Ah, another Turkey Day come and gone. Fun, festivities and family all fed and fattened on a farrago of feasts and football.
But, jiminy, there was that one awkward moment there, woo boy, where silence gripped the dining room and the assembled looked on agape in confusion. And, no, I’m not talking about Uncle Virgil’s tradition of burping “Over the River and Through the Woods.” No. That always brings rousing applause.
No, I’m speaking of that horrible, affected instant where we go around the table and all have to share what we are thankful for.
Oh, sure, it seems easy. “I’m thankful for good food and good family.” Pshaw, old hat. And true, most have no problem choosing a favorite grace to acknowledge.
Papa Alston has his backgammon and his Quicken program. Maw Maw extolled the virtues of her Sleep Number mattress and her industrial hemp garden. Cousin Ira claimed that he was thankful for an inept legal system and jurors who were “as ignorant as dirt.” Dad mentioned his Weather Channel, Mom her I-heart-Dachshunds Web Site. Grizelda couldn’t stop praising the gals in the quilting circle, commenting on how they’d brought new life to her otherwise dull weekends. Mackie just repeated the usual, albeit sincere, refrain about roadying for Neil Diamond. Aunt Samantha said she was thankful for her sugar daddy in Bakersfield. John-John went on a slight rant about how he was thankful to live in a world where the Red Menace was nothing more than a laughable dream kept alive by crackpots and zany extremists but we humored him nonetheless. Moira bashfully enthralled the table with a Thanksgiving ode to my special prescription which has kept all the gals at the office inquiring as to why she finds it hard to keep anything but a smile on her face every other Monday. The kids, Jake and Maxine, both chimed in about how lucky they were to live with the best parents children could ask for and how happy they were to finally get a PS3.
But I? I? I paused, reflected, pondered, reached deep into the recesses of my very psyche. What was I thankful for? What could I possibly say that would bear any truth, any weight, any meaning?
That I was grateful for my life, my health, my friends, family, loved ones? That I was thankful people were finally beginning to question the cost in both economic and ecological terms of SUVs? Was I most thankful for my Heroclix, my Hello Kitty plush toys, my autographed Salinger? Did I most cherish peace, tranquility, honor, courage, my Russian-Lithuanian heritage? Could I honestly say I was most thankful for my Ernest DVDs, my stock in Apple, my frozen seafood business or my collection of vintage letter openers?
What accomplishment moved me most? That I finally beat my addiction to Pez? That my walk-on in the touring production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” elicited standing ovations from Phoenix audiences? That Salma Hayek at long last returned one of my calls?
What could I say? What could I mention? What nugget of gratitude could appease my kindred’s appetite for this age-old Thanksgiving tradition? My rare blood type? White Zombie? A decent hair stylist? The fact that I can still get into my high school cheerleading uniform? My extra spleen? The speeding ticket I avoided by pretending to be narcoleptic? My original Pollock? That bug zapper I got for Father’s Day? An extended line of credit at Williams-Sonoma? That I’ve collected over ten thousand signatures on my petition to have the new punctuation mark I created, the Quipple, accepted by literary circles around the world? The fact that the stiffness has finally gone out of my fedora? My panda slippers? That back issue of “Millie the Model” I finally came across? The framed photo of me and Ban Ki-moon? That I’ve finally finished my Broadway musical entitled “Up The Attic!” based on “The Diary of Anne Frank?” That my eczema has cleared? My prehensile toe? The fact that I managed to get Hannah Montana tickets?
Dammit, I couldn’t choose! So, I sat there, idiotic, dumbstruck, while inertia gripped by mind and everyone looked on like my chest had erupted in a quivering mass of alien parasite.
Then, suddenly, Banjo the dog very audibly passed gas and the spell was broken. “I’m thankful I don’t have a sense of smell!” I cheered to the delight of all.
And, with that, we tucked in, making the most of a turkey-shaped tofu and black bean concoction we in the MacMillan household have dubbed “Turket-Me-Not.” Sadly, there’s no tryptophan loginess like in the real thing, but we were all pretty darn satisfied by the time Shiloh started up his annual Scattergories tournament.
Anyhow. Hope your holiday was good too.