SubscribeStar Saturday: Thanksgiving Weekend

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It’s been a wonderful Thanksgiving Break for yours portly, full of two of the most important things in life:  family and food.  Indeed, there’s probably been too much of the latter.  The “portly” in this blog’s title is more than just a humorous pun, after all.

This weekend is a big deal for Americans.  It’s the gateway to Christmas, and it’s the first major of holiday of what Americans broadly call “the holiday season” (or “the Christmas season,” as we Christians prefer).  There’s a flurry of social and commercial activities this time of year, but it’s also a time for slowing down.  From Thanksgiving through New Years’, the entire country feels like after lunch on a Friday at a government bureau—no one is answering the phones, because everyone’s taken off for the weekend.

In the spirit of celebrating this slower, more reflective, more generous time of year, here is a rundown of my long Thanksgiving Weekend.

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Red-Pilled Bible Study

Last night I attended a men’s monthly Bible study at a church in Lamar.  My neighbors had been inviting me for a couple of months, but when that mythical third Monday would roll around, I’d always have some outstanding obligation (mainly rehearsal for the Spooktacular).  Since I’m running for Town Council again in January, I figured it would be good to feed my soul and my political ambitions simultaneously (they also brought sub sandwiches, so I was pretty well-fed holistically by the time I left).

The evening was spiritually, culturally, and politically encouraging.  These men were fired up for Jesus, our country, and Trump, in that order.  After everybody caught up a bit and after some introductions (I was the new guy at the meeting), the conversation gradually turned to politics, starting (I believe) with the necessity for a border wall, and Biden’s hare-brained pledge to tear it down.

From there, it was a free-ranging discussion, including vigorous airings of grievances; laments for the state of our nation; pledges to resist excessive government mandates; and repeated admonitions to trust in God.  Our Scripture reading was Psalm 138.  The Psalm is a reminder that God is in control, and will support us in our hour of need.  Here’s verse 7, from the New King James Version:

7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.

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Lazy Sunday LXIII: Holidays

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, which means no one is reading self-indulgent posts on third-rate blogs.  While a good chunk of the country is still shut down, lots of the the sensible parts are opening up again.  People aren’t going to let The Virus ruin the official opening weekend of summer.

Since it’s a fun holiday weekend, let’s look back at some holiday-themed posts (note—instead of posting these in chronological order by publication date, I’m placing them in order based on when the calendar would appear in a calendar year):

  • Phone it in Friday VI: Valentine’s Day” – I didn’t write very much about love or romance in this post, though I was “dreaming of Tulsi Gabbard donning a MAGA hat.”  I also linked to photog’s blog post about matchmaking, which features a detailed rundown of the horrors of modern dating in the comments.
  • He is Risen!” (and “TBT: He is Risen!“) – A short post about Easter, the most important date on the Christian calendar (with Christmas a close second).  The original post details some of the sobering statistics about religion in decline, but it was heartening to see that 2/3rds of Americans in 2019 believed that Jesus rose from the dead.
  • Happy Halloween!” – Big surprise—I love Halloween.  This post details why, and includes pictures of my jaunty l’il Jack O’Lantern.
  • Thanksgiving Week!” – There sure are a lot of exclamation points in these titles.  This post isn’t about Thanksgiving, per se, but more about the nature of the school calendar that ceded the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as another day to the holiday.  I also offer up some reflections on the limits of logic, especially of following ideas to their absurd conclusions.  Practicality plays a role on putting the brakes on some ideas.
  • Christmas and its Symbols” – This post features lots of French horns, as well as a Daily Encouraging Word devotional about the symbolism of Christmas.  I go after atheists, too, which is always fun.

Enjoy barbecuing and being normal again with your friends and family this weekend!  ‘Tis the season.

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday LI: Just for Fun

I got back from my trip to Universal Studios just a few hours ago, so I’m slamming out this week’s Lazy Sunday before midnight so as to appease the WordPress Counter.  In the spirit of the fun-filled trip, here are some fun blog posts:

  • Happy Halloween” – Boy, I sure do love Halloween.  It’s even more exciting that it will fall on a Saturday this year.  What’s more fun than carving pumpkins, dressing up in weird outfits, and eating lots of candy?
  • The Joy of Autumn” – Speaking of Halloween, the whole autumnal feel—sweaters, crisp cool nights, college football, staying indoors—is inspiring and reassuring.  I find the coolness intellectually enlivening, and it’s a welcome break from South Carolina’s oppressive summers.  It’s still hot on Halloween here most years (and, I have found, oppressively muggy), but it’s not too far from the crisp cool nights.
  • Joy to the World” – One of several posts I wrote about Christmas carols, “Joy to the World” is one of my favorite Christmas tunes.  One plan for this summer is to expand my Christmas carol posts into a short eBook, hopefully to be available this fall.
  • Dawn of a Decade” – On the subject of long-term plans, this post kicked off 2020, spelling out my plans for the blog.  Talk about a rapidly-advancing year!  It’s already March 1st, and the year continues to zip along.

Well, that’s it for a hasty installment of Lazy Sunday.  Here’s hoping you have a fun week!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break

I’m on vacation this week, burning through my precious personal days in order to spend some time in Florida with the family.  Normally, I wouldn’t feature such a recent post for TBT (I try to do posts that are at least six months old), but when going through my archives for vacation-themed posts, this was the closest fit I could find… even if it’s not Thanksgiving.

Regardless, I increasingly believe that workers need time off.  I understand the economics of time off—it’s only possible with a great degree of efficiency and wealth—so I’m not unrealistic about it.  It just seems that people should be able to take off Christmas and a few other key days.  Just as folks will “unplug” from social media for twenty-four hours, shouldn’t we be able to escape work, even for a day?

Speaking of social media, it does seem that cell phones and e-mail have made it impossible to escape work.  I have never worked a job that truly stopped at 5 PM.  That’s likely true for most Americans.  The ability to be connected constantly means that people expect you to be available constantly—there’s never truly a moment that I feel at rest.

Perhaps that’s a person problem, and my pathetic generation is particularly anxious and afraid of a ringing phone, but Lord knows I hate getting a call during my free time, limited as it is.  There’s always the fear that it’s going to be some tedious, work-related issue.  Such issues always seem to pop up right before, or even during, a break.

Oh, well.  I can’t complain—or, at least, I shouldn’t.  Work is a blessing.  But like all good things, you can have too much of it.

With that, here’s “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break“:

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Christmas‘s time—an ever-expanding season that stretches into September—has finally arrived.  Today is Black Friday, the consumerist threshold that formally inaugurates the Christmas (shopping) season.

Black Friday, much like the holiday season it ushers in, has slowly stretched beyond its one-day window.  First, the expansion went into Small Business Saturday, then Cyber Monday.  Next came Giving Tuesday—a bit of charitable giving to close out the mad dash for savings.  Once you’ve spent all of your money in big box stores on Friday, at the dying mom and pop joint in your town, and everything else on Amazon on Monday, whatever is left goes to the United Way.

Now Black Friday even bleeds into Thanksgiving Day itself.  Doorbuster sales with lines forming up at 2 AM on Black Friday is spectacle enough; now, stores opening Thanksgiving afternoon or evening try to squeeze more revenue from zealous shoppers.

As a schoolteacher, I’m spoiled:  with the exception of two years of my life, I’ve been involved in education in some way, which means I’ve always gotten a glorious Thanksgiving holiday.  It rankles me, though, when service folks are denied even one day to relax and spend with their families (until I need to buy something at 8 PM on a Thursday, and that Thursday turns out to be Thanksgiving).

“They should get a better job, Portly.”  Okay, sure, a perk of teaching, for example, is all the crazy days off; a perk of a professional job is to vacation or flex-time.  Federal employees have to work on Black Friday, but they get every second- and third-tier holiday on the calendar as a paid vacation day, so I don’t feel much sympathy for them (plus, they work for the federal government).

But even taco jockeys and the weird, pushy old gay sales clerk at Macy’s need a day off to spend with their families (or, in the case of the weird old gay guy at Macy’s—an actual person I have in mind—his little lapdog, Snickers—that part is pure speculation on my part).  There will always be those who want to work on Thanksgiving for that sweet golden time, of course, but wouldn’t it be worth it to shut everything down for a day or two?

Yes, if you work in retail, you’re going to work Black Friday.  All the more reason—before clocking in for a twelve-plus-hour shift—to have the day of Thanksgiving completely off.  Gotta have time to sleep off that turkey and dressing, at the very least.

Christmas is another one where I often forget—cozy in my cosseted bubble of quasi-academia—that most people work the day before and/or after Christmas.  The idea of working the day after Christmas seems like a death sentence, but that’s not as bad as working on Christmas itself.  Whatever Ebeneezer Scrooge is forcing his employees to work on Christmas Day should probably be imprisoned.

The folks in Medieval Europe had the right idea—dozens of feast days to celebrate this or that minor saint or hero.  They probably went too far in the other direction, going overboard with merriment.  I’m sure there’s a happy medium.

Today, we modern Americans work our fingers to the bone.  That’s one reason we’re great, and I’m a firm believer in hard work.  All the more reason, then, to take a day or two during this time of year to slow down and relax a bit.  We hustle and bustle through the Christmas season with such rapidity and motion, we don’t take the time to savor it.

Shutting down everything but essential services—God Bless police officers and emergency medical personnel for being there on Christmas and Thanksgiving—would be an admirable goal for at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as Thanksgiving.  Open your store up at 12:00 AM on Black Friday if you want, but don’t make your employees come in until right at that moment.

These are just some stream-of-consciousness thoughts I’ve had as I’m wrestling with questions about the proper balance between work and life.  But hard workers could use a little downtime with their families during the Christmas season.

Lazy Sunday XLIII: Music, Part II – More Music

Well, it had to come at some point—the end to my glorious Christmas Break.  Sure, sure, summer break is great, but two weeks off at Christmas is just the right amount of time to recharge the batteries.  Plus, it’s not 100 degrees outside, and we get to celebrate the Birth of Jesus!

I wrote a great deal about music in the last quarter of 2019, and I’m kicking off 2020 focused intensely on the performing arts:  I’m going to be in a play this weekend.  That personal detail is somewhat important for the blog, as after today my focus (other than work during the day) will be almost entirely on that production.  As such, posts may be shorter than usual, or a bit delayed in getting up.

Regardless, in keeping with the fine arts, I thought I’d feature three recent pieces I wrote about music.  Enjoy!

  • Milo on Romantic Music” – Readers are probably exhausted of reading about this post, but Milo’s analysis of Romantic music, while certainly contentious, is fascinating.  He might play the role of a melodramatic, catty queen online, but he possesses deep erudition on a variety of topics.  This post was one of “2019’s Top Five Posts” thanks to Milo’s sharing of it.
  • A Little Derb’ll Do Ya: Haydn’s ‘Derbyshire Marches’” – Saturday mornings just aren’t the same with Radio Derb‘s opening music, Haydn’s “Derbyshire March No. 2.”  Nothing makes you feel more sophisticated about pouring coffee in your underwear than the strains of Haydn’s jaunty little march.
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting” – This morning I’ll finally be back to my little Free Will Baptist Church to play piano.  I’m also struggling to remember a huge amount of naturalistic dialogue for the aforementioned play.  The juxtaposition of returning to church piano playing and the pressure of conjuring up untold mental energies in a short span of time made this post a logical choice.  The music for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was composed in great haste, and completed mere hours before it was performed.  My instincts (and experience) tell me that the play will, much to the director’s chagrin, unfold the same way—incompetence giving way to brilliance the night of the show.

Well, there you have it!  Happy New Year to one and all.  Back to work!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday XLII: 2019’s Top Five Posts

2019 is winding down, and with this being the last Sunday of the year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to look back at the most popular posts of 2019.

These posts aren’t necessarily the best posts—although that’s an entirely subjective measure—just the ones that received the most hits.

When looking through the most popular posts, there were a few surprises.  One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that posts I pour my heart and soul into may walk away with five views (and, oftentimes, only one!).  Then other posts that I dash off in a hurry to make my self-imposed daily goal take off like Rossini rockets, garnering dozens of hits.

Some of that is timing and promotion.  I find that the posts I have ready to launch at 6:30 AM do better on average.  But some generous linkbacks from WhatFinger.com really created some surprises here at the end of the year, surpassing even the exposure I received from Milo Yiannopoulos.  Writing posts about hot, current news items, the dropping links about said items in the comment sections of prominent news sites, also helps drive traffic, but I often lack the time required to do such “planting” (and it is a practice that can come across as spammy if not done with finesse).

Some posts take on a life of their own; I see consistent daily traffic from one of the posts on this list, “Tom Steyer’s Belt.”  Apparently, a bunch of people are as mystified as I am with Steyer’s goofy, virtue-signalling belt.

Well, it’s certainly been an adventure.  And while it may be premature—there are still two days left in the year!—here are the Top Five Posts of 2019:

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God Bless Us, Every One: The Gift of the Trump Economy

Christmas Week is always full of blessings.  Thanks to the good folks at pro-MAGA news aggregator Whatfinger News (and a helpful tip from photog of Orion’s Cold Fire on how to submit links to them), The Portly Politico has seen its best week in terms of traffic all year.  Two pieces, “Napoleonic Christmas” and “Christmas and its Symbols” made the main page, leading both to surpass my previous top post for the year, “Milo on Romantic Music.”  Apparently, people still get riled up about Napoleon.

It’s also been a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and to overeat lots of delicious, rich foods.  If you’ve never heard of the Appalachian delicacy “chocolate butter,” do yourself a favor and look it up.  Yes, it’s even better than the name suggests.

Of course, all of that good cheer requires a solid financial foundation.  And in his three years in office, President Trump has shattered records for unemployment, wage increases, and economic growth.  Economics isn’t everything, but the Trump economy is something for which we should give thanks.

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TBT: Reblog: Who doesn’t like Christmas? — Esther’s Petition

It’s been a wonderful Christmas season (especially after getting through the stress of staging a fun-filled school Christmas concert).  The day after Christmas—Boxing Day in Canada—is always a joyous day, as we head out to hit the after-Christmas sales and enjoy a little downtime (for those folks that have to work today, my thoughts are with you; if you’re in a certain kind of office job, though, it’s one of those gloriously still days, with nary a phone call for the duration of a shift).

Last Christmas, my real-life blogger friend Bette Cox re-posted one of her own poignant pieces, “Who doesn’t like Christmas?”  I’m one of those fortunate souls for whom Christmas doesn’t carry too heavily the memory of lost loved ones (other than my two wonderful paternal grandparents).  One of my great trepidations in life is that this season of mostly unmitigated Christmas cheer will not endure forever.

But the hands of time tick on—all the more reason to honor our ancestors in our Christmas observances.  As such, I thought it would be apropos to revisit Bette’s post—a reblog of a reblog.

Merry Christmas, and please spare a thought and some prayers for those struggling with loss this Christmas season.

—TPP

A poignant piece from Esther’s Petition, an excellent blog about faith.  It’s been a tough Christmas season for some friends of mine, with death and heartbreak hovering around and darkening the usual brightness of this season.  Ms. Cox writes beautifully—wrenchingly—about how the holidays can be difficult, and how we should strive to be understanding of that difficulty.  –TPP

This is a re-post from November 2010… still appropriate for many people, I think. That rhetorical question from a movie blurb has played over and over in the last week – Christmas movies have arrived on cable TV. But it’s not rhetorical for me. The answer is, “Me.” Christmas used to be a happy time […]

via Who doesn’t like Christmas? — Esther’s Petition