Thanksgiving dinner. We gather around the table, its knees buckling beneath turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes and a vast casserole collection and macaroni and cheese and ham and biscuits and pumpkin bread and desserts too numerous to name. Strands of steam tickle the chandelier. Bowing our heads, a prayer of gratitude rises with the aromatic steam and a blessing is asked. Then, one by one, orderly as a convent, each person takes a turn stating what he or she is thankful for.
Blah, blah, blah. We're all thankful for our families, and our homes, and this opportunity to gather together, and a juicy turkey and Aunt Alma finding her teeth this morning. Diners suffering the torture of delayed gratification set off contagious yawning before anyone's even injected his gut with gravied tryptophan covered in cranberry sauce.
Every year I wait for someone to lower the boom. What I would give for one of my brothers to bust out with, "I'm thankful for the hooker on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Stewart Street." Then add, after everyone has either thought, Yeah, I'm thankful for her, too, or I can't believe he said that in front of his mother, "She's my signal to turn left on Beauregard Boulevard." It would sure shut up mopey cousin Molly, who, every year, sighs heavily and says self-absorbedly that she can't think of anything.
In a family like mine - a family in which five concurrent conversations and more than one monologue crest and crescendo, sink and soar in absence of the common rules of social discourse - this is the one, the only, chance, for a full 12 months, to be heard. The sober Thanksgiving thankfulness soliloquy is the annual moment when all ears tune in to you. I say make it count. Make Uncle Edgar wish he hadn't fallen asleep, egregiously lulled by droning voices of somber gratitude for the obvious: a good job, a good wife, good health.
Dig down deep. Even in a year when national economies are tanking, protesters are pitching tent-cities in public spaces, unemployment figures are holding in the double digits, and the dishwasher is broken, there's plenty to be thankful for; enough to call dibs on mopey Molly's turn, too.
While bringing attention to blessings foundering in foul-smelling feculence is entirely acceptable for someone secretly planning to unshackle himself from the family, you might consider a less caustic but as equally unexpected blurb. A few suggestions:
I'm thankful for the clanking and creaking noises in the mechanics of my car. People notice me.
I'm thankful for the wobbly wheel on my grocery buggy. It gives me compassion for those who struggle to stay on the straight and narrow path, always fighting against whatever pulls them off of it.
I'm thankful for the hole in my underwear. I've been frugal.
I'm thankful my dog has fleas. They're not on me.
I'm thankful for the low balance alert on my bank account. Low means I still have a little money in it.
I'm thankful for the goopy handle on the syrup bottle. Someone made pancakes.
I'm thankful for stepping on chewing gum in a hot parking lot. It reminds me to stick with things, even after the fun is gone.
Whatever you choose to say doesn't have to shock like praising the Maker for hookers on the corner. Offbeat and unusual are crowd pleasers, too.
But if you get the notion to publicly delight in thankfulness for your mother-in-law's shrill voice that precedes her arrival in a room, alerting you to hasten out, go ahead. Make it a Thanksgiving the folks will never forget.
Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson, GA. Email Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her web site, www.IfMama.com.