Tis the Season of Politics, Family, Science – and More

Assorted Issues and Observations to Share


 I can never think about Thanksgiving without remembering the now iconic column written by journalist/humorist Art Buchwald, explaining the holiday to the French (he was assigned to Paris at the time, with the Herald Tribune). He closed the column with two very true observations – this is the one day of the year almost the entire country eats the same things and – it is the one day of the year Americans eat better than the French.

I made a harvest pie this year for thanksgiving, a very tasty new dessert of the day for us. But nevertheless, for me this was the day that starts fruitcake season. For all I know, I may be last American alive who really likes fruitcake, but I surely do. Had a slice just to pump up for today’s blog post. Delicious when done well.

No way to know if this is the case or not, but my sensing is that there was perhaps less tension around many family gatherings this year. Perhaps it was seeing the pandemic morph into an endemic; it likely helped that the elections were behind us and went off pretty well and peacefully. Maybe just because Trump was not on Twitter (well, that blessing has run its course). For whatever reasons, it seemed a more traditional gathering across the land. Glad to have that perception – hope it is accurate.

 America’s Romance with Work May Be Over

 The Washington Post had an interesting reflection on the Pandemic that I had not really thought about. Between the extended working from home time, the reflection on what is important in life, and other pandemic driven effects, the article indicates this has all broken what it terms America’s Bad Romance with work.

The author has a good point. Americans work WAY more hours than any other industrialized country. When we lived in Europe, we were struck with how much time off people had. More national holidays, several categories of paid leave, longer vacations, etc. Much of Europe just shuts down in August.

And yet, their economies have done OK. By some measures, their mental and physical health is better than ours and quality of life is better. We seem to think that work is everything and one should never really be off work. If the pandemic does any good thing, it might be to have us rethink that as a nation. It is sorely overdue. Work is noble and important – but it is not everything.

The Closing Days of This Congress

As of this writing there are two last Congressional seats still to be determined, but no matter how they turn out the margin of majority for the Republicans would fit easily in a minivan. It will be “interesting” to see how that goes. An image comes to mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIVNke1QCbo

 In the meantime, what will the current Congress do with its few remaining days?  A long list could make our list for Santa to bring us, but time is short. Perhaps the best candidates are to pay the national debt, protect gay marriage by law, get Trump’s taxes to the committee for review, close out the JAN 6 committee report. Would like to see more, including something for the Dreamers, for example, and as a reader noted last week, the Electoral College, but the clock will likely run out. I for one would vote for no holiday breaks at all. Get the job done.

 Viruses have a habit of winning, but…

Viruses are endlessly fascinating. Remarkably simply, yet remarkably adaptable, seeming always beating our best effort. But there are several reports out of late that new science and new medicine (CRISPR and others) may finally win the war. Treatments are under development that adapt to changes that viruses make to defeat inoculations. Fingers crossed. Just think what this would mean globally.

Why I Put on a Coat — and Yes, Even a Tie

 It is that time of year wherein many of us go to concerts, performances, big deal parties. I most often wear a sport coat or jacket, even a tie, for such events. I am often asked why I would do that. Few others do, especially in the area where I live; dressing up a bit is rarer than eclipses around here.

So why do I do it? It is my way of saying “Thank you” to the people who worked long and hard to provide a stellar performance or a great gathering. It is a way to say I recognize all that went into this happening long before the event and I appreciate it. I also do as a way to say I am glad to see all my fellow guests/attendees. I am so glad to see you, that I decided to dress up a bit for the occasion.

Call me old fashioned, but I think it is a nice thing to do and not exactly a difficult thing to pull off. Besides, we all look a bit better dressed up a bit.

See you in December.

      Bill Clontz

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6 replies to Tis the Season of Politics, Family, Science – and More

  1. I am not a fan of fruitcake and never have been but my wife loves them and for the past several years she has ordered hers from Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana,Texas where they have been baking them since 1896. Apparently they are the countries largest suppler of this particular food item. Hers were waiting for us upon our return from family visits and she savories a piece every night.

    • I know that Texas fruitcake! A fine one, indeed.

  2. I also love fruitcake and can’t figure out how/why fruitcake has become the butt of so many jokes. Stale food, no matter what it is, isn’t tasty, but really, it takes a while for a fruitcake to become stale. Periodic doses of rum help with that

  3. I had a friend for years who made a fabulous fruitcake. Is there any place in Asheville to get one? I always loved it and miss it.

  4. Reading your article I knew the fruitcake subject would lead the responses. I have always loved fruitcakes, especially this holiday season. As a Rotarian years ago each member “bought” a mandatory case of Claxton fruitcakes from Georgia to either sell or give away as gifts. I passed them out to clients and they were well received. Somehow, one or two always made it to our home and made welcome snacks for days. Thanks for the memories.

    • Hey, I’m still a Clayton fan – and a Rotarian! Great minds think alike.

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