening with our building being sold, we had been asked not to do some of the outdoor decorations that we usually do this time of year. This has had a dampening effect on my mood, so I haven’t even put the plastic light-up jack-o-lanterns in the windows, let alone any other decorations. I need to shake the funk soon–at least before Christmas decorating time!

I hope we get a few more trick-or-treaters than last year. I realize I’ll increase the odds if I manage to get at least some decorations up before sundown. I’m currently planning to slip out of the office early to make sure I’m home before then, so there is still hope. Some years we get a lot, but usually it’s a few handfuls. One of the problems is that a lot of other folks on our street don’t do the candy thing and/or their houses have no decorations so our whole block often looks gloomy and deserted.

Though truthfully, as long as we get more than we did the year a neighbor parked a huge U-Haul truck in front of our place and spent the evening trying to get moved out of their apartment (we got exactly one person – my godchild, who doesn’t live in the neighborhood, but would be brought to our place and to the homes of some relatives of their other godparent who lives nearby).

I love handing out the full size candy bars. And I love seeing kids in costumes. Especially the younger ones who get so, so excited when I kneel down and hold out the bowl packed with big candy bars! As my husband likes to say, “Fun size isn’t!”

Anyway, if you celebrate Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or the Day of the Dead, I hope that it is a great holiday for you. And if you’re feeling a little down, enjoy this clip from the Woodland Park Zoo of an otter and a jack-o-lantern:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

The official name of the holiday is Washington’s Birthday Observance

"When a person did his best, do not scold him for his failure" —George Washington

“When a person did his best, do not scold him for his failure” —George Washington

I know I start to sound like Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory when I say this sort of thing, but the holiday we’re celebrating today is not named “Presidents’ Day,” it is “Washington’s Birthday Observance.” I’ve written before about how the myth that the holiday is President’s Day got started and why it is so persistent. I’ve also written about the reasons why there has never been a federal holiday dedicated to Lincoln.

But especially because of those racist reasons that have prevented a Federal holiday recognizing Lincoln, I think it’s important to remember that this holiday is not Presidents’ Day, unless you’re in one of the 10 states that have a state holiday this day which is called President’s Day (my state isn’t one of them). Five states still recognize a state holiday for Lincoln (Illinois, California, Connecticut, Missouri, and New York), though schools and state offices often remain open on that day.

And don’t get me started on the fact that because Washington’s Birthday Observance happens on the third Monday of February, George’s actual birthday, February 22, never lands on his Federal holiday. For shame!

Hang your stockings and say your prayers…

The original Saint Nicholas and his modern avatar.

The original Saint Nicholas and his modern avatar.

One of the weirder arguments I ever got into with a friend was over the song Here Comes Santa Claus. For context, this was back when I was still closeted, and I had met this friend while we were both members of an Evangelical touring teen choir. We got together one day to work on a gaming project, and I was playing Christmas music, which meant that every 40 minutes or so I would have to swap cassette tapes (because this was the stone ages, i.e., the early 1980s). About midway through Bing Crosby’s recording of Here Comes Santa Claus my friend stopped talking and got a weird frown. I asked him what was wrong, and he asked me to wait a minute, he was listening.

While Here Comes Santa Claus isn’t particularly my favorite Christmas song, it is fun to sing, and that particular recording has some fun orchestration, so I thought he was just appreciating the song. When it reached the end he said, “Disgusting!” and launched into a tirade about how secularism was destroying Christmas. Also, how could I listen to such blasphemous music?

The lyrics he objected to first were: “Santa knows that we’re God’s children, that makes everything right.” He felt it was telling children they weren’t going to hell just because Santa said so. Which I could understand where he was coming from, but it seemed more than a bit of a stretch. I pointed out that, first, it’s a children’s song, and second it wasn’t really that different than the sentiments expressed in a lot of hymns. Under the theology of the churches we both attended, if you were a born again Christian, then you were one of God’s children, et cetera.

His angry response was that most of the people who heard this song weren’t saved, though. And it would lead children astray. I quoted the lyrics of a few of his favorite christian songs, and pointed out that they weren’t all that different, but it didn’t mollify him. It just got him even more worked up.

He had other issues, such as the part of the song where it told children to pray to Santa. I pointed out it said no such thing, “Hang your stocking and say your prayers” meant to say your usual bedtime prayers, which lots of children in the sorts of churches we attend were expect to say every night.

Then he jumped to the part that pissed him off most: “Let’s give thanks to the lord above, ’cause Santa Claus comes tonight!” He was really upset about the notion of thanking god for Santa, and seemed to think that was the most blasphemous of all. I asked him how it was blasphemous to thank god for good things that happened, and his response was a rather confusing thing about myths and false gods. It just made no sense to me.

I had been thinking it was all pretty funny up until this point, but he was getting livid. And so I pushed back a bit harder than I probably ought. The girl he was dating (who eventually became his wife) was from a family that went to an even more fervent evangelical church than the one I attended. And they were one of those families who said, “Praise the Lord!” all the time. Any time that anything good happened, one would say, “Praise the Lord!” and the others would chime in with various affirmations.

And I do mean anything. Kid gets a decent grade at school? “Praise the Lord!” Bee buzzes around your head when you’re in the garden, but never stings you? “Praise the Lord!” Car starts (any car, one that is brand new and has never shown any signs of trouble)? “Praise the Lord!” Open a can of soda without it spraying all over everything? “Praise the Lord!” Successfully get the lid of the toothpaste back on the first try? “Praise the Lord!”

They were hardly the first family that did that, but it always had seemed a bit over the top. So, I mentioned them, and asked how it was any different than the song suggesting people thank god for the presents they were going to get on Christmas morning. I went further, and quoted Matthew 6:5, “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.” I suggested that his girlfriend’s family—and anyone who was constantly repeating “Praise the Lord!” at every little thing—were being like that: doing it because they wanted people to see them and know how devout they were. So, if he wasn’t objecting to that, he could hardly be justified getting wound up about a children’s Christmas song.

I should point out that I didn’t believe his girlfriend was some egotistical hypocrite. As it happens, I’d known her longer than he had. I’d even dated her, once. She was one of the sweetest people I had ever met. Still is, actually. But he was just so angry at Here Comes Santa Claus that I couldn’t help it. And I did think he was being hypocritical.

The real problem was, I think, that afternoon may have been the first time in his entire life he had heard Here Comes Santa Claus. At least in a setting where he could actually hear all the lyrics. I’d learned some time before that until he joined the touring choir and we started rehearsing our annual Christmas concert that he hadn’t been familiar with really any Christmas songs. His family wasn’t the type to own Christmas albums, or sing carols around the tree, and so on.

Another part was his family had never been religious, at all. He had been raised in a pretty anti-church home, in fact. He’d been converted to Christianity in junior high, after some incidents where he’d gotten into somewhat serious trouble at school. He always seemed to be trying to make up for his supposedly misspent youth. Given that at the time this conversation happened, he was 19 years old, he wasn’t exactly an old man looking back on decades of debauchery, but he could get that crusader’s gleam in his eye sometimes.

I’m sure that he believes that one of the reasons I’m a queer bound for hell now is because I listened to songs such as Here Comes Santa Claus without being offended. Whereas I still can’t wrap my head around how, with all of the pain, suffering, inequality, hunger, and war going on in the world, the things that people like him get most revved up with righteous fury about are Christmas song lyrics or nativity scenes on public property or whether someone says “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.”

As silly as it is, I really think this Christmas carol is a lot closer to the true meaning of Christmas than those war on Christmas screeds:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Blurring patriotism into…

Click to embiggen (quotes.lifehack.org)

Click to embiggen (quotes.lifehack.org)

We had some of my husband’s relatives in town over Memorial Day weekend, and as we were driving somewhere on Memorial Day itself, I mentioned how my Grandmother had insisted on calling it “Decoration Day” her entire life. That she had, in fact, died literally in the middle of putting silk flowers on the grave of my Great-aunt Maud on the Friday before Memorial Day, because to her the holiday had always been about putting flowers on the graves of all of your family members who had passed away, and having a family gathering to celebrate the lives of our loved ones no longer with us. To which my sister-in-law said, “That’s how I grew up celebrating it, too! Sometimes with a picnic at the cemetery.”

It was later that I saw a cartoon that talked about how every even vaguely-patriot holiday seems to be inexorably transformed into Veteran’s Day: so Memorial Day is now Veteran’s Day May, Independence Day is now Veteran’s Day July, Labor Day is sometimes Veteran’s Day September, and the actual Veteran’s Day is now merely Veteran’s Day November.

If Flag Day joins that list I’m going to start slapping people.

I saw that a lot of news sites had posted articles like this one: Why you shouldn’t confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Of course, I thought that maybe the cartoon was going a bit far when it suggested people were confusing Labor Day with Veterans day, until I saw this story: Get it straight: The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day which mentions seeing “thank the troops” events being scheduled on Labor Day.

This lunacy must stop. I know that my own wish to keep the original (and it does predate the declaration of the first memorial day for troops issued by General Logan in 1868 by decades) meaning of the May holiday as a day to commemorate the lives of all of our loved ones who have died is probably a lost battle. But this re-defining of patriotism as supporting the troops (which has itself already very unpatriotically been re-defined as supporting the notion of sending troops to die to further political aims rather than to actually defend the nation), and therefore coopting all other commemorations of our nation’s history and principles into yet another chance to thank the troops, isn’t just annoying, it’s dangerous.

We’re currently in the middle of a war on “terror” which is being used by government officials of both parties to trample all over our civil rights and the Constitution itself. The vast transfer of completely inappropriate military hardware to police departments is a direct result of this ill-conceived and poorly-defined war. A war which is not being waged against an actual threat, but merely the idea of possible threats. And the escalating violence by police against the citizens they are supposed to protect is enabled and excused because of a myth we’ve been sold that these are people risking their lives to protect us, therefore we must support the cops, because not doing so would be the same as not supporting the troops, and we already know that all patriots always support the troops.

And let’s not forget the actual men and women in uniform who were sent to Iraq because of lies (which Bush administration officials are finally admitting they were intentional lies), far too many of whom have come home wounded, maimed, and otherwise in need of care which our congresscritters seem unwilling to pay for. I’m still one of those weirdos who thinks that the first step in supporting the troops is not to vote for politicians who authorized military action when it isn’t needed, and not to vote for those who don’t adequately fund veterans’ hospitals, et cetera.

We don’t have the funds to pay returning veterans a living wage or get them proper medical care, but we do have money to pay for things like this: US Defense Department paid 14 NFL teams $5.4M to honor soldiers. The NFL didn’t give free tickets to those soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines. Each of those tickets was paid for by your tax dollars! And the tickets are a fraction of the amount paid to the league. But the money is well spent, according to the folks who approved the contracts, because it’s a great recruiting tool.

So we are paying a very successful business millions of tax dollars to pretend to be patriotic in order to distract us from asking questions about why those troops are being sent into harm’s way and to lure more people into volunteering to be sent into harm’s way. You can’t get more capitalist or cynical than that!

Let’s stop blurring the lines between the holidays. Let’s stop blurring the lines between supporting the troops and supporting the politicians and industries that profit from exploiting the troops. Let’s stop blurring patriotism into cynicism—while we still can!

That’s not the name of the holiday

usafederalholidays.com

usafederalholidays.com

I’ve written before about the fact that President’s Day is a myth, the official name of the holiday is Washington’s Birthday Observance. Click the link to read about the history of the holiday, the few states that do observe a holiday called President’s Day (though some observe it in completely different months), and so on. Today, I want to talk a little bit about why there has never been a Federal holiday honoring Lincoln’s birthday, and how that contributes to people thinking that today’s holiday is about anyone other than Washington… Read More…

In contempt

RichardWagnerQuoteA friend recently posed a question online about how many of his friends and acquaintances who read that blog enjoyed the holidays. I first responded with a simple, “Do I really need to answer this?” because I figured that he knows me well enough to know how crazy I go with Christmas decorations and such.

I saw only a couple of other replies before one mutual acquaintance posted that he doesn’t like holidays, and has often wondered if the “joyful people” are brain-damaged or perhaps have butlers to handle all the stressful tasks.

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