No Columbus Day In Columbus

Today is the day that has been pre-marked on your calendar as “Columbus Day.”  It’s a federal holiday, so federal offices and courthouses will be closed.  But here in Columbus, Ohio — named for the explorer who discovered the New World, where a huge statue of Columbus is found outside City Hall — city offices will be open, and the rest of us will head into work like it’s any other workday.

150px-columbus-ohio-christopher-columbus-statue-2006-tightColumbus city government offices traditionally closed for Columbus Day, but this year the city decided to change its approach to the holiday.  Last week the city issued a short release saying that its offices would be open today, and the offices would close, instead, when Veterans Day is celebrated next month.

By taking that action, Columbus joins a growing number of American cities and states that don’t officially celebrate Columbus Day.  Many cities and states don’t recognize the federal holiday because of Christopher Columbus’ brutal and horrific treatment of the natives he found when he reached the New World, and instead celebrate Indigenous People’s Day or Native American Day.  The City of Columbus says its decision wasn’t taken for that reason, but rather because the city just wanted to recognize and honor veterans.

Notwithstanding the City’s press release, I suspect that the changing view of Columbus and what he did played at least some role in the decision to take a new approach to the holiday.  I’ve got no problem with revisiting the approach to Columbus Day — which never has been really widely accepted as a holiday in many workplaces, including mine — just as I have no problem with the decisions in many towns and cities to remove Confederate statuary.  Columbus was initially seen as a heroic explorer who rejected the flat-earth theory and braved the unknown to discover America.  Now we take a more complete and rounded view of his record, and recognize that he knowingly committed terrible atrocities and killed and enslaved the gentle natives he found on his voyages.  A Google search on the subject will find lots of articles like this one, entitled “Top 5 Atrocities committed by Christopher Columbus.”

So why in the world should we celebrate this awful person who has his own “Top 5 Atrocities” list by giving people a day off, just because that was done in the past?  We can recognize Columbus as the historical figure who apparently reached the New World first, while also acknowledging that his treatment of the indigenous people was unconscionable — and that Columbus, the man, just isn’t worthy of a holiday.  As for celebrating heroes, I agree with the Columbus city government — let’s celebrate our veterans instead.

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Gargoyle Spirit

Russell’s dog Betty needs to be walked, so we took her for a stroll around the neighborhood on this cold, bright Christmas morning — and discovered that even the front stoop German Village gargoyles are getting into the holiday spirit.

Guest Batch

We have family coming in for the holidays, so I’m whipping up some cookies for people to nibble while we sit around and catch up on what everyone has been up to during 2017. I’m therefore making my favorite cookie — Dutch spice cookies. I like the brown sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg/clove flavor, which says Christmas to me, but they’re also fun to decorate. You can put anything from M&Ms to decorators’ sugar to nuts on these cookies, and they all seem to go perfectly.

Treeless

I suppose you could argue that anyone living in a place called German Village should be required to have a Tannenbaum, but Kish and I have never had a tree here. My Grinch-like attitude is that, while Christmas trees smell nice, they’re really too much of a hassle to bother with unless you’ve got kids at home and lots of presents to stash under the boughs. I should add that the one memorable year when the family dog couldn’t resist trying to slurp water from the tree stand and repeatedly knocked the tree over, crushing ornaments that had been treasured heirlooms, crumpling presents underneath, and leaving the family room in our old house strewn with pine needles and glass shards, undoubtedly influenced my anti-tree sentiments.

But even if you don’t have a hulking, rapidly dried-out green object in your living room, you can still be festive around the holidays. Kish is good at adding the little touches that remind you that Christmas is just around the corner. Some snow-dappled pine cones, a Santa-themed holder for holiday cards, a few poinsettias and strategically displayed individual ornaments, and voila! –you’ve captured the Christmas mood.

And no risk of dog-related incidents, either.

Merry Christmas (Ale)!

Every year, beer lovers in the Midwest wait impatiently for the delivery of the Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale, in the same way that credulous seven-year-olds wait for Santa Claus — with a mixture of fervent belief and outright greed. Every year, Great Lakes delivers a delicious, spicy concoction that is designed to make the holidays more merry.

This year’s version, which I happily quaffed at the Olde Mohawk this afternoon, does not disappoint. Even Ebenezer Scrooge would savor this brew!

At The Holiday Pinch Point

It’s 10 days before Christmas, and it’s time to make some important decisions.

Not about shopping.  If you haven’t done your shopping by now, you may as well wait until the very last minute and become one of those pathetic, lost wretches who makes a mad dash to the stores on December 24 and hopes to find something decent for the people on your shopping list (which I can attest from personal experience can be done, mind you).  No, I’m talking about decisions about eating.

holiday2Already I can feel the clothing growing a bit, er, snug, and the holiday parties and open houses and receptions are only now beginning to appear on the calendar in earnest.  We’ve tried — really, really tried! — to be sensible and good about our consumption, but already we’ve been tempted by, and succumbed to, chocolate-covered nuts from the Pacific Northwest, and some of the very best brittle you can imagine.  Delectable home-baked cookies, and delicious trifle, and pies, and pound cake, and candied almonds, and bowls of irresistible red and green M&Ms, and God knows what else have appeared before us and vanished down the gullet.  About the only thing we’ve been able to successfully resist is fruitcake.

And now the clothing is sending us a message, and we’ve got a decision to make:  (1) get all of the Christmas goodies out of the house, immediately, defer any further confectionary consumption until the Christmas meal itself, and thereby try to stay in reasonable fighting trim until the holidays are behind us, or (2) give up the ghost entirely, have a roaring good time at the remaining parties, go all in on stuffing ourselves with the foods and drinks that make the festive times festive, and vow to really address that waistline after New Year’s Day.

You know, I’ve heard that January is really a good time for losing weight, because you end up burning calories just to stay warm.