Christmas is coming. I know this not because of the weather, which is still balmy, nor the date. I know it because yesterday I saw the county prisoners putting up Christmas decorations in the town square.
I love Thanksgiving. It’s the one holiday the retail economy has not been able to capture. There is something authentic about a holiday that doesn’t require us to buy anything, but just invites us to gather our loved ones around a dinner table and be grateful. I am thankful for the annual opportunity to take stock and give expression to my gratitude.
The orange Halloween lights went up early this year. And in our neighborhood, there seemed to be a lot more of them—along with tiny ghost dolls hanging from trees, cobweb-like fabric stretched across porches, plastic spiders perched on roofs, and bloody plastic hands emerging from cardboard gravestones.
Ever since I was a child, my mother has observed the season of Christmas in the same way. Some time around Thanksgiving she begins shaking her head, looking disgusted and sighing, “Oh Lordy, Lordy; it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t done a thing!” Then come four intense weeks of shopping, baking and Christmas card writing.
When we Marty kids were in grade school, we entered any contest that pointed toward a prize. During those Great Depression years, we would have experienced great elation if we’d won even a bauble. But not then nor in any subsequent years of my life have I won a contest.
Calculus and chemistry are among the pressures awaiting Mesuka Akter, a senior at Long Island City High School in New York City. But unlike in past school years, this year Akter, a Muslim, will not have to choose between missing school and missing the two holiest days on the Islamic calendar.
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