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Thanksgiving notes

Andy Barker
Andy Barker

For many Americans Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) is the non-religious holiday of the year. Why they choose to keep is so late in November, and not on a Monday or Friday, beats me?

However, the holiday’s significance is being eroded as corporations bait citizens away from the family table with the lure of big discount shopping deals. The post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy known as Black Friday is now even done on Thanksgiving Day. Will someone die this year in a stampede to buy some silly special? So, sad, America, that is not great.


The American Thanksgiving is directly linked to the Pilgrims in 1621 who celebrated a harvest meal, and shared it peacefully with the first Americans — the native people. Unfortunately, that beginning didn't cement a true friendship between the Europeans and the First Nations Peoples.


Nevertheless, the Americans, regardless of the multitude of historical sins and issues facing them whether it is drugs, guns, race, religion, politics or economic disparities, have much to be thankful for this day; and every day of the year.


Newfoundland joined Canada only in 1949 and my first real exposure to the Canadian Thanksgiving happened when I attended St F X University in Nova Scotia, 1964-68.


Newfoundlanders have a great sense of kinship with Americans as many of our relatives moved to the States to work before we joined Canada. As well, estimates of 30,000-40,000 Newfoundland and Labrador women married American servicemen who served on the four US military bases here from 1941-94.


Kin or no kin, I am thankful the USA is our neighbour rather than any one of the despicable dictatorial governments that are located in various parts of the world.


I am thankful for long standing friendships with my American classmates whom I met at St F X University. Even though we don't see each very often, the times we do are cherished moments. May this day, find them and their families well.


I am thankful to have memories of my boyhood days of waking up

Christmas morning, and finding among other treats, California grapes in my stocking.


I am thankful to the Americans for giving us the Internet, Google and YouTube; with them, unlimited information is at my fingertips. The same combo allows me to laugh my head off at old Marx Brothers movies or watch Hank Williams sing, "Cold, Cold Heart".


An American tradition established in President Kennedy's time is a Presidential Thanksgiving pardon for a turkey (the fowl, not a person). Quite a come down for a man who could decide to launch nuclear weapons. But this year I wish President Obama would forget the fowl and pardon a person - Edward Snowden - who leaked classified information on the spying done by the US government on its own people and foreigners.


America always attracts attention, and more than ever it has done that with the election of Donald Trump as the incoming president. Many Americans and foreigners are not thankful that Trump will be the next President as they see him as hitting the bottom of the barrel. Obviously, the American voters who elected Trump disagree with that view.


Why did only 58 per cent of eligible voters actually vote? (The last election that had more than 60 per cent of Americans turnout to vote was in 1968.) Are voters turned off with the long dragged out election process that fills the media, seemingly to no end, before they vote? Are Americans sick of the election baloney, sick of voting for millionaires as they dominate government (NY Times, Jan 12, 2015 more than half of Congress are millionaires)?


For Americans there is little time to rest from elections and politicians as the next election is on Nov. 6, 2018 for 33 seats in the Senate (six-year terms) and for all the 435 seats in the House of Representatives (two-year terms). The American election machine never stops.


Donald Trump, for better, for worse, is the President Elect of the United States. Some people seem to have a great deal of fear of him; a disaster in the making. Maybe they are absolutely right.


However, even though Trump may still mouth off, his ability to govern like he speaks will hit a wall — the American system of checks and balances; the three branches of government. The President cannot run the USA like a demigod. Donald Trump may end up with lots of bark, but very little bite.


As well, the demigod route will only rile up students in universities and institutes, the independent thinkers, bloggers, unions, the media and the millions of voters in big cities on both coasts who did not vote for him.


In Christian teachings, Saul was on the road to Damascus to persecute more Christians, but was struck down and blinded by the Light. Once his eyes were opened three days later he had a new vision, a changed man whom we know as St. Paul.


Once in office will President Donald Trump keep his present ways and be a Saul? Or will he have his eyes opened to the real needs of ordinary Americans (and ordinary citizens of the world) regardless of race, religion, gender or age; and become a Paul?

Who in his right mind would not be thankful for the latter?


Andy Barker can be contacted at

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