Saturday, January 14, 2012

What's it All About?

New Years is bye-bye.  The eight days of Chanukah, gone.  The Twelve Days of Christmas, poof!  All there is to look forward to in the US is Valentine’s Day, exactly one month away.  Whoopee.  Yes, in the US there’s MLK Day on Monday but it’s the kind of holiday that bounces from one Monday to the next depending on the year.  Like Presidents’ Day (this year that one’s on February 20th); the kind that doesn’t fit into your internal, since childhood celebratory calendar.  They’re more like a grown-up’s day off from the office sort of holiday.

By the way, for those of you wondering what is MLK and which Presidents have their own day I’ll tell you, but if you have to ask I doubt you’re celebrating either.  MLK stands for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Presidents’ Day replaces George Washington’s birthday, but it’s never celebrated on his actual birthday of February 22nd, although some places still call it Washington’s Birthday and in others it also replaces the celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (on February 12).  Confused?  That’s only fitting; after all it ended up this way because Congress couldn’t agree on what to call it.  Frankly, I think it’s largely called Presidents’ Day because other Presidents felt left out.  Sort of like the US electorate does the day after the Presidential Elections.
Two celebrating Presidents (Washington & Jefferson College)

But this isn’t about the state of US politics. It’s about … well, frankly I’m not sure what it’s about.

I’m on a plane out of Houston after a weeklong visit with my grandkids.  They each had colds, but being the well-mannered four- and two-year olds that they are they shared what they had with their parents.  So far not with their grandfather but their big, wet, sneezy, goodbye kisses at the airport have yet to report in to my immune system. 

So, here I am on a flight back to New York.  Wish it were back to Greece.  But not yet.  Sigh.  

 Then again, most of my Mykonian buddies are away on off-island holidays this time of the year.  Those who can afford it.  If you haven’t heard, there is a financial crisis in Greece.  But this isn’t about that either.  It’s about…

Interesting people on this plane.  A true mix of skin colors and ethnicities.  They look to be from Africa, Asia, Europe, India, Latin America, South America, The Middle East, you name it, and at least one (the fella next to me) is definitely from some yet to be discovered distant galaxy.  Yet, when they speak, it’s usually in perfect English (FYI Dan, Michael, and Stanley, that’s American English.).   

It seems to be that way almost everywhere I fly in the US these days, and I don’t think that’s because of the routes I choose.  More likely it’s because Americans all look as if they’re from somewhere else—and they are.  Even the Indians.  All 312,851,346 of US and counting.
Flag of Faces at Ellis Island Immigration Museum, New York

But this is not about immigration policy… 

Or American football.  Although from the way Houstonians are carrying on about their team you’d think they believe every single American is rooting for the Houston Texans to beat the New England Patriots in this weekend’s Super Bowl playoff game.  Yes, Beth, I was tempted to tell them that the other team does have its loyal fans, but as practically everyone in Texas is allowed to carry a gun, I decided it wiser to wait and twitter them the news once I’m back in gun-free (ha-ha) NYC.

So, what is it all about?

It’s about this….

And this…

I love and miss ya’ll very much.



  1. Erratum remainum: I left this piece unchanged from when I wrote it, even though I later realized it contained a significant cultural error. But I thought the mistake better revealed my distracted state of my mind at the time of its composition. Anyone who watched my Pittsburgh Steelers lose their game to the Denver Broncos on the very last play (something I sadly did) would know that this weekend Houston plays the Baltimore Ravens, not New England. So, instead of the Texans on Saturday night, it will be Tim Tebow and the Broncos trying to perform yet another miracle.

    My apologies to all, and good luck, Beth.

  2. This Tebow fella, what's that all about?

    Nice piece Jeff. I hope NYC offers some consolation.

  3. Tim Tebow is the twenty-four-year-old quarterback of the National Football League's Denver Broncos. The child of Baptist missionaries, he is deeply religious and has always been that way.

    He led his college team, the University of Florida, to two national championships, and won the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in the United States. Despite that impressive record there were many "in football" who said he did not have what it took to make it as a quarterback at the professional level.

    In this, his second year as a professional, he took over the quarterback position early in the season and turned around the team's losing record with a series of "miracle" finishes that has led some to say "they have never seen anything like him."

    He openly prays during games and does not hesitate to express his faith and thanks to God. That has its supporters who call him an inspiration, and opponents who think it's inappropriate to suggest God wears any one team's colors.

    But there are two things virtually everyone agrees upon when it comes to Tebow: he's sincere in his faith and is winning.

  4. The mini me of Jonathon...Exactly as I remember him!
    ur fav cuz

  5. Nice piece, Jeffrey, and thanks for explaining Tebow to me. When you consider the way some professional athletes behave, it seems to me that praying is relatively inoffensive and the people who complain about it ought to realize, along with millions of other people (including me) that not every complaint needs to be voiced publicly and loudly, and that becoming a Culture of Complaint was not really the vision that guided the creation of this country.

  6. There must be something wrong with me, Tim, I find myself agreeing with you far too often. In keeping with the Tebow tone about the country, here's a link to a David Bowie spoof by late night US TV host Jimmy Fallon. It will appeal to your musical sense and since it was sent to me by Lenny Kleinfeld you know it has to be funny.

  7. That's hilarious, Jeff. Really funny. And don't worry about agreeing with me. It's just a phase.

  8. At the risk of being corny, your pictures brought tears to my eyes. There's something about grandchildren, isn't there? Frankly, the flag at Ellis Island is a better reminder of what matters than all the posturing going on right now. I believe in each person worshipping as he will-Curt Schilling prayed before each game and his numbers weren't bad. I do have a problem with folks saying God is somehow responsible for that pass. I watched that game, Jeff, and rooted for Pittsburgh all the way, A number of my online buddies hail from Pittsburgh and I struggled right along with you.

  9. Thanks, Lil, and yes, there definitely is something about grandchildren that puts matters in perspective. With their help I've even come to accept that the Steelers probably will make it to the Super Bowl only every other year.

    And if you look carefully at the names on the jerseys of the players this weekend, you'll see a real life Ellis Island montage. Even Tim Tebow was born elsewhere--in the Philippines to American parents.

  10. Writing after my beloved Broncos loss to Green Bay, and Tebow's descent into hell. But we made it to the play-offs and that felt good!

    I'm very envious of Jeffrey's having young, young grandchildren. Mine are quite mouthy and extremely opinionated. And they WILL argue with their grandmother

  11. Jeff,I dislike football, but I love this blog post. The moving around of holidays, the gorgeous diversity one finds in our fellow Americans, and ESPECIALLY the delights of grandchildren, all resonate with me. I hope your cold is better. Stay inside. It's freezing in New York. That photo of Mykonos sure looks inviting right now.

  12. Charlotte, Charlotte, we both know the Broncos descent into hell did not come at the hands of the cheeseheads...but thank you for rubbing in my own ig'orance of the playoff schedule. After all, what are friends for:)

    And, Annamaria, I'm beginning to dislike football too. My cold is getting better, thank you, but now I'm back in your neighborhood shivering along with the rest of NnnnnYyyyyCccc.

    I agree with you both: Grandchildren are the best thing on earth.