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.
I’m embracing the lazy logic of Thanksgiving Break with more throwback posts than usual this week. After Christmas Break, this little Thanksgiving reprieve is my favorite short break of the year. It combines family, fun, and food, with enough time to enjoy all three.
Last year when I wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break,” I was growing increasingly burned out and fatigued from my job and my various obligations. Between work, music lessons, and various ensembles, I wasn’t getting home most nights until 9 or even 10 PM. That clearly showed up in my argument here for giving workers the day of Thanksgiving—and at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—off from their toils.
That said, I still believe it. What’s humorous to me, in re-reading this post after a year of lockdowns and shutdowns, is that my call for “[s]hutting down everything but essential services… would be an admirable goal for at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as Thanksgiving” came to pass—with deleterious effect—for not three measly days but for months on end. That’s certainly not what I had in mind, but I think workers have had all the breaks they can stand this past year.
Still, in normal times, having a couple of days for Christmas and a day or two for Thanksgiving isn’t going to tank the global economy. Workers could use the break, and the reminder that all that hard work is in service to something greater: family, faith, and God.
I love hard work—indeed, I think it’s one of the keys to happiness and purpose, particularly for men—but there’s hard work, and there’s exhausting yourself for a pittance. Let’s reward the former with some downtime.
Another year has passed, and another Thanksgiving has rolled around. In the tradition of this blog going back to 2017, I’m throwing back to past Thanksgiving Day posts. I’ll alternate between italicized and non-italicized posts so readers can see the layers of commentary and annual updates.
In re-reading “TBT^2: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle,” it’s interesting to reflect on the contrast between 2019 and 2020. Yes, 2020 has been a rough year universally, but it’s personally been one of my better years. The Virus really took its toll financially, especially on my private music lessons and gigging empire, but both of those are recovering as folks mellow out about The Virus and the holidays approach. I’m back to six students now, and have been blessed with some truly God-sent bookings recently.
The Virus brought a silver lining: it forced me to slow down. All the shutdowns made me do what I would have been loathe to do voluntarily—give up various extracurricular activities and side gigs. For the first time in probably seven years, I took the summer off, other than my History of Conservative Thought course and one intrepid piano student (and three days of painting for the school, because they were desperate). I reluctantly got on some extremely mild anxiety medication, and now I love the stuff—I’m not fretting over insignificant things anymore.
I enjoyed distance learning, too, though I am glad to be back with students (most days). It provided the opportunity to laser-focus on my teaching, without all the extra little duties and responsibilities that normally come with teaching generally and my position specifically. I missed putting on a big Spring Concert, but I didn’t miss the stress, the lack of institutional support, and the hours and hours of unwinding and connecting XLR cables.
It’s back again—Thanksgiving Week! For many of us—especially those of us in the cushy racket known as “education”—it’s scarcely a week at all, just two days of relaxed, stately learning before five straight days of loafing and turkey-filled indolence.
I’m kicking off the laziness early with a throwback post to last year’s Thanksgiving Week—a post entitled, appropriately, “Thanksgiving Week!” It’s a post that celebrates the insanely short week—and opines for it to become scarcely a workweek at all. I also delved into a discussion about slippery slopes—my favorite logical fallacy that often becomes true—and the necessity for a ten-year moratorium on immigration.
I’ll likely be doing more throwback posts this week as I indulge in some family time and gluttony, but I’ll keep trying to provide top-level italicized commentary for your amusement. Also, we’re just a few days away from 700 days—that’s 100 weeks!—of consecutive posts.
In all seriousness, there is much to be thankful for this year. Even in 2020, a number that has taken on a reputation only slightly less horrifying than the Mark of the Beast, there is much God has done for us. A promising vaccine for The Virus—produced in what must be record time for a vaccine—is surely one such thing for which we should give thanks.
Turn to God in times of trouble, not just when things are going well. Easy to type, hard to live. We’d be all better off, though, if we made the effort to adopt gratitude as our default position.
We’re just one week from Thanksgiving. I’m thankful to live in a State with enough commonsense and decency not to attempt to trample our right to gather with our loved ones on such an important day. There may be a good bit of uncertainty about the future, but at least we can get together and enjoy some time together (and some turkey, of course).
Last year at this time I had five subscribers and a piddling thirty-five posts. As of the time of this writing, I have 144 posts on the page (which will hopefully be 145 by the time you read this TBT, as I owe subscribers for this past Saturday) and eight subscribers. That includes fifty-three installments of Sunday Doodles, which only $5 subscribers get. The rest are Saturday posts, with a few Five Dollar Friday posts tossed in for you big spenders.
I would love to get that subscriber count into double digits by Christmas. If you’ve been hesitating for any reason, or said, “Oh, I need to do that when I have a minute,” make that minute now. Grab your credit card and swipe that sucker (you actually have to type in the number) and make it happen! Then you, too, can enjoy a bottomless back catalog of my portly musings.
Last night was my second annual Halloween Spooktacular. I hosted a concert from my front porch, with attendees sitting on the front lawn. I had some t-shirts made up, which I sold for $20 each, and my brother grilled hot dogs. My girlfriend made a bunch of Halloween-themed baked goods, and I had a couple of opening acts.
House concerts have long been a popular option for independent musicians, but those are typically indoor performances at someone else’s house. I took that idea and flipped it to an outdoor format.
In this post, I want to break down some of the numbers to see how it all worked out. As of this moment—after paying for expenses, paying musicians, and the rest—the whole shindig cost me a little less than $20 (I’ll end up in the black after selling another couple of t-shirts). Essentially, I threw a very well-attended Halloween party nearly at cost.
The rest of today’s post will be posted to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page tomorrow. I’m playing a gig for a private party this evening and have to get ready to head that way.
We’re a mere day away from Halloween. All the build-up and fun are reaching their culmination. Indeed, I’ll be playing a fortieth birthday party tomorrow—a last-minute booking that will make it a very lucrative Halloween for yours portly.
Regular readers will know that I love Halloween. Indeed, I use the entire month of October as an excuse to revel in the fun of the season (instead of covering the election, the point of a blog ostensibly dedicated to commenting upon and analyzing politics).
So I thought this Sunday—the Sunday before All Hallows’ Eve—would be the perfect opportunity to look back at some spooky Halloween hijinks:
“Halloween Week!” – This short post was one of my many paeans to Halloween. It details South Carolina’s unfortunately hot and humid Halloweens—quite different from the crisp, autumnal Halloweens popular depictions of the holiday always portray. I’m praying for a chill in the air this year!
“On Ghost Stories” & “TBT: On Ghost Stories” – This post briefly discusses the importance of ghost stories, and why they’re so delightfully fun. Victorians used to read ghost stories around Christmas, so I’m thinking we should just dedicate the last three months of the year to reading them.
“Happy Halloween!” – THE post on Halloween! I showed off some pictures of the pumpkin I carved (the featured image for this post). As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m going to do this year’s carvings, so I’d better wrap it up!
“Monsters” – … right after one more post. This little piece looked at some previews of essays about monsters and the monstrous. I also discuss the possibility of cryptids (like Bigfoot), and why God’s Creation is so limitless and interesting, it’s entirely possible such creatures could exist.
That’s it. Now get your costumes, grab some spooky stories and movies, and get ready for HALLOWEEN!