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Being Thankful ... Sort Of

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

 

            It’s been a particularly challenging year, and I wonder if the main thing we should be thankful for is that it’s almost over.

            My home was the scene of more medical mysteries than an episode of “House”, most of the country suffered through a drought, every city whose name starts with “New” got hit by a hurricane, the economy was a sad joke, and our politicians are too sad to be a joke. It’s always a good idea to avoid saying things couldn’t get worse, but surely they could be better.

            On the other hand …

            Look, it’s Thanksgiving week. You’re supposed to find things you’re thankful for, right? Like flowering plants (which I always kill), and kittens (I’m allergic), and bright, sunny days. (Did I mention the drought?)

            But look at it this way: My wife went through so many separate medical conditions in one year that maybe we could get funding for a study. Surely there are federal funds for that – there are federal funds for everything. If Washington can pay for the study of the migration pattern of red winged Delaware tree frog larvae, they can throw a million or so in our direction. I’ll bet my sinus infection that there’s a department just printing out checks for that stuff.

            And sure, there was a drought, but that means most places didn’t flood. There’s still plenty of water: It just happens to be somewhere else. With so many out of work, why doesn’t the government train a bunch of people to lay water pipelines across the country? Works for gas and oil.

            New Orleans? Still standing. Maybe this latest hurricane will convince officials to finally just move the whole city: Take the whole thing, lock stock and cemetery, and place the population somewhere safer. In other words, above sea level.

            I know what you’re thinking: That’s a lot of taxpayer money, Mark. Yes, it is … but that would be the last time New Orleans levees would be a problem, and when hurricanes do hit that area, we can pipe the water to dry states.

            Politics? Well, the President’s reelection was a disaster or a blessing, depending on how you voted. If things continue to deteriorate in this country, he’ll be there to blame; if things get better, he’ll be there to credit. Either way, some people are happiest when they have someone to complain about.

            I guess it’s all a half-full half-empty kind of thing, where you have to decide if you want to spend all your time complaining about what you don’t like, or being thankful for what you do like.

            Most of us choose to complain. Maybe the best thing about Thanksgiving is that it forces us, just for that one day, to think about it the other way.

            Then comes Black Friday, and we can start complaining again.

            To Native Americans, Black Friday was pretty much every day after they realized the newcomers weren’t going to play nice. And they didn’t even get a half-priced TV out of the deal.

            But even in that there’s something to be thankful for, at least for me. If the Cherokee people hadn’t been kicked off their land, some of them wouldn’t have escaped into the Appalachians to avoid the Trial of Tears. If that didn’t happen, one group of my ancestors would never have met my other group of ancestors, Irish who also headed up into the Appalachians. To this day some of my relatives have black hair with red strands, and a temper.

            I suppose talking about Indians isn’t the most politically correct subject when discussing Thanksgiving, but still. Here’s what I’m thankful for:

            Emily, who married me this year and is going to do it again next year, if we can swing the cost. Maybe we’ll make it a tradition.

            My relatives who had multiple medical troubles and came through the other side. I mean the good living side, not the “go to the light” side.

            Getting a short story collection published; it hasn’t exactly been a best seller, but just being published beats the odds.

            Living in a country where I can criticize the government, and face nothing more than being unfriended on Facebook. If someone in a dark suit knocks on my door in the middle of the night, they’re probably just the late shift passing out copies of the Watchtower.

            Reality TV, which gives me an excuse to turn off the television and read a book.

            Books.

            The list goes on and on, and does indeed include flowering plants and kittens. I may not be able to have them in my house, but I can at least look at them … which goes for a lot of things in life, come to think of it.

            So cheer up for a day, and give thanks for the good stuff. For instance, you may not like winter, but at least there won’t be any campaign ads. Talk about thankful.