Skip to comments.Joe Soucheray: In all this bounty, it's possible to lose sight of some things
Posted on 11/21/2012 1:35:11 PM PST by rhema
Probably what will happen next -- if, in fact, it is not already happening -- is that stores will serve their customers a complete Thanksgiving meal. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs could set up a lounge with flat-screen TVs, and that's where the men can watch football while the women shop. They could occasionally meet back at the table and graze over a dessert buffet before the women head back out into the aisles.
The need to shop early after Thanksgiving is peculiarly American and apparently speaks to the need of getting a deal. Last week, in El Cajon, Calif., women were already camped out at a Best Buy to get a deal on a limited number of televisions the store was offering at a discounted price. The women were asked to leave, as it appeared unseemly to have people camping out a week before Thanksgiving in a store parking lot.
Having watched the latest Ken Burns documentary, on the Dust Bowl years, I do not know what to make of our current selves. In the Dust Bowl years, people starved to death. On the rare chance of rain, they stood outside and touched the falling drops with their outstretched hands, and it was more than enough to give thanks for water to briefly quell the dust.
This kind of thinking -- this longing to be thankful for something truly meaningful -- places me in the position of seeming to be hectoring, that I somehow disapprove of such gross consumerism. I don't. That would additionally place me in the camps of the reactionaries and anti-capitalist revolutionaries who urge even schoolchildren to pester their parents to not buy anything.
No, we buy things.
But the poorest among us already have TVs. And it takes a storm of hurricane strength to deprive anybody of even electrical service, and I am afraid, deep in my pondering soul, that we have had it so good for so long that a great sea change could be afoot. We have to be about something more than getting a deal on a smartphone, and we are, we really are; it just doesn't look like it at this time of year.
It is not hyperbole to suggest that children in this country have never been too cold or too hot. We have it drummed into us that children are hungry, but we feed them through a wide variety of agencies and with government help. In the Dust Bowl years, children got lost trying to follow the wire fence to get back to the house in clouds of blown-black dirt. Mothers could not keep nourished enough to nurse a newborn.
And now we clamor for the stores to be open earlier and earlier, thus my dreadful proposition that the stores might as well be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Christmas? Christmas is basically the calm from about 10 p.m. Christmas Eve to 1 a.m. Christmas Day.
I yearn to be a minimalist, which is but a fantasy. Who am I kidding? I am not a minimalist, but you reach a certain age and something clicks, a tumbler turns, some kind of desire to make sense of all this bounty and then sort out what is meaningful about it. The other day it was as simple as sitting outside at noon and eating some grapes, which I thought would be a good title for a piece of writing, "Sitting Outside Eating Grapes."
The sun was warm. The day was quiet. There was nobody around, and I sat there and ate my grapes and even though they were advertised as seedless, I kept coming up with small seeds, but I didn't care because I was outside and I could shoot them anywhere I wanted.
What they wouldn't have given for a bunch of grapes in the Oklahoma panhandle in the Dust Bowl years. They would have given anything, but foremost thanks.
Yeah, including the fact that the "War on Poverty" is a sick joke.