- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

“The first thing we can thank God for this Thanksgiving is that we Americans still have Thanksgiving. This holiday, so bound up with our history and our traditions, is in danger. Most department stores have long since put up their Christmas — correction, holiday — decorations and filled the air with ‘Yuletide’ carols,” declares Bob Morrison, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council.

“With more and more national retail chains opening for business on Thanksgiving, we have to ask: Will Thanksgiving Day give way to ‘Black Thursday’ in years to come? Will it be no more than the kickoff for the season of year-end bargain-hunting? Will an unrelenting materialism drive out any time for home and hearth?”

THANKSGIVING ANSWER OF THE DAY

Indeed, there is much commercial hubbub surrounding the phenomenon that major stores will open Thursday. But a large number of Americans — convinced that a convivial table and family fellowship bests the bargains — “appear turned off by the idea,” says a new Rasmussen poll.

The new survey of 1,000 adults finds that just 8 percent admit “they are more likely to shop at a store that opens on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on Black Friday deals.”

There is some pushback as well. Compromising family time with blockbuster sales may come with a price: 44 percent of the respondents also say they are “less likely to shop at a store that opens on the holiday,” while another 44 percent say that the new retail practice has no effect on them.

FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE

“This Thanksgiving Day, let us forge deeper connections with our loved ones. Let us extend our gratitude and our compassion. And let us lift each other up and recognize, in the oldest spirit of this tradition, that we rise or fall as one nation, under God,” President Obama advises in his Thanksgiving Day proclamation.

And from the Republican weekly address, delivered this week by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: “Our American soldiers serve as some of the best ambassadors the United States could ever hope for. They are tough and determined, yet equally kind and compassionate. On this Thanksgiving, I want to express all of our appreciation — Republican, Democrat, independent — for the service of our men and women in uniform and their families.

“To the military spouse, who has to be both mom and dad, God bless. To the children of our military members, who have missed holidays and birthdays, God bless you. It is because of the bravery of our troops, and their willingness to endure tremendous hardships that we are able to be at home with our families this holiday season.”

THANKSGIVING FOR A STRONG AMERICA

A historical moment to ponder: a message to Americans on Thanksgiving Day 1944, from Winston Churchill, meant for the “bold, the loyal, the warm-hearted,” and those “in bivouacs and dugouts, on battlefields, on the high seas and in the highest air.” The prime minister made his remarks during a Thanksgiving dinner at Royal Albert Hall in London on Nov. 23, 1944.

“Always, this annual festival has been dear to the hearts of the American people. Always it has been that desire for Thanksgiving — and never I think, has there been more justification, more compulsive need for it, than now. It is your day of Thanksgiving,” Churchill said.

“When we feel the truth of the facts which are before us — that in three or four years the peaceful, peace-loving people of the United States, with all the variety and freedom of their life — in such contrast to the iron discipline which has governed many other communities,” Churchill began, then paused.

“When we see that in three or four years, the United States has in sober fact become the greatest military naval and air power in the world, that, I say to you, in this time of the world, is in itself, a subject for profound thanksgiving,” Churchill concluded, to thunderous applause.

AND ONE FROM MR. REAGAN

“I have always believed that this anointed land was set apart in an uncommon way, that a divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love of faith and freedom. Our pioneers asked that He would work His will in our daily lives so America would be a land of morality, fairness, and freedom.”

— from Ronald Reagan’s Thanksgiving proclamation, Nov. 25, 1982.

MENUS OF NOTE

Aboard the International Space Station — for six American, Japanese and Russian astronauts in orbit 260 miles above Earth — according to NASA:

“Irradiated smoked turkey with NASA’s own cornbread dressing, thermostabilized yams, rehydrated green beans, rehydrated home-style potatoes, cranberries, cherry-blueberry cobbler and the best view from any Thanksgiving table.”

At Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth, Mass: a 17th-century harvest dinner: “Cheate bread, sweet butter, sallet of herb, mussels seeth’d with parsley and beer, dish of turkey, sauc’d; pottage of cabbage, leeks and onions; sweet pudding of native corn, stewed pompion, chine of pork, roast’d; fricassee of fish, cheesecake with spice and dried fruit, charger of Holland cheese and fruit, ciderkin.” Incidentally, “cheate” is wheat, “pompion” is pumpkin and “chine” is a pork butt cut.

AND IF UNCLE FRED GOES BERSERK TODAY

Family togetherness even at Thanksgiving can be tricky when the topic of national health care comes along. There are best practices afoot, apparently.

“If you’re a liberal and your uncle says something crazy about Obamacare? Do you try to correct him?” Luke O’Neil, an Esquire magazine contributor, asked former Maine senator and diplomatic envoy George Mitchell.

“It depends on the circumstances. Nobody likes to be embarrassed in front of a crowd. If I thought it was really egregiously wrong I would probably wait till later and privately, say ‘I just want to let you know I don’t think what you said is correct.’ There’s no need to upset a whole family dinner by pointing out errors publicly,” Mr. Mitchell replied.

“What if he goes berserk? Mr. O’Neil countered.

“The most important thing is to have patience and perseverance. Don’t respond in kind. If someone who is angry runs into someone who is calm, they tend to calm down. Don’t add any fuel to fire. It’s a little difficult when people have been drinking — so it’ll take a little bit of patience,” Mr. Mitchell said.

He later added, “I think you often can persuade people on a particular issue, despite political difference. It’s the same as conflict resolution. You have to identify what their self-interest is, and figure out a way to accommodate that. That’s the essence of negotiating, understand what the person’s real bottom line is, and try to accommodate it.”

POLL DU JOUR

85 percent of Americans are grateful on Thanksgiving for the health of their family and family relationships.

62 percent are thankful for their personal economic situation and their employment.

43 percent say they are as thankful now as in the past; 38 percent say they have more to be thankful for.

40 percent look forward to the turkey at dinner the most;21 percent cite stuffing, 13 percent pumpkin pie, 9 percent mashed potatoes, 4 percent cranberry sauce.

20 percent would rather eat at a restaurant than cook Thanksgiving dinner.

17 percent are thankful for the U.S. economic situation.

14 percent say they have less to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,368 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 16 to 21 and released Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for reading Inside the Beltway.