Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Giving of Thanks

In the off chance that you missed the interminable cavalcade of parades, Peanuts specials, Christmas music formatted radio stations, garland streamed shopping malls adorned with "95% Off" sales signs, and the smell of pine, cinnamon, poultry, and electricity induced house fires, we've officially entered the annual holiday season. As is requisite for the last several years, I indulged in Thanksgiving dinner with my uncle and his girlfriend. It should be noted that my uncle is the only Republican in my family (not including my aunt's husband, though he is only related by marriage, not blood, so he doesn't really count). Thankfully, he doesn't vote (neither does my aunt's husband, interestingly). It should also be noted that, like me, he has an annoying tendency to believe he is right about certain things and that thinking in a way other than he does is, by sheer force of logic, wrong!

It should come as no surprise, then, that I usually find myself keeping my mouth shut around dinner every year. My uncle tries to be peaceful, and so do I; his girlfriend acts as a pleasant referee, typically taking my side, if not always on the issues, at least in the understanding that my uncle's way isn't typically the only way.

This year I had to sit through a lecture about how Chris, my friend from algebra class, and I didn't do a thorough enough job when we replaced the spark plugs on my car (I didn't even mention to him about the oil in the cylinders, or the cross threaded plug). My uncle can't even commend me for taking initiative on my car, something he has chronically lectured me about for the last dozen years whenever I am forced to run to him for help when my car dies on the side of the road. But that wasn't the worst part. No, I had to sit through a lecture about how Obama is the Antichrist, and how my uncle can't believe that so many people were brainwashed into voting for a black, one term senator with "no experience"! He asked if I had voted for Obama, to which I replied, "Of course! I even contributed $250 to his campaign, and got a campaign t-shirt!" I went on to inform him that Lincoln was a one term Illinois senator before becoming President, and look how he turned out! I'll save you from my uncle's decidedly non-PC response, but when I've said that I'm not the most racially sensitive person in the world, it would be fair to say that my uncle makes me seem like one time NAACP President Kweisi Mfume (I've ALWAYS loved that guy's name, for some reason).

One thing we don't do for Thanksgiving is announce what we're thankful for this year. Chances are good we'd be thankful for things which were diametrically opposed, anyway. But, as I've listened to NPR and watched news clips online, I've been barraged by messages of thanks for everything from having a job, to having a family, to having legs! That last one came from a little girl who was skating at Rockefeller Center in New York.

My grandmother is always encouraging me to be more thankful for things. She says that it helps you to see what you have instead of fretting over the things that you don't. So, aside from having an opportunity to go to college, having a roof over my head, food in my stomach (most of the time), a car that gets me where I need to go (most of the time), and medications which keep me from attempting suicide every other Thursday, what do I have to be thankful for? I don't know... But I guess having legs seems like a good place to start!

Have fun, and keep living life... or some approximation thereof.

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