Op-ed: Season’s retreatings

  • By Bob Franken
  • Wednesday, November 29, 2017 10:35am
  • Opinion

Still another Thanksgiving has passed, and I have done what I always do: nothing. I didn’t overeat, and certainly didn’t travel. Getting together with family and friends can wait for a nonholiday. There is no way in the world I’m going to endure airports, long Transportation Security Administration lines and flights that are even more tortuous than normal. Ditto for jammed and dangerous highways to take us crawling over the hills and through the woods. Did I mention that I also avoid going out on New Year’s Eve, when the streets are filled with drunk drivers? Same for St. Patrick’s Day.

I also completely ignored Black Friday. I have trouble understanding what would possess anyone to wait for hours in traffic choke points just to wedge into malls packed with other sweaty shoppers. Yes, I realize that they are enticed by a few items for which the price has been reduced, but even the bargains that are for real are not worth the price in human suffering, to say nothing of a loss of dignity that comes with being part of this mob commerce. Do I have to mention the long waits at checkout registers, often manned (or womanned) by weary cashiers who are frequently surly? Who can blame them, considering how little they’re paid? Besides, if one must shop in person, wait a week or two until the disappointing sales numbers come out (they always do) and then get better deals when the merchants desperately mark down everything.

Of course, one doesn’t have any need be there. One can simply float down the cybershores of the Amazon. There we find a paradise of online purveyors who offer up gifts you can afford. Or not. They will be delivered right to your home. Or someone else’s. And they might be stolen, but hey, we can’t have everything.

Speaking of all the holiday hoopla, there’s this other tradition that I find truly grating: It’s the annoying Thanksgiving push to “give thanks.” Imagine that. I have a real gratitude attitude about the whole full-fledged, year-round movement, which has it that there’s always something about which you can be grateful, whether you’re feeling the love or not. Some gurus even insist that it’s good for your mental health if you somehow dredge up something about which you can express positive feelings. I say that’s a crock. How could being delusional be good for your mental health?

I must admit, though, that there is someone who, as a journalist-wannabe, I genuinely do appreciate. Of course I’m referring to Donald Trump. Never mind that he’s destroying the country; to those of my ilk he is the gift that keeps on giving. Who else provides a steady stream of hate and bad taste? It doesn’t take any work on our part to uncover outrageous behavior. We can merely sit back and leisurely wait for the next tweet or inane comment, or action by his henchpeople to stick it to humanity, even those who supported him in the election. Frankly, because they adamantly stand with him no matter what he does, it’s tempting to say they deserve whatever they get. The problem is that everyone else gets it too.

He certainly is our “Man of the Year” — Time magazine was really dopey to raise any doubts about that. The only possible alternatives would be Harvey Weinstein, for obvious reasons, or Colin Kaepernick, who makes my list simply because he and his movement antagonize so many people. Actually, in that spirit, we should include Vladimir Putin, Trump’s manipulator.

It’s a special time of year here in D.C., what with the lighting of the various gargantuan trees and the anxiety over whether our political leaders will agree to avoid a government shutdown. Unfortunately, we can’t ignore that, or them.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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