Thursday, November 28, 2013

the 4th Thursday

 Norman Rockwell. Freedom From Want. 1943.
 “The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

Franklin Roosevelt enumerated Four Freedoms in a 1941 speech. Norman Rockwell painted an image for each freedom. Cleveland recognised the importance [click]. This painting entered its own existence. The painting has suggested to many a particular, traditional, waspish bounty (no wine, for that matter no coffee). The speech was limning a better future, that was presently absent in the world. Rockwell was a good Democrat, and a supporter of FDR, and later JFK. Roosevelt's words looked at a time for the entire world to come, Americans have looked to the painting as a nostalgia for a past. Mark Twain mentioned the Thanksgiving holiday several times, he had this to write about the celebration of the day:
“The observance of Thanksgiving Day--as a function--has become general of late years. The Thankfulness is not so general. This is natural. Two-thirds of the nation have always had hard luck and a hard time during the year, and this has a calming effect upon their enthusiasm.” — Mark Twain. Following the Equator. 1897.
There are two stories: the cover story that the culture is obliged to portray, and the actual one.  For years here in Cleveland, the Cleveland parish of Saint Augustine has fed the poor, the handicapped, and the homeless each day of the year. They have had satellite centers, and travelling volunteers for this fourth Thursday in November. Year after year, the local television news channels film a story about Saint Augustine; sometimes they come on other days for a similar story at St. Auggie's. The new teevee reporter in town gets to find out. But go ask Sr. Corita Ambro, she is approaching eighty, this is not her first rodeo. The need is greater than one meal a year. The US does not like people that hunger for merely food, but there seems to be a cultural kudos to see the generosity of them being fed on the 4th Thursday of one month, and thanks to Charles Dickens, and on Christmas. People need to eat a few times each day. Saint Augustine is in the same neighborhood as the Four Freedoms obelisk, the oldest south side, or Lincoln Heights, now Tremont. Tremont is now known for having chic restaurants, and other trendy things.
postscriptum: Overall i am not particularly fond of Turkey Day. I have been posting these little commentaries beginning July of '07, and have touched on the topic a few times. In one i quote Chesterton [click], and Twain in another [clickage]. The holiday has always felt contrived. Now, on the odd occurrence [the holiday has been a regular annual since 1863, but it has been a moveable day set by the President, so naturally when Franklin Roosevelt moved it, Republicans made a stink, so by law it is now on the 4th Thursday of November, as passed by Congress and signed by Roosevelt 26 December 1941 (not on the last, not on the next to last)] this year of having it as late as it can be, and the Jewish semi-lunar calendar having the first day of Hanukah as early as it can be this year, let everyone light a candle.

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