At Thanksgiving, and other holidays that center on family and feasting, it is important to have a hobby. Although I am spending the holiday with people to whom I am not related, I felt it wise to develop an interest that would keep me out of the kitchen, out of trouble, and away from one too many bloody mary. I have decided to study the history of flags. Did you know that the Irish tricolor (slightly droopy in this week of the bail out but normally proudly displaying the green white and orange, the green always closest to the hoist) was gift from the French back in 1848? It was then adopted as the flag of Ireland after the Easter Rising in 1916, some years before Irish independence, proper.
The Union Jack was first in evidence on English ships from the early 1600s, symbolizing what wikipedia tactfully calls a personal union of England, Scotland and Ireland. The Welsh and St David are nowhere on the flag. The flag came to represent a more official ( but no less resented) union in 1801 but was not approved by the British Parliament for this use until 1908. It is the cross of St Patrick that allows the flag-savvy to know whether or not the flag is being flown upside down and back to front.
You may not consider flag history fascinating (and indeed I am not quite sure what flag I have the enthusiasm next to research) but as a hobby it has the following advantages:
1) Flag history can be pursued from the comfort of an armchair with only an iPad as a support tool. This is not the case with Mike’s hobby of ogling at building sites, which he has had to give up for the next few days, being faraway from an urban environment, and in charge of turkey basting.
2) Flag history beats beach combing,kite-flying and surf-paddling, all of which require outdoor clothing, the burning of calories, and intake of fresh air. They are thus antithetical to any holiday ever celebrated by the Crone.
2) Flag history may be dull, but it is more socially acceptable than Mike’s cousin’s habit of taxidermy which is off-putting in a social or family setting. Plus it makes the dogs nervous, and dulls the good kitchen knives. Here, the only thing we’ll stuff is the turkey.