Friday, March 17, 2023

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Happy St. David’s Day

March 1 is St. David’s (Dewi Sant) Day, the patron saint of Wales (“Cymru”). Notable people of Welsh descent include Richard Burton, poet Dylan Thomas, and Anthony Hopkins. Growing up, we thought our family too was Welsh on my father’s side. It turns out we’re mostly English/Northeastern European, with a strong mix of Swedish and Norwegian thrown in, but no discernible Welsh. The only thing that’s remotely of Cymru is our last name. Thanks, Ancestry.com; you’re a real buzz-kill.

Nevertheless, the Welsh have a long and proud heritage, including living in a beautiful part of the British Isles and wow can they sing.

By popular request, here is the phonetic version of the lyrics.

My hen laid a haddock on top of a tree
Glad farts and centurions throw dogs in the sea
I could stew a hare here, and brandish Don’s flan.
Don’s ruddy bog’s blocked up with sand.
Dad! Dad! Why don’t you oil Aunty Glad?
When whores appear on beer bottle pies,
Oh butter the hens as they fly.
Dad! Dad! Why don’t you oil Aunty Glad?
When whores appear on beer bottle pies,
Oh butter the hens as they fly.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day, the federal holiday mashed together to honor Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday which used to be holidays on their own. This one generically honors all presidents, and it’s a mid-winter break for schools and a day off for those of us who work in them.

Things will be a little quiet around here.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther KingToday is the federal holiday set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.

For me, growing up as a white kid in a middle-class suburb in the Midwest in the 1960’s, Dr. King’s legacy would seem to have a minimum impact; after all, what he was fighting for didn’t affect me directly in any way. But my parents always taught me that anyone oppressed in our society was wrong, and that in some way it did affect me. This became much more apparent as I grew up and saw how the nation treated its black citizens; those grainy images on TV and in the paper of water-hoses turned on the Freedom Marchers in Alabama showed me how much hatred could be turned on people who were simply asking for their due in a country that promised it to them. And when I came out as a gay man, I became much more aware of it when I applied the same standards to society in their treatment of gays and lesbians.

Perhaps the greatest impression that Dr. King had on me was his unswerving dedication to non-violence in his pursuit of civil rights. He withstood taunts, provocations, and rank invasions of his privacy and his life at the hands of racists, hate-mongers, and the federal government, yet he never raised a hand in anger against anyone. He deplored the idea of an eye for an eye, and he knew that responding in kind would only set back the cause. I was also impressed that his spirituality and faith were his armor and his shield, not his weapon, and he never tried to force his religion on anyone else. The supreme irony was that he died at the hands of violence, much like his role model, Mahatma Gandhi.

There’s a question in the minds of a lot of people of how to celebrate a federal holiday for a civil rights leader. Isn’t there supposed to be a ritual or a ceremony we’re supposed to perform to mark the occasion? But how do you signify in one day or in one action what Dr. King stood for, lived for, and died for? Last August marked the fifty-seventh anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. That marked a moment; a milestone.

Today is supposed to honor the man and what he stood for and tried to make us all become: full citizens with all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; something that is with us all day, every day.

For me, it’s having the memories of what it used to be like and seeing what it has become for all of us that don’t take our civil rights for granted, which should be all of us, and being both grateful that we have come as far as we have and humbled to know how much further we still have to go.

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Today is also a school holiday, so blogging will be on a holiday schedule.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Boxing Day

In many parts of the world, including Canada, today is Boxing Day and it’s a holiday, too.

The name derives from the tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors, which was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants.

The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, the needy and people in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era.

In the United Kingdom it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their ‘Christmas boxes’ or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year on the day after Christmas.[1]

The establishment of Boxing Day as a defined public Holiday under the legislation that created the UK’s Bank Holidays started the separation of ‘Boxing Day’ from the ‘Feast of St Stephen’ and today it is almost entirely a secular holiday with a tradition of shopping and post Christmas sales starting.

As mentioned, it’s also St. Stephen’s day, which, unless you’re up on your Catholic mythology, you only know about because of the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslaus.

I have a friend from the UK staying with me for the holidays. I asked him last night about Boxing Day and what they actually do on it in Britain. He said it’s basically a day of recovery from Christmas, not unlike the Friday after Thanksgiving here, where people just lay around and do nothing. I suspect that’s why it’s a legal holiday in some places: they acknowledge the fact that nobody wants to go to work after a massive celebration, so they might as well just make it a day.

Here in Palmetto Bay, it’s still chilly — 48F — and they’re predicting rain, so it’s a good day to just do nothing.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Christmas With And Without

This will be my first Christmas with both of my parents gone.  As this day approached and the bombardment of reminders came from all corners — TV, e-mails, the internet, even the weather — I wondered how I would feel about it.  Would the memories of Christmases long ago in our big house in Perrysburg, complete with the tree, the decorations, and the anticipations bring about a wave of sadness for those times lost?

I remember the first Christmas I spent alone.  I was working at a radio station in Frankfort, Michigan, in 1978, and going home to Perrysburg was out of reach.  So I woke up that morning in my little rented cottage on the shore of Crystal Lake and unwrapped the presents my family had sent.  I warmed up a Sara Lee coffee cake, watched some movies on TV, and then made a small dinner for myself.  Later that week my family came up to spend New Year’s at Northport Point, but I remember that solo Christmas as the beginning of the times when I would spend more of the holidays without my immediate family than I would with them.

Lest you think I wallowed in self-pity, I did not.  I knew then that if Christmas meant anything to me, then I would have to make it in my own way, much as my brothers and sister did when they started their families and carried on our family traditions with their new ones, and I would do so as well.  When I met Allen, I fell in love with his way of celebrating Christmas, which was whole hog: lights in the windows that stayed year-round, a fully decorated artificial tree — he was allergic to pine pollen — and a Christmas dinner that would have won an award on the Food Network.  I was blended into his family and their traditions as well, and when we went to Michigan to celebrate our first Christmas with my family, it was a time of laughter, cooking, and celebration of spirits of all kinds, including the 100 proof.

Since returning to Miami in 2001, I’ve found new friends to be with for the holiday: to share gifts and show gratitude for their place in my life.  The depiction of being alone on Christmas as seen in so many tearjerker Hallmark movies and Charles Dickens’ ghost story doesn’t work for me.  It’s not that I’ve forgotten what Christmas was like as a child with my family, or with Allen, or even the Sara Lee coffee cake.  It’s that I remember them as a blessing with loving people.  Remembering the times with Allen make me feel love that never went away just because he’s gone.

And I remember the long-distance calls I made home on those Christmas days to Mom and Dad to thank them for the gifts… not just for the wrapped presents that arrived from UPS, but for the gift of being able to look back at seventy years of December 25ths with love and gratitude and without regret that the times have passed.  I am making new Christmas memories every year.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Festival Of Lights

Menorah

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah (חנוכה). If you celebrate the festival, best wishes for a peaceful and joyous eight days, and remember to save some of the leftovers for your goyishe friends who have a hankering for the delicacies of the season.

Have fun taking the dreidel out for a spin.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving

I’ve been looking back through some of my Thanksgiving posts over the years for some inspiration and perhaps a perspective on the holiday. Taking a day off to express thanks and brace ourselves for the rest of the holidays is a good time to reflect and be grateful for some of the good things we have and the memories, especially now that both of my parents, who made the holidays happen, are gone. The post below is from Thanksgiving 2007, when I was looking back at a special holiday weekend.

When I was a kid growing up outside of Toledo, we had some relatives in the area, and we also belonged to a local tennis and social club that served as a gathering place for a group of families like ours and we often went there for holiday dinners. It relieved my mom from cooking one of the two big meals at the holidays; if we had Thanksgiving at home, then we went to the club or another relative’s place for Christmas, or vice versa. We also would have the Thanksgiving meal later in the day — usually around the normal dinner time — because we had season tickets to the Detroit Lions football team, and we would go up to Detroit to sit in the freezing cold bleachers to watch the Lions play their traditional Thanksgiving Day game, then come home to the dinner.

It’s been a while since my family has gotten together for Thanksgiving. We’ve all moved on to different places and have our own families. It’s been many years since my entire immediate family — Mom, Dad, and my three siblings and their families — has been together for the occasion.

However, there was one Thanksgiving that I’ll never forget: 1967. I was a freshman at St. George’s, the boarding school in Newport, Rhode Island (and also alma mater of Howard Dean and Tucker Carlson). It was my first extended time away from home and I was miserable. My older brother and sister were also away at school; one in New Jersey, the other in Virginia. My parents made arrangements for us all to get together in New York City that weekend, and they booked rooms at the Plaza Hotel. We saw two Broadway musicals — Mame with Angela Lansbury and Henry, Sweet Henry with Don Ameche — and a little musical in Greenwich Village called Now Is The Time For All Good Men…. We went shopping in Greenwich Village, took hansom cab rides in Central Park, had lunch at Toots Shor’s (and got Cab Calloway’s autograph), dinner at Trader Vic’s and Luchow’s, and saw all the sights that a kid from Ohio on his second trip to NYC (the first being the World’s Fair in 1964) could pack into one four-day weekend. Oh, and we had the big Thanksgiving dinner in the Oak Room at the Plaza with all the trimmings. That night we went down to the nightclub below the Plaza and listened to smoky jazz played by a trio and a lovely woman on piano…could it have been Blossom Dearie?

It was a magical weekend. To this day I still remember the sights and sounds and sensations, and the deep sadness that settled back over me as I boarded the chartered bus that took me back to the dank purgatory of that endless winter at school overlooking the grey Atlantic Ocean.

I’ve had a lot of wonderful and memorable Thanksgivings since then at home and with friends, everywhere from Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, and even one in Jamaica, but that weekend at the Plaza fifty-four years ago will always be special.

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I’ll be on a holiday schedule until Monday. Posting will be light and variable, but tune in tonight for A Little Night Music Thanksgiving tradition.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving Week

Miami-Dade County Public Schools, including charters, are closed for the week in tacit acknowledgement that pretty much everyone takes the week off anyway.  I’ll be working from home — something I do quite often — and looking forward to sharing the holiday with friends.  Last summer I had made tentative plans to spend the holiday with my mom in Cincinnati, but she had other plans.  So we will lift a glass in her memory of the many Thanksgivings we spent around the family table in Perrysburg, Northport Point, and the last time they visited Miami, in 2008.

So, are you traveling this holiday week or staying home?

Friday, November 11, 2022

Veterans Day

On November 11, 1918 the guns fell silent across Europe, marking the armistice that brought an end to the fighting in World War I. It used to be called Armistice Day. Today is the official holiday to commemorate Veterans Day.

In Canada, today is called Remembrance Day.  Perhaps that is the proper name for it because as time passes — it’s been 103 years since the armistice — we tend to forget the ones we lost.  Painfully, there have been more recent wars that have given us more names to remember and the living to honor.

It’s become my tradition here to mark the day with the poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872-1918)

I honor my father, two uncles, a cousin, a great uncle, many friends and colleagues, and the millions known and unknown who served our country in the armed forces.

My father (left) and his twin, 1944

Monday, October 31, 2022

Monday, October 10, 2022

Happy October Holiday

To some, today is Columbus Day. In some places, school is out and it’s a holiday. Not in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, so county workers get the day off, but their kids are in school. To a lot of people, celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus is seen as not necessarily a good thing.

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day. That means they get a six-week jump on Christmas shopping. I am sure they are thrilled to be inundated with jingling bells and heralding angels before the leaves are off the maples.

Anyway, enjoy the holiday if you celebrate it.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

יום הכיפורים

Tsom Kal

Today is the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. It is the most important and solemn day of the Jewish calendar: a time to amend behavior and seek forgiveness.

Every religion has just such a time; for example, Catholics and some other Christian denominations observe Lent and Muslims observe Ramadan, just to name a couple. But making amends is more than just a religious obligation; it is a reflection of something that is basically human, and taking one day, one month, or forty days is merely a symbolic of something we should be doing all the time.

That’s not an attempt to inflict everyone with a guilt trip, nor is it an exhortation to never make mistakes, hurt other people, or do something thoughtless. It’s going to happen, and if we all tried at the outset to avoid it, we’d never get anything done. Atonement — at least to me — is a teachable moment. We find our limitations, our blind spots, our stupidities, and we fix them for ourselves and for those we hurt in the process.

It’s no great revelation that a lot of people have trouble with the concept of atonement. To them it’s a sign of weakness; if you admit that you make mistakes, people will take advantage of you. Sure, that happens. But it’s part of the process, too, that if someone exploits it, they have their own atonement to look after at some point. Or not. Some people are beyond that. But that’s not your problem. And if you’re secure enough in your own self and you know your limitations, you will have no trouble admitting when you’re wrong and you are strong enough to take the responsibility and the consequences of screwing up. By doing that, more than just making amends and putting things right, you actually improve the situation.

In the height of this silly season of election campaigning at all levels and daily accusations of sins of commission, omission, exploitation, “gotcha,” not to mention the smug self-assurance and prideful arrogance from just about everyone — including myself — that we are right and they are wrong and there is no hope for anyone who doesn’t see the world exactly the way we do, it’s important to observe the admonitions set forth in the meaning of Yom Kippur regardless of your religious affiliation or lack of it: seek forgiveness, make amends, learn, and resolve to do better with the full knowledge that it is a never-ending process.

You don’t have to be Jewish or Catholic or Quaker or Muslim or Hindi or Pastafarian to stop for a while, even if it’s only a moment, to realize that you and that which you believe in are not the center of the universe and that getting your way or winning the argument and hurting someone else in the process isn’t just something we shouldn’t do because God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster says so. We know through our human instinct that making amends for our flaws and hurts is the most human thing we do.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Monday, September 5, 2022

Labor Day

Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times

Having grown up in a union town that was near a large city that relied on union labor, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who most hate unions are folks who think that it is unconscionable that workers should have the same rights as the managers and the owners of the company. How dare they demand a living wage and safe working conditions. Who do they think they are?

Yeah, yeah; in every large group there are bad apples and examples of bad faith and extremism. Welcome to the human race. The Republicans hold the unions up as the boogeyman of the Western world and label them as thugs… and give tax breaks to the corporations because they know that if they don’t, the corporations will kneecap them. Not literally; they’ll just stop giving them money, which, in corporate circles, is thuggery. The people who whine about “class warfare” always turn out to be the ones who are winning the war.

Perhaps one of the reasons that union membership is down is that unions have accomplished a lot of what they set out to do 100 years ago. Factories are safer, working hours are reasonable, wages are better than the minimum, and pensions provide some security. The unions have learned, however awkwardly, to accept that they have been successful, but they also know that if some people had their way in the world, they would turn back to clock to 1911, put children to work, take away the healthcare, and demand more production. After all, it works for the Chinese, and look how they’re doing.

By the way, not all union workers are Democrats; they certainly weren’t where I grew up. A lot of them are hardcore Republicans or conservatives — including police officers — who don’t care about the politics; they just want to be treated fairly. And a lot of people who are not union members are working under union contracts; in most places there is no requirement to join a union to benefit from their efforts. So while actual union membership may be down to 15% in certain industries, the number of people who are part of the union is far greater. That includes public sector jobs as well as private. So the next time someone feels the urge to union-bash, be sure you’re not peeing in your own campfire.

Since the pandemic, and perhaps as a result of so many people leaving the workforce due to business shutdowns, workers in jobs and businesses that have traditionally been non-union such as the service industry, are organizing.  Starbucks, which tries to give the appearance of a small-town operation, is seeing their workers organize, and there’s talk of workers in the fast-food chains doing the same.  They’re running into resistance from the corporate headquarters (hello, Amazon), but the tide is turning.  Fifteen dollars an hour sounds like a lot, but annualized it’s a little over $31,000 before taxes, and in this economy, that’s not much to raise a family on or live in a decent place.  In large urban areas like Miami, it’s still minimum.  No wonder they’re starting to look for the union label.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of a union of sorts; I belong to the Dramatists Guild. It provides services for writers and lyricists and makes sure that when our works are produced, we have a fair contract and get paid our royalties. The joke among us is that we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Monday, July 4, 2022

The Glorious Fourth

Flags in the Rain 07-03-14When I was a kid I was very outgoing in putting up displays for the holidays — Memorial Day, Christmas, the Fourth of July. I liked the flags, the lights, the stuff. It was cool to make a big splash. But as I grew up I grew out of it, and today I don’t go much for things like that. I don’t have a flag to fly on national holidays, and the most I’ll do for Christmas is a wreath on the door because it has good memories and the scent of pine is rare in subtropical Florida.

I suppose it has something to do with my Quaker notions of shunning iconography — outward symbols can’t show how you truly feel about something on the inside — and more often than not they are used to make up for the lack of a true belief. This is also true of patriotism: waving the flag — or wrapping yourself in it — is a poor and false measure of how you truly feel about your country.

There’s an old saying that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. As Benjamin Franklin noted, no country had ever been formed because of an idea. But when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1776 and passed the resolution embodied in the Declaration of Independence, that was what was being done: create a nation not based on geographical boundaries, property, tribalism, or religion, but on the idea of forming a new government to replace the present form because the rulers were incompetent, uncaring, and cruel. The American Revolution wasn’t so much a rebellion as it was a cry for attention. Most of the Declaration is a punch-list, if you will, of grievances both petty and grand against the Crown, and once the revolution was over and the new government was formed, the Constitution contained many remedies to prevent the slights and injuries inflicted under colonialism: the Bill of Rights is a direct response to many of the complaints listed in the Declaration.

But the Declaration of Independence goes beyond complaints. Its preamble is a mission statement. It proclaims our goals and what we hope to achieve. No nation had ever done that before, and to this day we are still struggling to achieve life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness goes on with no sign of let-up.

That is the true glory of America. Not that we complain — and we do — but that we work to fix those complaints. To put them right. To make things better than they were. To give hope to people who feel that they have no voice, and to assure that regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, who they love, or what they believe, there will be room for them to grow, do, and become whatever it is that they have the capacity to be. It’s a simple idea, but the simplest ideas often have the most powerful impact.

This nation has achieved many great things. We’ve inspired other nations and drawn millions to our shores not to just escape their own country but to participate in what we’re doing. And we’ve made mistakes. We’ve blundered and fumbled and bullied and injured. We’ve treated some of our own citizens with contempt, and shown the same kind of disregard for the rights of others that we enumerated in our own Declaration of Independence. We have been guilty of arrogance and hypocrisy. But these are all human traits, and we are, after all, human. The goal of government is to rise above humanity, and the goal of humanity is to strive for perfection. So if we stumble on the road to that goal, it is only because we are moving forward.

I love this country not for what it is but for what it could be. In my own way I show my patriotism not by waving a flag from my front porch but by working to make things work in our system and by adding to the discussion that will bring forth ideas to improve our lives and call into question the ideas of others. It is all a part of what makes the simple idea of life, liberty, and that elusive happiness so compelling and so inspiring, and what makes me very proud to be a part of this grand experiment.

Go forth!

Photo: The Avenue in the Rain by Frederick Childe Hassam 1917.

[This post originally appeared on July 4, 2005.]

Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day

I grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio. It’s a small town, a suburb of Toledo, and when I was a kid in the 1950’s and ’60’s, it fit all of the images that small towns in the Midwest have: tree-shaded streets, neat homes, lots of churches, and a main street — Louisiana Avenue — with little shops like the drug store with the fountain, the dime store, the barber shop, the hardware store, the bakery with the smell of bread baking and the sweet scent of icing, and the bank with the solid stone exterior. They’re all still there, just under different names now, and my parents, who still live there, still call the drug store by its old name, even though it’s changed owners and become a jewelry shop. In the winter the Christmas decorations line the street, and each Memorial Day there is a parade that starts at the Schaller Memorial, the veterans hall, and proceeds up Louisiana Avenue, taking a turn when it reaches the Oliver Hazard Perry Memorial (“We have met the enemy and they are ours…”) and marches down West Front Street past the old Victorian homes that overlook the Maumee River.

When I was a kid the parade was made up of the veterans groups like the American Legion and the VFW, and platoons of soldiers and veterans, including, through the 1970’s, the last remaining veterans of World War I. They wore their uniforms and their medals, and those that couldn’t march sat in the back seat of convertibles, waving slowly to the crowds that lined the sidewalks. They were followed by the marching band from the high school, the color guard, the Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the drum and bugle corps, floats from church groups, all of the city fire equipment, antique cars, and the service groups like the Shriners, the Elks, and the Kiwanis Club. After the last float came all the kids on their bicycles decorated with streamers, bunting, flags, and all the patriotic paperwork we could muster. My friends and I would try to outdo each other, and it had less to do with patriotism than it did with seeing how many rolls of red, white, and blue crepe paper we could thread in between the spokes of our wheels.

I was about ten or so on one Memorial Day when I spent a lot of time getting my Schwinn Racer ready for the big parade. It was a perfect day; the sky was a sparkling spring blue and all the floats, cars, and fire trucks were gleaming in the sun as the parade organized on Indiana Avenue in front of the Memorial Hall. The high school band in their yellow and black uniforms marched in precision as the major led off with a Sousa tune, and as the parade slowly made its way down the avenue we could see the crowds along the sidewalks waiting and waving. As we waited our turn we wheeled our bikes in circles, just like the Shriners in their little go-karts, and finally we got the signal that it was time for the kids to roll. There was an organized rush to lead off, and then we were slowly pedaling down the street, waving to everybody outside the library, the Chevy dealership, even the people lined up on the roof of the pizza parlor. I looked for my dad shooting movies with the 8mm camera, but didn’t see him. Oh, well, it didn’t matter; we were supposed to meet at the home of friends who were hosting a post-parade picnic in their backyard. Their house was at the end of the parade route, so that was the perfect place to pull out of the parade and have the first of many Faygo Redpops that summer.

But for some reason I stayed with the parade, on down West Front, and then up West Boundary and past the gates of Fort Meigs Cemetery. The floats and the fire trucks were gone, but what was left of the parade — the color guard and the veterans — went through the gates and along the path. There was no music now, just a solemn drumbeat keeping a steady muffled tapping. The color guard turned at a small stone memorial, and then past it to a gravesite where a family was gathered; a mother in a black dress, a father in a grey suit, and a teenage son and daughter, looking somber and out of place. The grave was still fresh, the dirt mounded over, the headstone a simple marker with a flag. A minister spoke some words, and then the color guard snapped to attention. A volley of rifle fire, then Taps, and then a tall young soldier in dress blues handed a folded flag to the mother, who murmured her thanks and tried to smile.

I suddenly realized that I felt out of place there with my gaudily-patriotic bike and my red-white-and-blue striped shirt. No one noticed me, though, and when the people started to slowly move away from the gravesite and back to the entrance, I followed along until I was able to ride slowly back to our friends’ house, park my bike with all the others, and find my parents, who probably hadn’t even noticed that I was not there with all the other kids running around and playing on the lawn.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

This post originally appeared on May 25, 2009.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Felice Cinco de Mayo

19 Mexico

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the the victory of the Mexican Army over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It’s a big deal in Mexico and in parts of this country with a large Mexican population, like California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico (where I had some of the best chile rellenos with enough green chile to take the top of your head off), although it meant more to some than others. I had a guy I worked with who was of Mexican descent who actually asked me, “Hey, when is Cinco de Mayo?” (We always suspected that he was a burrito shy of a full combo platter anyway.)

Here in South Florida, outside of Homestead with its large Mexican population (and some of the best food in the state), it’s not a big deal other than party time and a double margarita, the same way this multiethnic community deals with other national holidays like St. Patrick’s Day; we don’t really know why we celebrate it (as if defeating the French in a battle was like a huge military victory in the first place), but any excuse to eat and drink is good enough, so why fight it?

Pass the salsa.