I am conflicted about the great American mishmash of traditions around this time of year now colloquially termed "The Holidays." On the one hand, I love a good feast, hanging with family, and some time off as much as anyone. On the other, I am depressed by the raw consumerist havoc represented by Black Friday and the gift-wrapped garbage aftermath of Christmas Day. To deal, I sometimes veer off into ranting. More constructively, I like to retreat into the comforting arms of anti-consumptive media.
My family, on both sides, has some roots in Appalachia. My paternal grandfather grew up hard in Memphis and went to college in North Carolina; my maternal grandfather grew up hard on a small farm in eastern Tennessee. I grew up pretty easy in the suburbs of Baltimore, but my mother's cooking, taste in music, and at times, her accent, retained a strong affinity for the South. We had a book on the shelf growing up, Foxfire, with an all-text cover promising coverage of topics including "hog dressing, log cabin building, moonshining . . . and other affairs of plain living." It was one of the first editions, with big type and grainy black-and-white photos. I probably read it a dozen times.Read More