Linton Weeks | WYPR

Linton Weeks

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.

Weeks is originally from Tennessee, and graduated from Rhodes College in 1976. He was the founding editor of Southern Magazine in 1986. The magazine was bought — and crushed — in 1989 by Time-Warner. In 1990, he was named managing editor of The Washington Post's Sunday magazine. Four years later, he became the first director of the newspaper's website, Washingtonpost.com. From 1995 until 2008, he was a staff writer in the Style section of The Washington Post.

He currently lives in a suburb of Washington with the artist Jan Taylor Weeks. In 2009, they created The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation to honor their beloved sons.

Gentle warning: This is a big story about a big nation. My beloved editor, Scott, suggests it can be read as a story and/or used as a living-history resource.

Americans are doers. In the United States today, history is an action word. This is, after all, a participatory democracy, and people are participating in its history by volunteering, crafting, interpreting, re-enacting, re-creating and exploring the old — anew.

Tucked away in the archives of the Library of Congress is a curious set of photos from the first half of the 20th century — animals, mostly kittens and puppies, dressed as people and doing peopley things: baking a cake, holding a cello, getting married.

Of the photos, the Atlantic proclaimed that "their humor and appeal is timeless."

Ah, the Henpecks.

Jokes about a married couple with a domineering wife and subservient husband — named Mr. and Mrs. Henpeck — made the rounds in the late 19th century. She is the strong one; he's the weakling. She reads the newspaper; he does the dishes.

The idea of the "henpecked husband" was social shorthand for underscoring cultural expectations of men and women.

Here are three of the jokes, as told in the 1890s:

The annual heavily choreographed PBS presentation Christmas in Washington has been canceled.

But there was a holiday season in the nation's capital long before the revue and there will be one for years to come.

Every day smart folks make assertions — about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and issues of all sorts. "Our emphatic prediction is simply that Trump will not win the nomination," opined Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com in August. And Clinton "is unelectable due to negative favorability polls nationwide and within swing states," H.A.

Ah, the holiday season: Glad tidings. Comfort. Joy. Pranks.

Say what?

For some earlier Americans, Christmas was the yearly open season for playing practical jokes on other people — filching wagon wheels, turning road signs the wrong way, lighting firecrackers to scare animals. A sort of cold weather April Fools' Day, perhaps to make the midwinter less bleak.

Some of the gags were benign; others brutal. In any case, the tradition of holiday high jinks goes back, way back before the founding of the country. Here are the 12 Pranks of Christmas:

Contracted by the government between 1880 and 1896, photographer Levin C. Handy documented the construction of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill.

Despite what you read in some history books — such as the Biographical Dictionary of Congressional Women — Rep.

Time was in America that stores routinely closed on Thanksgiving Day. Folks sent Thanksgiving greeting cards, people donned odd costumes and schools and communities staged elaborate parades and Thanksgiving pageants in which Native Americans and Pilgrims gathered together and smiled and waved.

These days it seems like the holidays are running together — at least commercially speaking — when Halloween masks start popping up around Labor Day and Christmas trappings are for sale in the stores before Thanksgiving.

In the stores it feels sort of like Hallothankshanachristmasgivingween.

But the jumbling of holidays is not exclusive to contemporary times. Turns out that people all across America used to wear costumes on or near Thanksgiving, which effectively created a mash-up of Halloween and Turkey Day.

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