23 November 2011

Thanksgiving, Christmas and the ever-growing Anti-American Holiday Sentiment

The holiday season has begun – and earlier than usual!

Here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area you can tell that the holiday season has begun when WWRM-FM 94.9 switches their format from their regular easy listening music to all Christmas music, claiming to “get you into the holiday spirit”. Ironically, WWRM – dubbed as The New Magic 94.9 – is on the same FM frequency as Radio Veseljak in Ljubljana, Slovenia: Although Tampa and Ljubljana are at least 6,000 miles and an ocean apart, the difference is that Radio Veseljak is only 1 kW while WWRM has a power level (97.3 kW) almost 100 times more than Radio Veseljak.

Sure, The New Magic 94.9 FM wants to get you, the Tampa/St. Petersburg area radio listener, into the Christmas spirit – just a few days after the national test of the Emergency Alert System, which turned out to be way far from perfect. Besides, WWRM – along with WMTX 100.7 FM, known as Tampa Bay’s Best Music Variety – are what are called Local Primary stations for the Emergency Alert System in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. In a national alert, these two stations pick up the alert message from either WFLF 540 AM in Orlando (which is one of many Primary Entry Point stations around the country and one of three in Florida) or from National Public Radio via satellite (using their “squawk” sub-channel) and redistribute the message to the rest of Tampa’s radio and TV outlets as well as cable systems such as Bright House Networks.

Hey, I got to admit it, this is my favorite time of the year. Even after losing my mother 11 years ago, it still is. However, I have seen a disturbing trend of anti-American holiday sentiment going around; Andrew Dart has a great page about the Anti-Christmas and Anti-Anti-Christmas Sentiment in American Society over at his web site.

Psst! In fact, why don't you read Andrew Dart's Anti-Christmas page by opening the link to the article as shown above as a new tab (simply right click on the link and select Open In New Tab); that way you can read Andrew Dart's well written page and my blog entry (the blog entry you're reading now) side by side.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing anti-American holiday sentiment going around. Last Christmas season we had numerous reports of anti-American holiday sentiment from the education front as I discussed in an earlier blog entry, which I will summarize here:

1. Heathrow Elementary School in Heathrow, Florida (a small town just outside Orlando, not the airport in London) banished everything Christmas, including Christmas colors, from the school on the orders of its principal. The reason was that people may be offended.

2. Battlefield High School in Manassas, Virginia also banished everything Christmas on the orders of its principal, Amy Etheridge-Conti. Several students were disciplined for being members of the “Christmas Sweater Club”; the reason for the discipline was that students did not want Christmas cheer.

Apparently, Ms. Etheridge-Conti did not want anything to do with Christmas and she wanted to shove her anti-American holiday season beliefs on Battlefield High’s student body. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, if you are reading this, Ms. Etheridge-Conti, if Christmas or the holiday season offends you in any way please consider buying an one-way airline ticket out of the country, especially to a country where the celebration of Christmas (or any American holiday for that matter) is illegal such as North Korea, China or Saudi Arabia.

As the holiday season draws nearer, another school has adopted its stance of anti-American holiday spirit and this time it involves more than Christmas - and I mean much more than Christmas. This article from FOX 25 in Boston caught my attention before I hopped in my car for the brief trek on Interstate 275 to my office in downtown St. Petersburg: Somerville Principal: Fall Holidays are Insensitive.

What? Fall (and Winter) holidays – Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas – are insensitive? What is going on here?

According to the FOX 25 article, the principal of Kennedy School, Anne Foley, sent a letter to faculty reminding them that they need to be careful about celebrating the fall holidays such as Thanksgiving. In essence, the fall holidays – Columbus Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving plus Veterans Day and Christmas as they are fall holidays too – were banished on the orders of Ms. Foley and these holidays were not to be celebrated in school.

Although Christmas is a winter holiday, I lumped it in along with the rest of the preceding holidays as the fall holidays for the sake of simplicity. At a most recent check of the Kennedy School's website as I am writing this blog entry, it appears that school was held on Thanksgiving week until 12 Noon on Wednesday, 23 November 2011. By comparison, the Pinellas County School District is closed for Thanksgiving week, giving students, faculty and staff a well deserved week off for a major holiday such as Thanksgiving.

Similarly, The Boston Herald has a great article on what is going on at the Kennedy School too.

By the way, Kennedy School is a K-8 school (which incorporates both elementary and middle schools) located in Somerville, Massachusetts. Somerville is a suburb of Boston located just west of Interstate 93. If you are wondering why Interstate 95 does not serve Boston proper, it is because of a freeway revolt which caused Interstate 95 to be routed onto the MA 128 loop that skirts the Boston metro area, much like how Interstate 75 is routed around but not through Tampa.

OK. Permit me to give you descriptions of the fall holidays in America from Columbus Day to Christmas, if I may:

Columbus Day is a federal holiday in which the federal government (including the US Postal Service) and banks are closed. Observances of Columbus Day by state depends on the state involved; I am not sure if Columbus Day in Massachusetts is a legal holiday but here in the great State of Florida, Columbus Day is an unofficial holiday in that state, county and city offices are open for business.

Halloween is an unofficial holiday, celebrated by children trick or treating in the neighborhood and Halloween costumes. The only entities I believe that do not observe or celebrate Halloween are religious sects that believe that Halloween is a holiday associated with witchcraft among other things.

Thanksgiving Day is an official holiday all across America. We celebrate Thanksgiving by going to relatives for Thanksgiving dinner among other things, not to mention the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, televised across the country on your local NBC affiliate.

The Day After Thanksgiving is considered a holiday depending on who you work for (for instance, if you work for a local government such as the City of St. Petersburg, the Day After Thanksgiving is one of 10 city holidays observed throughout the year as all city offices are closed); it is also known as Black Friday and the start of the Christmas holiday season. Thanksgiving Day, along with Christmas Day, is supposed to be a day of rest for most of us.

Finally, Christmas Day needs no introduction. We know what Christmas day is: Christmas lights, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer … and the Christmas traditions go on. Christmas is not only just an American holiday; Christmas is celebrated worldwide save for a few countries where human rights and civil liberties are grossly violated.

What I can say is this: The fall and winter holidays of Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as Halloween – plus the other holidays of the year such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day and New Years Day – are a part of the American way of life. As such, these holidays and traditions will continue to be around, as long as the United States of America is in existence, so get used to it.

As for Anne Foley, Principal of Kennedy School in Somerville, MA, may I offer you some words of suggestion for the anti-Americanism you have forced on your faculty and students?

1. Take down the flags of both the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that fly in front of your school. Next, hoist the flag of a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, preferably a country where human rights and civil liberties are grossly violated.

2. Next, ban any recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag. While you’re at it, ban any singing of The Star Spangled Banner on your school campus. Instead, play the national anthem of the country you have chosen that is represented by the flag you have hoisted on the flagpole in front of your school on your school’s closed circuit TV system every morning as a part of your school's morning announcements. Have your students learn the words to the national anthem of the country you have chosen too.

If that does not work for you, and if American fall/winter holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas continue to offend you in any way, then I have another suggestion for you: Purchase a one way airline ticket from Logan International Airport in Boston to a country where human rights and civil liberties are grossly violated, such as Belarus, Cuba, China, North Korea or even Saudi Arabia. Besides, celebrating any American holiday in Saudi Arabia is illegal!

As I mentioned in another previous blog entry, there are school principals unfortunately that control their schools much like the governments of Belarus (think Alexander Lukashenko), Cuba (think Raul Castro) or the closed world of North Korea run by Kim Jong-Il. Why? Your parental rights are trumped and usurped while your children are in school; try to “interfere” with your child’s education and you can get arrested and your child taken into the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families (the Florida DCF, also called the Florida Department of Complete Failure) or, at the least, turned into a second class citizen and trespassed which banishes you from school property, perhaps forever.

OK. Let's change gears a little bit while we're on the subject of anti-American holiday sentiment.

Now for another alarming trend of anti-American holiday sentiment, this time on the Corporate America front: Businesses that used to be traditionally closed for Thanksgiving are opening their doors, all in the name of profit.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two very important holidays in which people rest and be with their families, celebrating the spirit of the season. Unfortunately, Corporate America wants to cash in on greed, especially with the Day After Thanksgiving (more commonly known as Black Friday), and open businesses either at 12:01 AM on the Day After Thanksgiving or, worse, open on Thanksgiving Day.

The newest offender on the block as far as being open the Day After Thanksgiving is Target. In order to get a jump start on the holiday shopping season, Target decided to open its stores at 12:01 AM on the Day After Thanksgiving. While Target may be closed on Thanksgiving Day to the public, unfortunately their associates have to work on Thanksgiving in order to prepare for the biggest shopping day of the year. The result: Target’s associates cannot be with their families for Thanksgiving Day.

Whoa! Work on Thanksgiving Day?

First, I can understand that our police officers, firefighters and public safety personnel do have to work not only on Thanksgiving Day, but any holiday of the year for that matter. After all, we rely on these fine personnel to keep us safe.

However, I am miffed when I find out that a retailer – especially a retailer known for traditionally closing on Thanksgiving so that their employees can be with their families – decides to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day all in the name of making a quick buck. Does Corporate America care anymore about America’s traditional holidays?

Being open on Thanksgiving Day is fairly new. Here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, we have businesses that are traditionally closed on Thanksgiving Day so that their employees can be with their families. A great example is Publix Super Markets, which has had a closed on Thanksgiving Day policy from the day George Jenkins founded Publix a long time ago.

Unfortunately, two other supermarkets in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area - Sweetbay Supermarket and Winn-Dixie – are open on Thanksgiving Day. Sweetbay claims that they are open on Thanksgiving for customer convenience, but Sweetbay’s Belgian owners – Delhaize Group – apparently believes that Thanksgiving is an interruption to their business. While Sweetbay may be open as a customer convenience, in reality their associates cannot enjoy quality time with their families on Thanksgiving.

Besides, Belgium does not celebrate Thanksgiving as it is not one of their legal holidays, period. Thanksgiving, being mainly an American holiday, is celebrated in a few other countries around the world, but with different traditions and on different dates.

Sweetbay used to be known as Kash ‘n Karry, which was locally owned here in Tampa for many years. Then Belgian based Delhaize Group came into town in 1996 and bought up the Kash ‘n Karry chain, remodeled the stores, and rebranded them as Sweetbay as we know today.

Practically the same thing is over at Winn-Dixie. Besides being open for Thanksgiving in the name of customer convenience, Winn-Dixie is notorious for poor customer service: Rude and belligerent checkout staff as well as forcing you to surrender your personal information if you want lower prices or you are subjected to substandard treatment as a customer. In other words, the person ahead of you with a Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card gets better treatment while you, with no card (being your choice), are subjected to more harsh and belligerent treatment. (In fact, Winn-Dixie's way of dabbling into your personal business has gotten more severe: When you go to pay for your items at the register with your debit card, the cashier belligerently and brashly asks you "debit or credit?" Until recently, Winn-Dixie never asked that when you pay for your groceries with your debit card. To me, Winn-Dixie's way of asking you how you want to pay is none of their business - Publix doesn't even do a thing like that). Like Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie’s associates end up paying for being open on Thanksgiving Day in that they cannot enjoy quality time with their families on Thanksgiving.

Let’s head over to McDonald’s, also notorious for poor customer service (especially the McDonald's restaurants in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area that are owned by the Caspers Company). Traditionally McDonald’s says on their hours of operation when you walk into the restaurant: “We rest on Thanksgiving and Christmas”. Not so. I have seen McDonald’s open on Thanksgiving morning only for breakfast, but I am seeing that being extended into a full day. Seems like Thanksgiving is more and more being placed on the backburner nowadays. What is going on here?

Now here’s my take on the fall holidays in America, as far as public school and Corporate America are concerned:

1. Being a native born American citizen, I firmly and strongly believe in all the holidays that America celebrates, including the major fall holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2. If schools do not want to celebrate any of the holidays, then consider holding school on these holidays such as Thanksgiving.

3. If Corporate America does not want to have anything to do with Thanksgiving, then have your corporate eons lobby Congress to repeal Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Believe me – it won’t happen; Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in tradition as an American national holiday to begin with, going back to the days when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620 and earlier when Juan Ponce De Leon landed on the Florida east coast near St. Augustine in 1513.

4. Thanksgiving and Christmas are holidays to be with family and friends. As such, I do not conduct any business on Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.

5. Finally, if the spirit of the American holidays – especially the fall holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas – offend you in any way, please consider leaving the United States of America and find another country where our American holidays are not celebrated, especially a country where human rights and civil liberties are grossly violated.

We cannot let the fall holidays including the major holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas become endangered, thanks to public schools and Corporate America that think these holidays are a nuisance. Thanksgiving and Christmas - along with America's other major holidays - are not a nuisance; instead our nation's holidays are part of our heritage.

So, onward with Thanksgiving, Christmas and the holiday season!

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