Thankful

I knew I’d need a lot of optimism to get through today’s Thanksgiving, the first holiday away from my family. So I pinned my hopes on this year’s annual “Turkey Confidential” with Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Every year, listeners call in with their turkey catastrophes (there’s always that one person who forgets to remove the bag of giblets from the bird), and Casper talks them down from the ledge with her well-informed, practical culinary advice. Guests on this year’s show were to include, among others, Garrison Keillor from “A Prairie Home Companion.”

I was pretty psyched until I tuned in to discover dead air–a technical difficulty. Well, I thought, at least there’s still turkey. This year I’d heard they’d be serving a smoked bird with traditional fixin’s and pie for dessert.

The food was garbage. The turkey was stringy, the stuffing dry, and the gravy was made from a powder mix. Not much can be said about canned corn, either, but the half a sweet potato wasn’t bad, and I ate it , skin and all. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I gave away my slice of pie–cheesecake, actually.

Conversation at the Christian table was quiet and nostalgic. One guy reminisced about his mother’s deep-fried turkey. Another man was excited to see his family in January, their first visit in four years. I didn’t say anything, just sat and chewed with my head down.

Then I grabbed my radio and went for a walk to clear my head. A beautiful fall day. On NPR, they were interviewing a man with slurred speech who was dying of some terminal disease–depressing shit–and the doctors had just given him two years to live.

So then I switched it over to American Family Radio to hear what the Christian conservatives had to say. It seems they never run out of enemies–liberals, democrats, environmentalists, foreigners, science, technology, the ACLU, homosexuals–someone’s always trying to destroy the American Family. Today’s villain was some hospital in Georgia that had decided to forgo their annual nativity scene. THe host called the hospital administration “a bunch of bigots.”

I wonder if the cheesecake was any good.

In keeping with my decision to be optimistic, I later sat down and thought about all of the things I have to be thankful for: my family for their unconditional support, my friends for sticking by me, for my health, the food in my belly, and for not getting the maximum twenty years.

I think back and wonder what I would have been thankful for two years ago: my job, apartment, car, money. Youth and freedom would not have occurred to me. I didn’t know what those things meant back then, but I do now. And maybe this new appreciation is another thing to be thankful for.

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