And if you have American connections, as I have, Happy Columbus Day. It's our last break before Christmas, but Americans have Thanksgiving in November, a huge holiday, even more family-laden than Christmas, so I understand. And then the day after that is Black Friday, black for getting out of the red for deficit. Black Friday is reported to be the biggest shopping day of the year, with the biggest sales and the biggest profits. A counter-movement sprang up a few years ago urging consumers to make it Buy Nothing Day but it wilted. No one paid any attention. Everyone in America shops on the day after Thanksgiving and you can't stop them. Kind of frightening, even more so if you're in the crowds of people fighting for opening-day bargains. But mass consumption like that is truly terrifying . I get queasy now when I walk into a temple of consumerism, i.e. a shopping mall: so much stuff ! Delicious and delightful and beguiling and expensive. It brings on layers and layers of thoughts about consumerism, conspicuous consumption, credit card debt, waste, hoarding, landfills - the whole pattern, or is it a maze with no way out? I'm sorry. I'm thinking too much these days and tend to run off at the keyboard. I should be expressing my very real gratitude for my blessings. We're in something like the top two percent of the earth's inhabitants who enjoy clean water, a measure of safety, fairly good health, some kind of companionship. I qualified the benefits somewhat to allow for shortfalls or deviations. I wanted to say loving family and friends, for example, but that's not always a given, even in the First World. There are no guarantees, not now, not ever. As for happiness, that is so rare that it needs a lot of qualification. I think it was humorist Russell Baker who said, there is as much happiness in a bottle of wine as anyone can absorb, something like that. (I think it was also he who warned never to drink a martini more than 50 feet from your own bed.) The point is, happiness is fleeting and ephemeral, not a constant, not to be taken for granted. Content is the best most of us can achieve, sometimes, if we're lucky. So when I say, Happy Thanksgiving, I really hope so. But think about it.