“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity; it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” – William Faulkner
Please forgive my reserved demeanor, but in case this caught you unaware, I love William Faulkner. Not sure if he is my favorite author. Toni Morrison may occupy that vaunted aerie. But he is among the elite.
As the United States heads into the Thanksgiving holiday, Faulkner’s words seem especially relevant. After 2020, we need to find some reasons for gratitude.
But can I get an “AMEN” that 2020 reigns as the most deplorable, ghastly, traumatic year in our lifetimes?
There are myriad things to be angry and resentful about in 2020. Here are my headlines…
- Covid-19 killing so many Americans – as of writing, over 254,000 dead. Fucking tragic. Possibly preventable. Nah! That requires a little empathy from/for our fellow humans, and we are too obsessed with our own selfishness to simply wear a damn mask or forego a big indoor party.
- The death of Fact and Truth. Churches, cultish conspiracies, and politicians now define our existence in a daring Reality-TV attempt to resurrect the Middle Ages. Most tribal enclaves on Social Media are now the equivalent of the whipping post in most small 8th-century European towns.
- Shocker! Racism is alive and well. The rednecks and fascists have clawed out of their compounds and hidey-holes. Their Savior, Cheeto Christ, has directly (and worse, indirectly) given them a primetime platform to brandish their white nationalist dreck.
- Denial of our global climate crisis has reared its head many times. By last count, at least 4,000 hurricanes hit the US this year. We are now using the Aramaic alphabet to name them. The entire state of California was reduced to ash and rubble. But the oil is flowing, baby!
As Faulkner shows, we sometimes need to dig deep to find our gratitude – “produce” it. Equally important is “discharging” it. Using it. Showing it.
Can you imagine if people Tweeted a few more kindnesses to each other? Better yet, FaceTimed each other?
With Thanksgiving on the doorstep, gosh darn it, maybe I can be part of the solution this year.
Thanksgiving. My erstwhile favorite holiday of the year.
A day where we blithely ignored the attempted genocide of an indigenous people by rapaciously gobbling the food that they taught us to make. The best.
As with almost everything in 2020, Thanksgiving is now another in a string of fattening meals. A choice opportunity to nap away this dull lockdown existence in a combined carb coma and tryptophan buzz.
And while we continue to socially distance from our loved ones out of fear of plague-born death, enjoying our Zoom dinners, and acting like it’s all just so fucking grand, I will try to be grateful.
No. Dammit, I will be grateful.
In fact, I am going to take it so far as to emulate Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, where he delivered the Eight Beatitudes. I know! Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, but c’mon, man. I’m a sinner. Any little shoutout to the J-man might bridge the distance between Limbo and Perdition when I croak.
Therefore, and forsooth, for 2020, I will deliver unto you, my faithful invisible reader friends, my Four Gratitudes.
The very thought of writing eight of them after a busy work week makes me shudder with dread and exhaustion. Be happy there are four of them. I’m tired. Cue smallest violin in the world.
Gratitude 1: Blessed be My Daughters
I am so grateful my daughters weren’t born with hooves, tails, or scales after my prolific drug binging in my younger years.
Who else feels this way? Seriously, I had an inherent fear that I may have literally altered my DNA from the amount of magic mushrooms and psylocibin I consumed.
Word of mouth, much like Social Media, is truly the worst way to communicate information for several reasons.
First, most of us are gullible as hell. I remember college friends telling me that your body stored hallucinogenic compounds in your spinal fluid. Those substances stayed there until you ejaculated. Totally believed it. Couldn’t masturbate enough.
Second, facts get morphed in translation. Put ten people in a line and whisper “Turkey tastes like an unsalted chicken’s asshole” in the first person’s ear. A scientific fact.
Have each person whisper what they heard in the next person’s ear. By the time the 10th person repeats the phrase, it sounds something like “Turkeys are a cabal of Satanic pedophiles eating the salty assholes of chicken babies.” Think about it.
Third, stories turn into rumors, and rumors spread like a Napa wildfire. Timex Social Club offered us some sage advice about how rumors get started. “They’re started by the jealous people. And they get mad. Seeing something they had. And somebody else is holding.”
Word. I don’t want my knowledge coming from people with that big of a chip on their shoulders! Jeez! …I also don’t want no scrubs.
Gratitude 2: Blessed be My Wife
I am so thankful for my wife. But not in the misogynistically traditional or kinky sexual ways you might instinctively assume.
To begin, I’m grateful for her being a germaphobe. It only took a plague for her obsessive handwashing, bathing in Purell®, and hating eating food off the floor to resonate with me. Never realized what a filthy animal I was.
Also, I’m grateful for her resourcefulness in securing life-saving equipment (perhaps hording it) to keep us safe during the pandemic. She acquired gallons of medical grade wipes from an online dentistry supplier. Nice job, baby. I canceled my root canal last week because I now question if our dentist’s office is sufficiently clean.
We also have enough toilet paper to build a sleeping barracks for Trump’s fascist youth club when we’re forced to quarter them in our home. Don’t be naïve, friends. You know Civil War II is coming. I don’t own any guns. The fascists own most of them. Simple risk-reward equation.
And finally, Christmas. My second favorite holiday. My wife has had our Christmas decorations up for four months. It’s her attempt to inject joy and merriness into our secluded life. I might be just as thankful if one of our tree lights sparked in the middle of the night, burning our house down, consuming us with it.
Gratitude 3: Blessed be My Dog
I am so appreciative for Hairy Kerry. Best dog ever.
First, he has perspective. Sleeping. Excreting. Eating. Pretty simple mantra for life, isn’t it? The problem occasionally arises when he merges those activities.
Because he is a pampered Prince, we always have a pee-pad laid out for him. Sometimes it’s a poop-pad. The other day it was a dining room table as I caught him delightedly munching on a turd like a tootsie roll. So gross.
Second, his one true emotion is love. And not from necessity. He can’t help himself. Hairy appreciates every small kindness and returns it with an adoration that borders on obsession. He is my furry shadow.
Well, I guess fear is an emotion for him, too. Running the vacuum sends him into abject terror. As do thunderstorms. Can’t forget fireworks (although I am convinced it’s our dickhead neighbor, Gary, shooting at his wife again). As do low frequency delivery truck engines, cats half his size, and the ghost of our dead dog, Keely.
Third, he has no guile. There is no hidden agenda, except for sneaking into the kitchen after I prepare a meal to graze my abundant food droppings off the floor. More because I am a slob, and he is a servant to his nose. An animate Roomba®.
Sometimes I drop some medicine merely to see what will happen. Is that bad?
Gratitude 4: Blessed be Electricity
I am especially grateful for electricity. Not the electricity metaphor that Faulkner referenced. No. The real energy coursing through our highly flammable homes. Why?
Here are my particulars…
First, it powers the floodlights in my backyard. This way I can catch that asshole, Gary, sneaking around at night when he crosses over my electric fence.
Electricity also powers my fence so I can teach that fucker a near-fatal lesson to stay the hell off my property. Give me back the damn tools you borrowed three years ago, Gary!
Second, it powers my Interwebs so I can watch all the right-wing fun happening on Parler.com as well as the other ‘Alt’ social media sites. Have you signed up yet? Oh boy. Buckle up.
Figured if nearly 74 million Americans voted for Trump, I ought to see what it looks like when the mainstream “freedom fighters” mingle with the extreme conspiracists. Free speech never looked so anti-Semitic!
Third, it powers the Christmas trees(s) – yes, we have multiple – and all the twinkling decorations my wife has decked throughout our halls. I have curmudgeonly tendencies since I turned fifty.
And though difficult to admit, there is a corner of my black Grinch heart that warms to their gentle glow, and moreover, the loving intentions they represent.
Time for Dessert
Those are my Gratitudes for 2020. Trying to make lemonade from a year of lemons.
We typically have an extended family gathering at my brother’s house every year for Thanksgiving. One of my favorite events of the year. A lot of laughs. An abundance of food and drink. Most of all, a whole lotta love.
Both my parents are under treatment for cancer, so we voted among the sibs and decided the risk outweighs the reward this year. No one wants to say their undiagnosed, asymptomatic Covid killed mom or dad. Not a good look.
The plan is that my one daughter will stay at University with some friends. Too risky to fly her home right now with the Midwest drowning in high Covid positivity rates. My wife and I are having our other local daughter over for a traditional turkey dinner.
Which means kick-ass quantities of leftovers for me in the coming days! Turkey sandwiches. Reheated stuffing. Plus, my wife’s specialty: Brussel sprouts baked in olive oil with parmesan and pancetta. My heaven!
But I am most looking forward to my wife’s homemade apple cake with cream cheese frosting. If the best sex of your life could be converted into a dessert, you would select this dessert 100% of the time.
Our plan is to divide the cake into thirds. And eat it all until we sleep, barf, or die.
Fuck you, Covid. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Let’s open a digital dialogue. Scroll down to LEAVE A REPLY.
I would love to hear your family’s plans for Thanksgiving this year… are you saying ‘screw it’ and gathering – or are you making alternate plans? Thanks!