October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the opportunity to cook and eat large quantities of food relatively guilt-free. On the menu tomorrow:
- Cornish game hen with Habanero/honey glaze
- Giblet and bread stuffing
- Candied yams
- Deviled eggs
- Brussels sprouts with homemade Hollandaise sauce
- Homemade potato salad
- Blueberry ring cake topped with cranberry/orange dressing
And to drink; a Chardonnay and a Riesling from Northwest wineries.
In a nutshell, I don’t. My family is scattered about the country, and some years some of us have lived offshore. For years my youngest sister tried to get everyone to come to her house for Thanksgiving, but has given up on that. I suppose I could grit my teeth and endure the 0330 wake-up, the 0600 flight, and the massive, frustrated and frustrating crowds on both ends. It would take about 10 hours door-to-door, and then repeat the process a couple of days later. Millions of people find this worthwhile, but I’m not one of them.
The only time I’ve flown the day before Thanksgiving was while doing a job in New Jersey, and it pretty much hardened my resolve to never do that again.
We flew out of BWI (Baltimore), presumably because it was cheaper, which meant a two hour drive from the job site to the airport. It was 20 degrees that morning, with four lines at the terminal, all of them spilling out onto the sidewalk. There were hundreds of people inside, and 30 – 40 outside in each line. The lines did not move quickly. There were jokes about Russian bread lines, but it was cold, and people weren’t really dressed to spend long periods of time outside. Some jackasses tried pulling up to the curb and cutting in line, which went over about as well as you’d expect.
After about half an hour of imperceptible progress, the airline set up check-in counters outside, with skycaps at each one. Things moved along much faster then.
Setting foot on the plane felt like an accomplishment, but the cabin looked like a Third World bus. There were people and clothes and baggage everywhere. I expected to see pigs and chicken coops. I have real respect for cabin crews that work holidays.
I breathed a sigh of relief when we started the takeoff roll, but that relief disappeared while still on climb-out when the Captain announced we’d be stopping in Minneapolis for fuel on the allegedly non-stop flight. His explanation was they had a choice between off-loading fuel, off-loading baggage, or off-loading people, and they’d chosen fuel. OK, I couldn’t argue with that; I might have been one of the people cut.
The landing in Minneapolis (12 degrees) was uneventful, but we had to idle for a bit on the tarmac because we were an unscheduled flight, and there wasn’t anywhere for us to park. The woman next to me asked the flight attendant if she’d be allowed to deplane. Really?
When the fuelers did come out, they weren’t messing around: they would have done a pit crew proud. All I could think of was “These guys are working outside in 12 degree weather”. As soon as the fuel truck pulled away the flight crew whipped that plane around and took off. From touchdown to takeoff was under 25 minutes.
So no, I don’t travel for Thanksgiving.
Working on Thanksgiving
I don’t do that, either. Although I’ve been working full-time since I was 16, I’ve never worked Thanksgiving or Christmas. This is all the more remarkable given that every time I’ve gone to school I’ve worked in restaurants, but that was before business owners got greedy. I’ve noticed a trend of businesses once again closing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a trend I would encourage people to support by patronizing businesses that observe those holidays. It’s not worth sacrificing cultural traditions on the altar of Mammon.
If you have to work on Thanksgiving, you have my sympathy, and I’d encourage you to find another job.
Regrettably, one of my favorite blogs has been summarily executed. Flightlevel390, written by ‘Captain Dave’, was a very well written blog about life as a pilot for a major airline, or as he called it, ‘life on the line’. For years his effusive praise of good pilots, guarded comments on bad pilots, and poetic descriptions of the nuts and bolts of flying airliners put you in the flight deck jump seat and inside the mind of a senior airline pilot. I hope the author is well, but his blog will be missed.