PAT NEAL: The holiday marathon

IT WAS ANOTHER tough week in the news made even tougher by the long Thanksgiving weekend.

For one thing, people are questioning the history, ethics and meaning of the Thanksgiving story.

What was a celebration of pilgrims surviving a harrowing journey to a new land to escape religious persecution in their homeland then sitting down to dinner with the Native Americans who had saved them from starvation before wiping them off the map with a genocidal slaughter, has transformed into a binge-eating marathon combined with one of the worst travel days of the year that has left thousands of victims stranded in snowbanks nationwide.

Then, after celebrating what we have on Thanksgiving, we shift gears quickly to Black Friday, where we celebrate getting things we can’t live without.

Black Friday is a perfect storm of self-indulgent consumerism, mass marketing and media frenzy that, according to the website has left 12 people dead and 117 injured nationwide since 2012.

Then, after Black Friday there was Small Business Saturday.

This is a new American holiday that was created in 2010 to lure consumers into brick and mortar stores to spend any money they didn’t blow on Black Friday or go further into debt with their credit cards.

It should come as no surprise that Small Business Saturday is a registered trademark of American Express. Just a coincidence I’m sure.

Unfortunately, there was no casualty report available for Small Business Saturday in time for this article.

Then we had Cyber Monday, which is the online version of Black Friday where people can go further into debt ordering things online only to have the packages stolen by porch pirates.

These people make a career of following delivery vans from one home to another stealing packages off porches as fast as they can.

News reports indicate one in five packages delivered to our homes is stolen, which works out to more than 25 million Americans having their packages swiped by porch pirates each year.

Then, after Cyber Monday we had Giving Tuesday.

This is a holiday that celebrates the great American tradition of giving to worthwhile causes. Finding a worthwhile cause to donate to could require some detective work.

A good starting point might be to find out how many millions of dollars per year the CEO of the nonprofit group makes annually. If this amount is greater than the signing bonus of a professional ball player it might be best to keep looking for another worthwhile cause to donate to.

Be sure to check with your accountant or tax adviser before donating on Giving Tuesday. With our nation’s new tax laws, your donation may no longer be tax deductible.

It’s been quite a week with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, but I had the feeling we were missing a celebration that was bigger than all of the other holidays put together.

Sunday, Dec. 1, was the traditional opening day of steelhead fishing season.

In years past, when there were steelhead, opening day of steelhead season would have been the biggest day of the year for many of us.

The rivers were full of fish and people out trying to catch them. It gave a holiday spirit to all of the small businesses that depended on these iconic fish.

The hotels were full. Sporting goods stores were selling fishing gear. Even the fish cops cashed in by writing more tickets.

On this opening day the river was dead and empty of people and fish.

I went home and maxed out my credit cards.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal

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