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Thanksgiving has crept up on us once again, meaning for most of us a glorious time of celebrating, giving thanks, food, fellowship, friends and family over the next couple of days.
Maybe so, but maybe not.
The American Automobile Association has predicted the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a decade this year with frustrated and impatient motorists spending as much as four times longer than normal stuck in traffic along our nation’s highways while growing angry, violent and occasionally demonstrating to others the true meaning of road rage.
More than 54 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home for the holiday with around 90 percent of them going by car.
With most of that travel expected to occur on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, AAA previously offered a suggestion designed to combat this potential problem.
The travel group recommended to avoid much of the projected congestion motorists should instead plan their travel on Thanksgiving Day and the Friday or Saturday afterward.
Normally that would sound like a great idea except for one minor detail.
What if most of the 100 million or so people hearing about this plan chose to heed the same advice and hit the highways in droves on those days?
I don’t mean to sound skeptical, but anyone ever stuck in a major traffic jam on Interstate 95 for several hours, especially around Washington D.C., would fully understand.
Further transportation woes to consider are the 4 million Americans who will be traveling by plane over the holidays or the fact gasoline prices for thanksgiving are expected to be the highest they have been in four years — about 40 cents per gallon higher than in 2017.
We have all seen that iconic image of the Thanksgiving meal as depicted in the 1943 Saturday Evening Post magazine cover painted by artist Norman Rockwell showing a family seated around a dinner table preparing to dine on turkey.
While it’s a great picture, the image could be slightly deceiving, mainly because all the people shown are smiling.
Wonder what they’re so happy about?
It’s a good thing the portrait does not come complete with sound, as we would likely hear guests complaining to each other about the economy, ex-husbands, ex-wives, in-laws, outlaws, children, parents, grandparents, neighbors, bosses and co-workers, among others.
Things could get even more complicated or unbearable if subjects like athletic teams and allegiances, religion, politics, gender, race or other sensitive issues get tossed into the mix.
Most discussions on those topics seldom end well under any circumstance, so what better place to get into a heated argument than over Thanksgiving turkey with friends and family in attendance?
Yet, that would be no worse than hearing about others’ ailments, surgeries, drug prescriptions or costs, doctors, doctor bills and hospitals.
(You might not believe it, but others really don’t want to hear about your medical situation.)
The biggest difference between the folks depicted in the Rockwell portrait and those of today is since the advent of cellphones, very few people under the age of 30, or even older, care anything about listening or talking to their elders or anyone else for that matter unless through a mobile device and even then not with actual spoken words.
Most grownups are the same way.
Our nation’s first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.
Following that event, one might have expected the tradition to have taken hold and continued strongly the next year.
Despite numerous attempts by many to have Thanksgiving Day recognized, it did not receive its official holiday designation until 1863, a mere 242 years after it was first proposed, when President Abraham Lincoln did the honors.
It was actually 78 more years after that in 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress officially fixed Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday in November.
No one knows why it took so long, but my guess is those at the first event probably had enough of each other by the time the meal was over and didn’t feel like ever doing it again.
Despite the potential drawbacks, though, Thanksgiving does have its good points.
It provides enough leftover turkey for us to enjoy sandwiches for about two weeks, serves as the unofficial beginning for movies playing on TV like “Christmas Vacation,” “A Christmas Story” and a few others and provides a good starting point for seeking out homes with the tackiest Christmas decorations, something that is always fun each year.
Keith Barnes is a reporter and columnist for the Johnstonian News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.