“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…….” Just before plunging into a Thanksgiving feast, my father would utter these words, followed by a simple prayer, and when finished, his sons and daughters would all say with sincerity, “Thanks Mom!” Since she prepared most of the feast, both before we ate, and after we were drowning in gravy, turkey and stuffing, we would again display our gratitude. We weren’t forced to do it. Rather, we knew we owed her the gesture. And, when the eating subsided, someone would do the dishes. I was always thankful for those suckers. Since I was the youngest, it was preferred I just stay out of the way. No problem.
As a child, those were the days when saying grace and being thankful was so simple. I was truly thankful for my mother, father and food. Later, in the early teens, it became a little more taxing to start thinking about those who don’t have food on the table, a roof over their heads, or someone to do the dishes for them. If you were fortunate like me, you began realizing why we should be so thankful for so many other things besides the side of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. So, as I grew older, the more difficult it became to give thanks before dinner, especially when invited to others’ homes where grace took on a whole new despicable meaning.
I’ve always despised publicly giving thanks on command. After my dear old mom and dad retired from providing the feast, I ended up in the foreign and ungraceful territory of being invited to other people’s homes for Thanksgiving. Always being grateful for an invitation which includes food, I would give proper thanks to the person providing it well before dinner was served. This was an early mistake. In the event that they asked me to openly give thanks at the dinner table, I was out of ammunition. This was especially true if I was the last in line to spew any unoriginal appreciation. Someone before me had invariably already given props to God and Jesus, their dying Grandmother, their children, their friends, their health, their spouse, their disease in remission, their neighbors, their newfound sobriety, or their ability to vaporize themselves exactly when it’s time to help with the dishes. Can’t we just have a moment of silence instead? I know what I’m thankful for, and I don’t give a damn what the guy next to me thinks about what I’m thankful for that particular year. It’s really none of his business. And, I sure as hell don’t give a yankee dime about his moment of thankfulness. Now, add holding my neighbor’s sweaty hand during this fifteen minute unceremoniously pious nightmare. Blahhh. As a good Thanksgiving guest and soldier, I would suck it up and participate for the host, but I didnt’t have to like it, and I probably wouldn’t return. Or, should I say, won’t be invited back, after someone recognizes my eyes rolling or an accidental gasp of misery.
Don’t get me wrong. I am wildly fortunate, and my list of gratefulness could seriously go on, and on, and on, until the dinner gets cold. I’ve also given my traditionally required share of toasts at weddings which went about as well as a Donald Trump eulogy at a Muslim’s funeral. Once, in my early twenties in Reno, Nevada, I attempted to say Grace after several shots of tequila and apparently passed out before finishing. Therefore, people should be thankful I don’t wish to speak publicly.
My wife and I have hosted Thanksgiving a few times, and if someone wanted to pray or give thanks, we let them do it out on the deck with the dogs. I am completely joking. We have never hosted Thanksgiving. Ok, we have, and I have always encouraged someone, besides me, to say grace before the display of gluttony begins. So, in truth, I’m not that big of a T-Day curmudgeon.
This year, my wife and I will be cooking at home by ourselves with the rest of our family: two dogs and two cats. For that, I am thankful. (For the dogs anyway!) Since my wife has to be back to work at the Sheet Metal Manufacturing Plant by five o’clock, I’ll be doing the dishes. For that, she is thankful.