Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it has been for a long time.
It goes back to my dislike of the commercialization of Christmas. Even as a kid, I always felt a bit overwhelmed by Christmas. I am not an organized person. I am also not the kind of guy who can make a list of things I think people want or need, and then walk into a store, find those things, and then give them as gifts. I need to see something in a store — or a market, or wherever — and be inspired to give whatever that is to that person. We shouldn’t need a holiday around that.
So I am on the side of those who work to bring the real meaning of Christmas back to the season. Keep fighting the good fight. I’m just going to be over here with the Thanksgiving people, eating some turkey and mashed potatoes, sitting on the couch.
It may also be worth pointing out that there is no other holiday that comes close to Thanksgiving. Fourth of July? Halloween? St. Patrick’s Day? They’re all special, they all have their own thing. But by design, they’re not memorable.
Thanksgiving almost always is.
Part of the deal is that, unlike other holidays, there is a constant: food. We eat turkey, we eat green beans, peas, carrots. We eat salad, we eat bread. We eat dressing and cranberry sauce. We eat rolls and biscuits and gobs of butter and rivers of gravy. There is pie and cake and maybe cookies.
Sometimes there are just burgers and soup and waffles. I spent the Thanksgiving of 2002 in a Waffle House in Pennsylvania, driving my belongings from New York City to Little Rock after my first marriage failed. Snow whipped outside and I was virtually alone in the Waffle House. I had just come off the loss of a state-wide campaign for governor in Arkansas, where I was the field director.
At first glance, it might not seem like I had much to be thankful for, but I was. I was thankful to have a family to go home to. I was thankful to even have enough stuff to fill my dad’s pickup truck (and the U-Haul trailer I’d rented behind it). I was thankful, and on that cold, lonesome Pennsylvania night, I was as happy as anyone else on Thanksgiving.
It’s been an interesting fourteen years since then, mostly good. Much has changed, and most of it is for the better. Of course, some things don’t change, or at least not a lot.
Once more, I am on my way to being divorced.
But I am still lucky. Duncan and I get along really well. She has the kids this year (I have them for Christmas; the whole thing flips next year), and has been nice enough to invite me over.
I am grateful for that.
The thing I am most grateful for is my children. They have provided a clarity and focus to my life I never thought possible. They make me want to be a better dad. They make me want to be a better man.
It is Thanksgiving, and I am truly thankful for them. But I am grateful to have these young people in my life every day. They never miss an opportunity to remind me of how smart, funny, caring, and full of curiosity — and hope — they are.
They remind me of my own father, because he is the yardstick to which I hold myself, another reason to be thankful.
Not everyone has what I have. Not everyone has a family, or can be with their family. There are those who have spent their lives in real struggle, real suffering, real loss. I am not one of those people. Many of my thoughts and much of my love goes to those people in my city, my country, and in the world who don’t share in that light.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.