Giving Thanks

I'm calling out everyone who bitches that we don't need Thanksgiving or the 30 days of thankfulness because "we should be thankful every day." That's true, of course. We should be thankful and remember our blessings every day of our lives.

But human beings are what we are: imperfect. And anything we do every day, see every day, think every day becomes just that: everyday. Normal. Background. We no longer notice the beauty of daily blessings when they are our normal state of being.

The menfolk left Wednesday night after Jimmy got off work, so he could deliver Ian to his father for Thanksgiving (it's his turn) and spend the weekend with the enormous Gillentine clan and with his kids. I have to work on Friday, so I could not go with them. In fifteen years, I have not traveled for Thanksgiving or Christmas. That's the job. I did bake a pie, however, and Jimmy is under strict orders to bring back my pie pan.

I'm not really used to the house being completely silent. Our normal schedule has us on a staggered sleep schedule: Boy is up at 4:30 a.m., home from school at 2:15 and goes to bed by 9:30. I am up at 8:30, work until 5:30 and in bed shortly before midnight. Jimmy is up about 11 a.m., works from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and goes to bed about 4 a.m. So there's always someone up, someone moving around. It's too quiet, and I find myself talking to Isabel the Ghost, who responds with the occasional thump.

I was determined to sleep in very late, which my brain translated to 8 a.m. I told Jimmy I intended to be a degenerate bachelor, just like he is when I go out of town. I live-tweeted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, ate still more turkey leftovers and resolutely sat around in my pajamas. That lasted about 5.5 hours, until I couldn't stand it anymore and bathed and dressed.

I had plenty of work to do, mind you. I have an editing project I'm trying to finish, a writing project I need to work on, holiday cards to make for the etsy shop and I had to program LiteraryUnderworld.com for the Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale. And once all that's done, I'm supposed to record the audiobook for Dreadmire. Me, busy?

So I worked on all that crap while I let a sadly edited version of the Godfather saga play on the TV. Until I realized I didn't have enough photos to make the cards. And I have to work tomorrow. And I'm envisioning the glut of orders I'm about to get.... Okay, I'm hoping to have SOME orders. Shaddup.

That meant going out on Thanksgiving. The only places I could get photos made were Walgreens and Walmart, and I was SO not going to Walmart on Thanksgiving. It also enabled me to grab some more stamps and a gallon of milk. I enjoyed a tasty pancake supper at IHOP, just like the Pilgrims.

To be honest, it was not the horror I expected. Everyone I saw was polite and friendly - extra friendly, warmed by the holiday to hold doors open and say excuse me. Everyone wishing each other a happy Thanksgiving. No horrific lines or snotty attitudes.

I have never shopped on Thanksgiving. I always spent it with my family or friends. And frankly, I was in a bit of a sour mood. Don't get me wrong; a few dear friends had invited me to join their families, and several others I'm sure would have welcomed me. But I didn't want to intrude on them, and I was pretty sure I would be lousy company.

It was a bright spot when I thanked my waitress for being there. She smiled and said she likes the holiday pay. Then she pitched her voice lower and told me they had a king's feast laid out in back for the workers; everyone had brought something in, since they all had to work, and it was a light enough crowd that it was almost fun. I tipped her extra.

David Gerrold wrote today that we could all use a day in which we are reminded to be thankful for family. And he's right. It's the same reason I have never minded Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day or any of the other holidays that some dismiss blithely as "Hallmark Holidays." Because we should remember our loved ones every day, but sometimes we need little reminders. Sometimes we have to be kicked into remembering how rare and special our families are, whether they are families of blood or families of choice.

Two of my friends lost family members today. I can't imagine how hard it is to lose a family member on a day devoted to family. 

I miss both my menfolk. I know Jimmy was looking forward to seeing his family and his kids, and it was good to talk with them by phone. It's also a touch bittersweet to face another holiday without my boy. He's 14 now, and I can count the number of holidays I have left with him on one hand. Then he'll be grown and gone, and it'll be his choice whether he comes home for the holidays. He's still a teenager, so of course he promised he would call and of course he hasn't and of course it's weighing on me even though I know it shouldn't. So yeah, I'd have been lousy company.

Family of blood, or family of choice, it's time we all stepped back from the constant bitching and finding ways to criticize our culture of consumerism and the endless debate over the morality of our choices... at least for a day. We can all go back to skewering the stupid on Monday.

In the meantime, hug your family. Whether you feel like you've said enough, done enough, hugged and kissed enough... you haven't. Give them that extra moment. And give thanks for them.

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