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by Lionel E. Deimel


So many holidays for this and that—

But most are just a time for recreation,

Not opportunities for celebration

Or contemplation of their origins.


Who gives a thought to Martin Luther King?

He’s on our minds his day like any other,

When seldom do we think who is our brother

Or bother reaching out to those in need.


We see a baseball game on 4 July—

We sing our anthem, watch the color guard;

But Revolutionary thoughts are hard

To mix with scorecard, chili dog, and beer.


The labor on our minds on Labor Day

Is but our own that we don’t have to do.

We must instead to summer bid adieu

With picnics for a special few, or bed.


Ah, Christmas is a special time of dread—

That deadline of the frantic shopping season

Through which we march for half-forgotten reason

That escapes us fully when the day has come.


Thanksgiving, though, is different from the rest—

We gather in our family and friends;

We stuff the turkey and each person who attends,

And, in the end, how can we not be thankful?



    Live turkey with other food


Anticipating the trip to Chicago to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, I decided that I should not go empty-handed. This was not really the poem I planned to write for the occasion, but that one seemed too hard to compose. The notion that Thanksgiving is somehow observed with more sincerity than most holidays quickly led to the poem above.

I was perhaps freer with rhyme and meter here than I sometimes am. That can make it hard to figure out how to read some lines that are thereby rendered unpredictable. The last line is a case in point. The first comma could be construed as purely grammatical, or it could be taken to denote a real pause. The word “can” or the word “not” could be given emphasis or not. I suspect I may read the line differently on different occasions. The idiom in the second line of the last stanza is “gather in,” by the way, as in “all is safely gathered in,” which should be obvious by the time one gets to the end of the line. “Family,” of course, has three syllables.

The poem was written on November 18 and 19, 2002.

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