Monthly Archives: November 2008

Quote of the Week

On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge our dependence.
               – William Jennings Bryan
                  American Politician and Orator (1860-1925)
                  US Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson

The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

I came across this poem recently, and today’s the perfect day to share it with all of you.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving

The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell.
Upon the day of bygone years,  the days I loved so well;
But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago.
When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
With little Jamie at the foot and grandpa at the head.
The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.

It may be I’m old-fashioned, but it seems to me to-day
We’re too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;
Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;
It lieves within a world itself and wants to be alone.
It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;
There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,
Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,
Letting the others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.

I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin
And whether living far or near, they all came trooping in
With shouts of “Hello, daddy!” as they fairly stormed the place
And made a rush for mother, who would stop to wipe her face
Upon her gingham apron before she kissed them all,
Hugging them proudly to her breast, the grownups and the small.

Then laughter rang throughout the home, and Oh, the jokes they told;
From Boston, Frank bought new ones, but father sprang the old;
All afternoon we chatted, telling what we hoped to do,
The struggles we were making and the hardships we’d gone through;
We gathered round the fireside.  How fast the hours would fly-
It seemed before we’d settled down ’twas time to say good-bye.
Those were the glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
When relatives could still be friends and every heart was true.




 I just want to smack those few parents across the country who are causing a ruckus, attempting to eliminate Thanksgiving pageants, celebrations, and dress-up for small children because they are “offended” by the “Indian” garb (“stereotyping Indians,” they say) or the supposed whitewashing of the history of the conflict between Europeans and original natives of this land.


My family has traveled extensively in the Southwest and do we have stories…one in particular was the day we climbed up a steep mesa some hundreds of feet in the August heat to be greeted by hovels for homes but a spectacular view.  I questioned our guide as to why people would have ever lived up here on this barren rock formation with no ability to plant because the only water was rain or water carried up the difficult trail.  He said at first, “look at these beautiful views.”  Well, they were breath-taking.  But the living conditions were seemingly below the minimum allowable for human beings.  He then continued with, “Living up here gave great safety to the tribe from other tribes who would rob, kill our young men, and then take our women, children, cattle and possessions.”





Nonetheless, having school children enact scenes of peace and mutual respect and camaraderie does nothing to defame the indigenous population or the fleeing Europeans…in spite of the funny looking clothes (oh, and “Goth” looks any better?).


I am concerned, as are many others, with the growing trend of one “offended” person having sufficient power to rip away the fabric of American tradition; of small groups rebelling violently against fair, democratic elections, and the fearful gutlessness of those who stand by and let this all happen.

Feminists Should Go Where They Are Needed

I’m all for feminists…in their place, of course (which clearly isn’t in the kitchen; but I digress)

Instead of marching in public to make sure that babies born even up to, but not including, their heads can be killed (also known as late term abortion), and that minors can abort their babies without mommy and daddy knowing, and demanding that the world provide day-care so that all mothers can dump their kids into the arms of hired help, and also that unmarried women can adopt babies in spite of the need of children for a daddy…how ’bout having these well- meaning activists go to Afghanistan and protect girls whose only wish is to go to school and be educated so they can participate in their society? 

As reported by the Associated Press – and not for the first time – Taliban men on motorcycles attacked 15 girls on their way to school and squirted their faces with acid. The next morning, no girls showed up at school in Kandahar’s Mirawais Mena girls’ school.

Arsonists have repeatedly attacked girls’ schools and gunmen kill students.  UNICEF says there were 236 school-related attacks in Afghanistan in 2007.

Activism is an important quality of people motivated with a mission to preserve and protect innocents.  Feminists go after fetuses…let them instead go after the Taliban.  I think it would make a huge statement and impact to have American women locked and loaded and protecting these young women who strive for the basic right to an education.

If America’s feminists would commit to such missions, I would respect and support them wholeheartedly.

Greedy Woman in Oregon

Awwww…give me a break.  I’m actually supposed to feel sorry for this Oregon woman who is out $400,000 because of…well, GREED!  I feel as sorry for her as I feel for the folks who took out home loans they couldn’t pay back or the CEOs of bankrupt companies who get to lose their jobs with tens of millions in severance pay.

This woman mortgaged her house, took a lien out on the family car and ran through her husband’s retirement account.  How and why?  Well, here it comes: she received an e-mail promising her $20.5 million if she would only help out a long-lost relative with a little money up front.  Her family and bank officials told her it was a scam and begged her to stop, but she was obsessed with the thought of becoming a multi-millionaire.

This whole affair was a scheme called the “Nigerian scam” and it’s familiar to many people with e-mail accounts.  Over the last several years, one of these has come to my email address.  They promise you zillions of dollars for just thousands of dollars necessary to jump-start some transfer of money or some business.

I remember long ago seeing a Donohue TV program with six women all complaining that some guy scammed them by “wining and dining” them…on their own money!  The guys would say they were coming into lots of money, but they needed a place to live and money to spend until their golden ship came in….oh please….this was a study in denial: “I’m getting attention so I’ll deep-six my brain.”

Back to this woman in Oregon.   She’s gotten herself and her husband into horrific debt and who knows if, how, or when they’ll be able to get out of it.
As a psychotherapist, I’m frankly happy with some aspects of America’s economic crisis.  While stores are worried that people don’t impulse buy any more, or that the purchase of frivolous, unnecessary, redundant or “show-off” things is dropping, I’m glad that so many adults, and hopefully their children, are learning an important lesson in the difference between want and need, and the potential devastation of leveraging yourself with debt for possessions that ultimately don’t matter much.

 During the recent California fires, people didn’t run out of their homes with their cars, iPods or fancy clothes.  They left with photos of the family as their number one concern.

 I don’t feel sorry for that Oregonian – I feel sorry for the family she devastated financially with her greed.

Choosy Mates

I cannot emphasize enough how, as a marriage and family therapist, I am impressed with female fiddler crabs.  A study published in the journal Animal Behavior, found that females of the species Uca crenulata – also known as  fiddler crab – may check out 100 or more male fiddler crabs and their burrows before finally deciding on a mate.

Now…make no mistake : she’s not getting it on with 100 males.  She is making certain that the one she picks is one she can count on to protect and provide for her young ‘uns. 

Why are female fiddler crabs so picky?  The survival of their offspring appears to be strongly linked to the size of their mate and his “crib” – to borrow some vernacular.  The size of the male’s….burrow…affects the development time of the larvae.  A burrow of just the right width and depth dimensions allows larvae to hatch at the perfect, safest time, the peak outward nighttime flow of the biweekly tidal cycle.

So here’s how it all looks: the male fiddler crabs stand in front of their burrows and wave their enlarged….claws….at prospective female passers-by, much as a human fellow might wave his arms or hands in a “come over here” motion. The interested females initially eye the males, and if something tweaks ‘em, they partially or fully enter a burrow to size it up.  When a female finds a mate and burrow to her liking, one of them closes the door behind them, they mate, and incubate their eggs, which later hatch and release little baby crab larvae that are quickly flushed from the estuary by high night tides.

Why is this of interest to me…and should be of interest to you?  Because I am amazed at how little effort so many women and men seem to put into making one of the most important decisions of a lifetime: their life-long (if they’re smart) mate.  I have long nagged that judges and clergy should not marry people who have not undergone at least 6 months of pre-marital counseling to make sure that they are:  1) capable of making a loving commitment to another person, 2) are reasonably objective as to the quality of this “match,” 3) have had experience working through problems and differences with this person in non-combative, constructive ways, 4) have quality familial relationships all the way around, and 5) are in agreement on basic but important issues such as children and child-care, financial considerations, religious persuasions, geography, life-style, ideals, values and goals…..and that is just for starters.

Good marriages – life long ones – don’t just happen.  Choose wisely – then – treat kindly.

Quote of the Week

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues
               – Cicero
                  Roman statesman, orator, and philosopher