Today is Thanksgiving in these here United States. The tradition began in 1620 with the Puritans, a self-righteous lot who crossed the ocean, landed over 600 miles north of where they were supposed to land (Jamestown, Virginia), and promptly starved. Some local Indians taught them how to farm and held a harvest feast to celebrate the fruits of their first harvest. The Puritans gave thanks by running them off and accusing anyone who looked funny of witchcraft. (Hmm… That sounds more like Halloween than Thanksgiving.)
Thanksgiving as we know it today was first proclaimed by George Washington, who was very thankful that the country he helped found hadn’t disintegrated. Yes, even Washington had to put up with idiots who wanted to secede because they thought democracy meant “I always get my way.” Lincoln made it a permanent decree near the end of the Civil War, thankful that the Civil War was coming to an end. Franklin Roosevelt finally fixed it to the calendar: Thursday of the fourth full week in November.
In Canada, they have Thanksgiving, too. Only they do it slightly differently. Theirs is in October, which makes sense, since, like November, it’s a harvest month. They also do theirs on Monday. That also makes sense. In America, however, the fourth Thursday system has given rise to our most sacred of institutions: The federally mandated four-day weekend. W00t!
Unfortunately, it’s also given rise to Black Friday: A holiday in which retailers dupe consumers into camping out in mall parking lots and torture their employees with low-pay and outrageous hours. This is why I work in IT. I only have to go in if something blows up, and often I can fix it over teh Intrawebs.
The reason for all the madness is we are in an orgy of gratitude. We are thankful. So thankful that we gorge ourselves on the flesh of a rather stupid bird (Sorry, Ben Franklin) and pass out in the living room from a tryptophan overdose while watching bad football. The Canadian version of all this is roughly the same, except Canadians can pass out watching Monday Night Football. Hmm… Maybe FDR should have rethought that one.
So what are we thankful for?
Well, I am thankful for to be married to Nita. Valentine’s Day will be the fifth anniversary of our first date. June, 2013 will be our fifth wedding anniversary. To say we had a whirlwind romance is an understatement. A week before our first date, I was sitting in a Chicago hotel room contemplating starting over in the Windy City as a single man. After all, Sean Chercover lives there. Marcus Sakey lives there. JA Konrath lives there. I knew all those guys. BigHugeCo has a presence there (ironically with an IT department started by the guy who hired me to work at Medishack.) But there was this cute blonde I met while doing standup, and I wanted to meet her for a drink. The only day we could meet was Valentine’s Day. Love at first sight? It does happen. Has it been easy?
Nothing worth having ever is.
Except bacon. And ice cold beer.
I am thankful to live in America. Which is not to say I wouldn’t be happier somewhere else. But we just had a election where the most violent thing to happen was the barrage of ads that hit swing states. Most of us became familiar with our bathrooms, our refrigerators, the DVR, and the mute button. There was no military coup. The only places we see trucks full of soldiers rolling down the streets outside of a natural disaster are near military bases and in parades. Things aren’t particularly great here, but after every election, we always have a handful of idiots who get mad that their guy lost and threaten to move to Canada (They don’t want you) or to secede (Most of us in your state want to stay, and anyway, it’s illegal. Ask Lincoln.) All I have to say to those folks is, “The borders are clearly marked on any map. Don’t let the border patrol hit you in the ass on the way out.” The fact is if the worst thing to happen to you is you have to pay taxes, you live a charmed life, particularly if you make enough money to whine about it. You can go where you want, say what you want, and believe what you want. Me, personally, I am thankful that technology allows me to turn off morons with microphones simply by avoiding the entire AM band on my car radio.
I am thankful for my health. Sure, there’s a lot I have to deal with: Weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, joints that are aging faster than the rest of me. But every year I make a little more progress. I hope to close out my forties healthier than I did my thirties. I can run. I can bike. And every year, I cut a little more out of my diet that years ago I would only give up at gunpoint. Pizza no longer holds sway over me. I actually find fast food somewhat repulsive. Not giving up beer, though. That’s just crazy talk!
And if I can’t, I’ll still chase Nita around the old folks home in my walker or my wheelchair.
I am thankful for technology. Technology is how I am able to still write. Technology is how I stay in touch with old friends. Technology is how I make my living. There are those who bemoan technology driving a wedge between people. I’ve noticed those people tend to be those I don’t want to deal with in person.
Computers and the Internet opened up a whole world of opportunity for me. Because of it, I never would have become a programmer. I doubt I ever would have made any serious stabs at writing.
Besides, where else could I find pictures of cats, pilfer George Takei’s online photos for Facebook, or watch endless hours of videos MTV refuses to show these days?
And where else can I get free porn?
I am thankful. All in all, I have a good life. Not a perfect life, but perfect does not exist. I’m thankful I figured out that simple truth.