There should be some kind of test people need to pass before becoming a parent. I’m not saying this because I think other people are unqualified. Today, I’m shining the spotlight right on myself.
I’ve matured a lot since my college years. In those days I used to fantasize about having kids and teaching them different names for the colors in the world. What would happen if a kid went through his early developmental period thinking the sky was yellow, grass was purple, and the sun was blue? I had no idea, but I thought it would be fun to figure out.
Still, I’ve done a bunch of questionable things. The lullabies I sang them as infants were all dark Bob Dylan songs, like Desolation Row and Gates of Eden. I’ve taught them each The Aristocrats once they turned three. And I’ve never shied away from explaining to them that meat comes from animals.
There’s also a fair bit of playful teasing. One ongoing trope is that the only animals we might consider keeping in the house are the ones we might eat. Mostly, this is to avoid the specter of pets. I’ve never really been into pets. So this has been a surprisingly effective strategy.
With that background in mind, I want to tell you the story of the butterflies.
December. Thirty one more days, and then we can put 2016 to bed. Can I tell you how upside down the world is right now? I was flipping through the AM radio dial yesterday and I hear a few minutes of Glenn Beck, and he sounded surprisingly sensible.
But nothing is going right. It’s crazy warm. There’s a tree outside by the school bus stop that thinks it’s spring. After dropping its leaves for the winter, now it is growing buds. That can’t be a good sign.
And me? I’m actually chomping at the bit waiting for the weather to get truly cold. That doesn’t make sense either, but it’s all about cooking.
All I want for Christmas is peace on Earth and good will towards our fellow human beings. But I’m not sure that’s possible, and if it is possible, it’s not coming anytime soon. Part of the problem is that a lot of people want a lot more stuff. And more stuff comes at a cost.
Here’s the funny thing. I don’t want anything. I don’t.
My birthday is coming up, and I don’t want a single thing. I don’t want kitchen tools. I don’t want electronics. I don’t want books. I don’t want music. My liquor cabinet is full. There’s no room for special wine. Gift cards are a burden. Cash finds a way to just disappear into the ether.
If you are present shopping for a bunch of people, I’m probably the worst person to be on your list. Fortunately, I’m not on many people’s list, because I don’t typically give presents either.
Really, more than anything else, I want a few more hours of sleep. And time can’t be bought.
That said, I’m a realist. And right now people are out and about buying presents for themselves and others. This is the annual consumer purchasing frenzy. So who am I not to offer advice to people on what to buy for their friends and loved ones who are into food and such.
Here’s a little secret. I’m (((Jewish))). Shh.
That probably would have been hard to tell, given all my posts about the Jewish Food Festival, those mournful posts about missing bread on Passover, and those whiny posts about having to fast on Yom Kippur. And then there’s all the stuff about Shabbat every Friday and our family’s tradition of having roast chicken and challah.
My point in telling you that today actually has nothing to do with politics or the rising tide of anti-semitism. It’s really just to call attention to my implicit biases. We all have them. One of these days I’ll actually take the test.
It’s true, I have a certain affection for my culture. Which isn’t to say I love all of it. While I like Jewish humor, I’ve never really understood the appeal of Jackie Mason. Old Jews Telling Jokes, on the other hand, is fantastic.
What does any of this have to do with food? Good question. It doesn’t. What it has to do with is a local brewery with a national footprint. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s called Shmaltz.
What happens to blogs on Cyber Monday? More people online, but is all the increased traffic solely dedicated to the pursuit of enhanced consumerism? I don’t know.
I do know that the very last thing I want to talk about today is food. It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve been eating like a jerk for about a week now. The holiday meal was pre-gamed with the visit of ADS and his family. We ate our way around the Capital Region for three days. Then we had a splendid feast of the four families down in Westchester. Still full from the night before, I couldn’t resist house made corned beef hash at a diner in Danbury. And there was the big Japanese meal Friday night. Saturday I found a middle eastern restaurant in Milford and ate more than I should. This was followed by another turkey dinner with my extended family. Sunday was a Pepe’s pizza party, and I don’t even want to think about how many slices I consumed during that feast.
That list doesn’t include any of the free hotel breakfasts over the course of our travels, the cheese plate my cousin assembled, and a host of other snacks and treats.
Today, I’m full from the accumulated excess of a week. So instead of writing about food today, I’m going to share a link where you can hear me speaking about food.
Hopefully you all had a great Thanksgiving. I hope your Thanksgiving involved food, friends, and family. Count me among the many who are appalled that Black Friday sales have crossed the midnight line of demarkation, and now begin on Thursday. It’s a travesty.
If we are going to make America great again, might I suggest rolling Black Friday back to Friday. And really, today should go by its other name: Buy Nothing Day.
It’s not as if I’m anti-capitalist. I’m not. For the most part, I am very thankful for international trade, industrial manufacturing, and big businesses. But these forces do need to be kept in check. One reason to limit the influence of big business, has to do with the importance of small business.
Saturday is Small Business Saturday, but I shop at small local businesses all the time. Just the other day I was in Troy at Collar City Sweets buying treats for my Thanksgiving hosts. These took the form of sponge candy from Buffalo, NY and turkey joints from Rome, NY.
Today, I’m going to share some more small business news with you. Mostly, because the businesses asked. But also because I think it’s a good thing to do.
All this has been posted before, and all this will be posted again.
Today is a day for giving thanks. As screwed up as the world may be, there are always things for which to be thankful. Some years we may have to dig deeper to find them, but they exist.
One thing I’m perpetually thankful for is this holiday tradition of mine. Really, I’m big into traditions in general. But every Thanksgiving, I make sure to watch one particular video on YouTube. And every Thanksgiving, I write a post encouraging others to watch it too. Some people might be watching it for the very first time. Others might have made it a holiday tradition of their own sometime over the past fifty years, because it all started about fifty Thanksgivings ago.
Regardless of how screwed up the world may be, I am thankful for the optimism that exists at the heart of this song. So hopefully you can get away from your family for eighteen minutes, or maybe you can have them gather around the computer to watch with you.
Who knows, you may find yourself starting a new Thanksgiving tradition. Mine is torturing Young Master Fussy with these words of an aging hippy. Perhaps when he’s older, he’ll understand.
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy the song and have a wonderful holiday.