Monday, November 23, 2015

Fast Forward Right Past Thanksgiving

 Fast Forward Past Thanksgiving
    Thanksgiving has long been my favorite national holiday. I observe and appreciate the others, but I especially like Thanksgiving for a number of reasons. I like that there is little pressure about gifts, that it involves food, that it is a chance for people to come together and just be with each other, and, most importantly, that it celebrates the idea of gratitude. Gratitude seems to have a hard time of it in our modern world, and I am glad that there is at least one day where that thought is pretty much universally recognized and celebrated. I love taking time out to focus on being grateful for what I have in my life, to slow down and take a real serious look at the people who are important parts of my life and provide so much, and to just live in a few moments of simple appreciation of all that surrounds me. Sometimes I can get so caught up in the speed and complexity of life that I can forget to take time to notice the small wonderful things that are quiet parts of my life. And being grateful gives me opportunities to do that.

   This year, though, I have noticed that Thanksgiving seems to be nearly absent on the national commercial scene. We seemed to have fast forwarded from the Halloween commercial onslaught right past Thanksgiving and into Christmas mode. Store window decorations, TV and media ads, newspaper ads and more have barely taken note this year of our one day set aside for reflection and being grateful. Of course we are a country of commerce-we are a civilization, after all, and civilizations are about trade and cities and growth and expansion. Getting people to buy and consume things is central to our development-business is central to our growth. I get that, and there is nothing wrong with that per se. But there are times when it seems a little out of bounds and over the top. Looking at what we do and how we do it on the commercial front is often a good indication of where we are as a culture, and this year we are not into being grateful. This year we seem to be hell bent and desperate about jetting into the land of profit and super-consumption. And when that feeling is on, there is little room for being grateful. Ads this year talk about “winning Christmas,”“proving your love” and even something called “Thanksgetting.” That is a far cry from gratitude, and that bothers me.

    But just when I am getting cynical and depressed about all of that I remember that gratitude is something that seems to be essential to humans; something humans seem to need to do. The idea of having some type of “thanksgiving” with a lower case “T” is nearly universal, whether it is represented by something as simple as saying grace or by the more elaborate rituals and celebrations that have existed throughout our history and on every part of the planet. Pre-civilized people who farmed, ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans and Chinese, and just about every religious tradition has had rituals and days around the fall equinox where humans give thanks to beings or gods or spirits for what they hope will be a good harvest. Nomadic and herding cultures didn't farm, but they also needed the regular cycle of seasons and growth to provide food for their grazing herds. They, too, had holidays and rituals that involved giving thanks and showing gratitude for the bounty of the earth. We seem to need the intervention or help of mysterious sources outside ourselves to get by, and we need to acknowledge that. We need help; we cannot be sure of what our efforts and labors will present us with, so nothing can or should be taken for granted. We also need to realize that by ourselves we do not do well: humans are social animals, and we need the mutual support and interdependence of other humans to accomplish things. It is a good idea, most cultures think, to thank one another for that. We simply need each other too much to do otherwise.

    So I hope more of us can resist the”gimme” and “I want” state of so much of our culture today and focus on gratitude. That we can slow down, stand back and realize how much there is to be grateful for. However and whyever it is so, a lot of our lives are way above and beyond our own efforts. A lot happens that we really have no role in and which mystifies us. At least one day a year we Americans can get to be truly cognizant of that fact and share it with others. We get the opportunity to look at our lives and where we are, and we can express our thanks for our situation and lives just a little more humbly. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Friday November 27 Alma Mater-7165 Germantown Ave; Philadelphia, PA 19119; 267-335-4909;; $12; sets start at 9:00
Want to loose some of those Thanksgiving added pounds? Need to dance of that turkey and stuffing? Come on out For Blues Friday -the Friday after Thanksgiving to this great new club on the scene for a post-Thanksgiving party Dukes style. The club has new ownership, a variety of draft beers on tap, room to dance, and some great food (Try the crab cakes!) Former home of North by Northwest at the corner of Mt. Airy and Germantown Ave, it is the place to dine and and dance those extra pounds away. Come help welcome the Dukes to this new venue.

Friday Dec 18; World Cafe Live 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, doors 7PM Show 8PM; $13 advance-$15 door; 215-222-1400;
No, we are not there for New Year's this year, so we are having our own little “Early New Year's Party.” World Cafe has a great sound system, great seats, delicious food, plenty of space to dance, and there will be noisemakers provided for the Early New Year's party. Get the jump on the rest of the world; say, “Hi” to 2016 week and a half early. Get some friends together and come party with the Dukes.

Friday, January 8; The Twisted Tail; 720 South 2nd St.; Philadelphia,PA
215-558-2471;; sets 9PM-1AM; no cover
This is the Dukes debut gig at the Twisted Tail, one of the areas top blues venues, and we are looking forward to playing the place. Good food and drink, some space to dance in front of the stage, and a good blues-loving crowd. Welcome the Dukes to the Tail and come and enjoy the start of 2016 with the Dukes at the hotspot for blues in Philly-The Twisted Tail.

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