Once again, we’ve reached Thanksgiving Day.
As a kid, Christmas was by far the biggest holiday of the year. Easter would have been second, but it lost out to Halloween because even though both involve lots of candy, you had to get dressed up and go to church on Easter. Oh, the Easter Bunny tried to compensate for that by bribing us with chocolate replicas of himself. But with Halloween, you dressed up in a fun costume and then just went out to strangers’ houses and collected candy. Is this a great country or what?
But, the years roll by and the next thing you know, holidays start coming around faster and faster. That’s why, in my book, Thanksgiving has risen to the number one spot. As hard as Christmas tries to overshadow it, Turkey Day remains a no-gift holiday, where you simply gather with friends or family or both and eat way too much. And there’s football on TV, from 9am to 9pm. It’s like I won the lotto!
And even if my wife manages to sweet-talk our crowd into turning off football and watching the first Christmas movie of the season that day, I’m in! I have a collection of 15 or so movies that I must see every year, or it’s not Christmas. Thanksgiving weekend can start with “Miracle on 34th Street” (since it begins with the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day parade), I never get tired of “Plains, Trains and Automobiles”, and then maybe a “Home Alone” or two.
Then I’ve got three weeks to wedge in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the Alastair Sim version of “A Christmas Carol”, “One Magic Christmas” and all the other holiday standards. It’s just a great time of year.
The Christmas season officially kicks off big-time the first weekend of December, but I’ll get into that with you next week. For now and the next 36 hours or so, it’s Thanksgiving.
Being thankful is trickier than it should be. When you go online and start rambling about all the things you’re thankful for, there’s a chance someone is reading it that isn’t having a great year. Maybe they lost someone close to them. And here you are, talking about how much you have to be grateful for–how dare you!
Then, if you don’t say anything, there are those who consider you ungrateful. “What’s wrong with him? Had a bad year?” You can’t win.
Thanksgiving began unofficially when people escaping religious persecution risked their lives to travel to a new land. When you go through something traumatic like that, not knowing if you’re going to live or die or what’s on the other side, you tend to get grounded and be appreciative of the basics.
President Lincoln had to deal with a country torn apart. No doubt it was a big part of his push for a national day of Thanksgiving.
Now, here we are in 2015, getting ready to show our thanks in a world gone mad (while the truth is, it’s always been mad. It just comes and goes.) We have real problems, like what’s going on in Turkey with Russia, ISIS and such. And then, there are the manufactured problems. As I watch hyper-sensitive revisionists declaring war on things because of their victim mentality, I just shake my head and wonder just how far this PC insanity will go. In case you didn’t hear, students up at Western Washington University want to get rid of the Viking as their school mascot because he “represents violence”, while students back at Princeton have decided that President Wilson was a racist and so his name should be completely removed from the school.
I grow weary.
I maintain a pretty crazy, on-the-go schedule, but I do keep reminding myself to just take a look around and appreciate all that I have. Not things, but situations. My marriage, my kids, I have a roof over my head–yeah, I know, there he goes bragging again–but this year, especially, I’m grateful to be able to do what I want to do for a living. For most of my career, I’ve been in that situation, but with someone occasionally sticking their nose in and telling me how to do it. Now, I wake up every day, look at a list of projects, tackle the ones I think are the most pressing, watch some TV, go to bed and start all over the next day.
Just a moment ago, while writing this blog, my ventriloquist buddy Mark Merchant called me from Cabo. He wanted to make sure I got the notes on three upcoming gigs he has. After this, I’ll sit down, look at the notes and start writing jokes. Yeah, I get to do that.
A year ago, I rolled the dice and quit a job, hoping it would all work out. It has. I’m grateful for everyone’s support, for the clients that hired me and for every single person I stay in touch with. If you hear from me during the year via Facebook, email, a phone call or we manage to actually pull off a coffee or lunch, it happens because you are among those I care about. I appreciate your friendship and right now, would just like to say thanks for being a part of my personal E-ticket ride on this earth.
My Thanksgiving wish: that everyone reading this blog sits down to a bountiful feast tomorrow, bows their head and quietly sends out a group text to everyone at the table, saying “Happy Thanksgiving!”