The Holiday greeting cards are coming in, each one with a message of goodwill printed inside. They are a fine way of keeping in touch with friends and family, but not as heartwarming or as intimate as a proper letter. A letter is like a hug, but a greeting card is like a casual wave across a crowded room. An electronic card is more like a flash of headlights on a busy highway, signaling: "I know you're there, sorry I can't stop."
Public libraries are one of the world's two greatest bargains, and one of the best human inventions - better than Interstate highways, better than WalMart, better even than schools. Because schools narrow down the learning process, and libraries open it up. I would even go so far as to say that libraries are more important to the future of this country than the NFL and the NRA put together, although I know this is sacrilege.
It's the first day of December, Thanksgiving is behind us, and we are entering the party season. The liquor stores are fully stocked, and State Police officers are sharpening their pencils ready for a bumper crop of DWIs. Here comes the once-a-year excuse to let your hair down (if you still have any) and travel back to the days when a party was something to remember, something that the ancient Romans would have recognized as a party – the kind that ended with a large number of casualties and sometimes destroyed entire buildings.
We are taught to believe that Thanksgiving celebrates the first harvest gathered by the Pilgrims in the autumn of 1621. The story goes that they feasted for three days on turkeys and fruit given to them by the Indians. This doesn't sound very plausible to me. The Pilgrims, after all, were British, and the British only eat turkey at Christmas.
Hospitality – what a wonderful warm, evocative word that is. One of the most basic obligations of a civilized society is to provide hospitality to strangers. The only problem is that most of those who arrive at this time of year are not strangers. In spite of the growth of the hotel industry many folks still feel obliged to provide free accommodation for their nearest and dearest, ignoring local ordinances about overcrowding, as well as violating the Constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.