Daily Update: Thursday, November 26th, 2015

John Berchmans and Thanksgiving

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint John Berchmans, Religious (died 1621). And today is Thanksgiving Day.

Born in 1599 at Driest, Brabant, Belgium, the son of a shoemaker, and one of five children, today’s Saint had a great devotion to his position as an altar boy. He spent much of his time caring for his mother, who was in poor health. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1616, deciding to become a Jesuit after reading the life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, and was a student at the Jesuit College at Malines before going to Rome to study philosophy. John had a dream of helping and teaching multi-lingual migrants, and he studied all the chief languages of Europe. He wanted to work in China after ordination. He died of unknown causes following his participation in a public debate defending the faith, and while clutching his rosary, crucifix, and rules of his order; he did not live to be ordained. In 1866 a novice at the Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, near the point of death, had a vision of Berchmans in which he assured her she would survive her illness and become a nun; this miracle was one of the ones that contributed to his canonization in 1888, The nun’s room at the Academy is the only shrine at the exact location of a confirmed miracle in the United States. He is the Patron Saint of Altar Servers, Jesuit scholastics, and students. Turning to our secular holiday, the precise historical origin of the holiday of Thanksgiving is disputed; although Americans commonly believe that the first Thanksgiving happened in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is some evidence for an earlier harvest celebration by Spanish explorers in Florida during 1565. There was also a celebration two years before Plymouth (in 1619) in Virginia. There was a Thanksgiving of sorts in Newfoundland in 1578 but it was to celebrate a homecoming instead of the harvest. By the mid 20th century, the final Thursday in November had become the customary day of Thanksgiving in most U.S. states. It was not until December 26th, 1941, however, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after pushing two years earlier to move the date earlier to give the country an economic boost, signed a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday and settling it to the fourth (but not final) Thursday in November. The holiday is commonly celebrated with a large dinner featuring roast turkey, celebrated with one’s family and extended family.

Last night I finished reading my November 2nd, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. And our New Orleans Pelicans in an away game beat the Phoenix Suns by the score of 120 to 114.

While I was sleeping at along 4:00 am (give or take an hour), I somehow scratched my right eye. I woke up at 8:00 am and posted to Facebook that today is Thanksgiving Day, and found when I was going to take my blood pressure that the batteries had died in my blood pressure monitor, and that we were out of AA batteries (Richard had used the last two for our thermostat). I put out the flag in honor of the day, and ate my breakfast toast and read the Thursday papers. My contacts were bothering me, on account of my right eye, so I opted to wear my glasses today to rest my eye. I then did my Bathroom Devotional Reading and my Internet Devotional Reading.

Richard and I left the house at 10:00 am, and went over to Ken and Lisa’s house to say hello to them and to Callie and my granddaughter. We then went to the Hit-n-Run, where I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing, and at Dollar General I purchased an eight-pack of AA batteries.

We arrived back home at 11:15 am, and found Michelle in the kitchen working on her stuff. I posted two items to Facebook: one was a link from CNN that the hardest way for terrorists to enter this country would be as a refugee (so we should not fear welcoming Syrian refugees), and the other was a Thanksgiving item from today’s Annie’s Mailbox, which I will copy here:

“Things to Be Thankful For” (Author Unknown)

Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.
Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.
Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means that you are employed.
Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.
Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.
Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.
Be thankful for the lady who sings off-key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.
Be thankful people complain about the government, because it means we have freedom of speech.
Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means you’re alive.

I then ordered a Black Ice screen protector for Richard’s Galaxy S-4 from Amazon. At 1:00 pm Richard, Michelle and I had Thanksgiving Dinner (Cody did not have to work, but was at his mother’s house). We had roast turkey, real mashed potatoes, canned sweet potatoes, dirty rice, Michelle’s green bean casserole, brown and serve rolls, and (for me) jellied cranberry sauce. I then put my new Black Ice Screen Protector on my Galaxy Note 4, and at 3:00 pm I made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday.I then burned to CD the photos from October 2015 for myself, and burned to CD the photos from October 2015 for Liz Ellen. I tried calling Nedra, and left a message on her voice mail, then watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm. Richard has now gone to bed, and I will be following soon after him.

We have no Saints to honor tomorrow, but tomorrow is Acadian Day and Native American Heritage Day. Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week, with tomorrow and Saturday being the second and third days of the Heavy Business Volume Day period for the Thanksgiving holiday. On my breaks I will continue addressing my Christmas Cards. Tomorrow evening our LSU Women’s Basketball team will be playing an away game with Purdue, and our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the LA Clippers; I will record the scores of the games in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Our Thursday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Stan Berenstain, American author and illustrator of children’s books. Born as Stanley Berenstain in 1923 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on his first day of class at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941 he met Janice Grant. They often went to the zoo for drawing exercises, where they sometimes sketched bears.  He served in a field artillery unit in World War II and, later in the war, became a medical illustrator. After their marriage in 1946, the Berenstains embarked on a joint career as cartoonists as Stan and Jan Berenstain, eventually becoming regulars in the Saturday Evening PostCollier’s and the Saturday Review. Their first book, titled The Berenstains’ Baby Book (1951), derived from their experiences raising their first son. In 1956 they began a popular cartoon called It’s All in the Family, featuring seven captioned drawings on one page, which ran in McCall’s and Good Housekeeping magazines; periodically they would publish collections of cartoons from It’s All in the Family, which continued until 1989. After an editor suggested that they give children’s books a try, they struck on the idea of a family of bears, but it took two years of tweaking before they could please their editor at Random House, The first Berenstain Bears book was The Big Honey Hunt, published in 1962; Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, edited the first 17 books in the series, advising the Berenstains on drawing, character and rhyme. In the years since that initial effort, the Berenstains never ran out of topics for their bears, ranging from bad dreams and teasing to jealousy, fear of the dark and even the question of God. Pitched primarily toward children ages 4 to 8, the books introduced vocabulary and gentle moral lessons. The Berenstains launched spinoff books for children ages 9 to 12 and a series in which their cubs are detectives, or “Bear Scouts.” Two subjects that never entered the child’s dreamland of Bear Country were divorce and death. Berenstain and his wife often produced 10 or more 32-page books a year, not all of which were met with glee. Some critics objected to the traditional, old-fashioned family structure, with a bumbling woodworker father and a stay-at-home mom who finds solutions to the problems her sweetly wayward cubs stumble into. Others claimed to see encoded political messages in Papa Bear’s lethargy. The husband-and-wife team wrote and illustrated approximately 250 books about the bears. More than 260 million copies have been sold, and the Berenstain Bears branched out into two television series, videos, stage musicals, toys, cereal and other products. Berenstain and his family managed the entire enterprise by themselves until 1997, when they hired an employee to run the computer. Since Berenstain’s death, the Berenstain Bears have been continued by his wife and sons (died 2005): “We’ve gotten unkind letters complaining that we are emasculating the men in the family. The absolute truth is that Papa Bear is based on me.”

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