By Sam Burnham
We spent the week leading up to Thanksgiving in the Charleston area. It was a typical Iron Skillet Travels style getaway. Our base of operations this time was too notable to not get it's own special post. Oh it wasn't a luxurious spa, a stately plantation mansion, or a re-purposed cotton mill. No this one is quite special in its own way.
The managing editor found this little gem on Airbnb. It is located in the Shem Creek area of Mt. Pleasant. It is a recently renovated duplex and we we're staying in one side. The other side appears to still be in the renovation process but there was not a single minute that any work there disturbed our quiet or relaxation. The neighborhood is in a bit of a transition with most of the homes either recently renovated or in the process. The work seems to be following a traditional theme. It is tasteful and lovely. The "main drag" through that part of town features local business and restaurants. It is probably much busier during the summer season but it was a The location is very convenient to downtown Charleston, Sullivan's Island, and Isle of Palms.
The home itself holds a simple beauty. The decor is not overblown or obnoxious as you might find in many vacation homes. While the home is not huge, it was plenty big enough for our tight-knit group of five.
In the living area there is cozy furniture and ample lamplight for an evening read. The window shades allow for a view of outside or privacy. There is a large television which we used to catch most of the Georgia game. But most of the time there was spent reading, planning, or relaxing.
The bath is small, as is the entire unit. But the use of a shower is a good optimization of space. You see shelving and a sink with vanity. Plush towels and tasteful decor are definitely a nice touch. Again, small and simple but adequate and realistic.
The bottom sash of the window is frosted to offer privacy. But the window can also be opened to allow the fresh fall air to come if on a November evening.
The outdoor areas offer a bit of home away from home. There is a small but adequate backyard where the boys got to enjoy some fresh air and at least one time throwing a ball around. I already mentioned the picnic table on the patio which we dined at a few times. There is a charcoal grill as well. On Saturday evening you could hear others along the street enjoying grilling and games - nothing bothersome or out of the way, just a friendly and festive neighborhood atmosphere. That seemed to enhance the backyard that evening.
The front yard is dominated by an oak tree surrounded by a mulched area. It is a welcome sight after a long day of touring the area. The front porch is screened in and offers some lovely vintage seating. It's a great spot of an evening of porch sitting.
Overall, it is a beautiful stop. We loved the simplicity, the comfort, even the closeness of it all was nice for a family holiday outing. This is an excellent choice for a small family or perhaps a couple. Comfortable and convenient.
By Sam Burnham
I want to talk about Thanksgiving. I mean the holiday and the expression. In recent years Thanksgiving has gone from a an actual holiday, to the official beginning of the Christmas season, to a mere speed bump between Candy Day and Materialism Month, featuring Consumer Claus. We don't talk about it, don't think about it, don't even stop to consider it. Throw out the pumpkin, put up the tree, let's go shopping.
Oh, everyone is still going to eat. There will still be turkey and dressing (did y'all know there are folks who strain the giblets out of their gravy? Just learned this yesterday myself.) There will still be sides and deserts aplenty. There will still be football and talking politics with your uncle and all that. But will there really be any thanksgiving at Thanksgiving?
As consumerism continues to consume this land and consumers become the consumed, there is yet greater and greater demand. There is the eternal striving for increasing abundance. Everything will never be enough, there will have to be more. We must have more, bigger, better, shinier, and more elaborate on our mission to convince ourselves that we are filling the hole within us with the right stuff. Maybe if we get enough of the stuff we'll finally be happy.
But no matter how much there is, it is never enough. The things we have to have never make up for the lacking of significance. There is never any contentment. Without contentment there is never gratitude. Without gratitude there is never thanksgiving. Without thanksgiving, that famous Thursday meal in November is just a celebration of gluttony and abundance.
We think of contentment as a type of surrender. We aren't striving for more because we are lazy or scared or incapable of doing "better." But we never ask ourselves the reason we want more. Is there a reason for it? What is the actual need we are trying to fill? Is it an actual need or just a passing desire?
With a week to go before the Thanksgiving holiday arrives, let us take inventory. Stop with the hustle and look around. Think about health, wealth, security, happiness. Do you have these things? Look at family, friends, faith, hope for the future. Do you have these things? Rather than looking up to the more fortunate to drive your desires, look back on the less fortunate to allow yourself some gratitude. Don't make it about seeing yourself as better than them. Make it as "but for the Grace of God go I." Because that is reality.
We are so blessed in this country. Yet we are living in turmoil. We fight over political power, cultural slights, we fight over fighting. Our problem isn't our differences. Our problem is we lack thanksgiving because we lack gratitude because we lack contentment.
Take a week. Think it over. celebrate thanksgiving, not just Thanksgiving.
By Sam Burnham
There is still stirring in this land a movement that is dedicated to the annihilation of anything that resembles anything traditionally Southern. The movement is hellbent on the destruction of every icon, symbol, every person, anything whatsoever. There must remain no morsel of anything that would suggest that the South had ever been anything more than a carbon copy of the North, but with barbecue - and even that must be acknowledged as racist.
And so we see the current all-out assault on General Robert E. Lee. for over 100 years, Lee has been understood to be one of the finest men this nation ever produced. He was a gifted engineer, a brilliant military tactician, and is also remembered as finishing his life as an educator, beloved by his staff and students alike. He has been honored by American presidents and foreign dignitaries such as Winston Churchill. His tactics are still taught at West Point. As far as his personal integrity and honesty, you'll find no leader in contemporary American politics who can match him. An honest reckoning of his life will prove him to be far more honorable than the majority of his modern detractors.
As a fair and honest assessment of the man Lee must address slavery, I have to say that he was not a "kind" or "benevolent" slaveholder. I say that as I don't believe there is such a thing. There is no way to kindly refuse rights or personal liberty to another human being. The greatest evil in slavery was not the whip. The greatest evil in slavery was slavery itself. It was wrong for Lee to own slaves, regardless of how they were treated. But we must also judge Lee on the morality of his time and not that of our own time. We must look at him with our vision and see where he was right, where he was wrong. We must take that information with the willingness to honor the right and progress our society past the wrong.
There are accusations of treason being attached to him. Yet at Appomattox, where he offered his sword, no such accusation was extended. In fact, no Confederate - politician, officer, enlisted, or civilian would be tied with any such charges. Only Henry Wirz, the immigrant scapegoat of Andersonville, would be convicted on serious charges related to the war. Today the government admits that Wirz was railroaded and his execution was uncalled for, perhaps even criminal.
No, Lee was not a traitor. While we live in an age that subscribes to the "one nation" myth of the United States, "The Union" as we know it now was born from the Civil War. Antebellum men, especially Southerners, understood the importance of home, your state, your friends and neighbors. "The Union" is the same nationalist sentiment that Donald Trump supporters are often labeled with. Lee refused to take up arms against his neighbors, against his family, against his own home. Virginia did not secede until Lincoln had called for states to provide troops to invade and subdue the South. And Lee did not join the south until Virginia had seceded. Contrast this with men like Montgomery Meigs and John C. Fremont, who willfully participated in the killing of their fellow Georgians and the destruction of their property, and I ask, who was the real traitor in this situation?
But here is the endgame in all of this. Lee is not the goal, he is just one more moving of the goal post. 12 months ago, such an open assault on this man would have been thought as odd. But the leftist, anti-Southern movement has reached Lee. Next it will be Washington, and then Madison - and with him, the Constitution he wrote, and Jefferson and the Declaration. It will all have to be updated, properly cleansed of anything "offensive." It is a constant creeping to remove anything American from American history and replace it with what the left wishes for America to become. It is the pig Squealer on the ladder in the night changing the creeds on the barn wall. four legs good, two legs better. It's propaganda. It's lies.
Yes, Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was not perfect. In fact, he had one really big flaw. But he remains a fine example of a historic American. He's one we should look to for an example, one we should honor, one we should defend.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire