I'm not going to be online much for the next few days, so here's my holiday column a little early. Happy Thanksgiving!
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
“I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. So I took his shoes. What was he going to do, chase me down?”
I don’t know who said that, but they clearly knew an opportunity when they saw it. It should remind us, this Thanksgiving season, to be happy no one has stolen our shoes … or our feet.
I had trouble coming up with a list of what I was thankful for this year. The old, clichéd stuff is, well, clichéd. My family, my job, my pocket lint collection, my health …
My health? The health thing tripped me up a little, this year. In 2013 I took my very first trip to the emergency room as a patient … and took my wife to her first emergency room visit … and visited my sister-in-law, grandmother, and father after they were all rushed to the hospital. The only time I visited the ER more was in the early 80’s, and that was only because I actually volunteered on an ambulance service.
Believe me, looking down at the cot is way better than looking up.
This year I had two sinus infections and a kidney stone, started getting weekly allergy shots, got stuffed full of meds for tennis elbow (and I can’t even hit a tennis ball), and suffered one of the few migraines I’ve ever had in my life. Then I had to get a heart scan after an abnormal EKG reading and chest pains. I’m on so many medications that the drug company representatives skip the middle man and come straight to my house.
I had to start taking regular aspirin and ibuprofen, and started wearing an arm brace. Then I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Can you believe that? Plantar fasciitis!
Otherwise known as pain from fallen arches. But still … it sounds bad.
But at least I have my health.
Still, when you’re talking Thanksgiving, the first thing you have to conclude is that it could be worse. No, my feet have not been amputated. I haven’t had brain surgery, nor have I been forced to do brain surgery in a disaster situation. I realize that’s an extreme example. Here’s another way of looking at it: I haven’t been poisoned this year, or suffered liver failure, or developed an overwhelming desire to drink human blood.
Believe me, if any of those things had happened, they’d be on the list.
But just because other people have worse problems than yours, doesn’t mean you don’t have problems. Am I to be thankful that I just had a kidney stone? It beats giving birth, or so I’ve heard.
In the end, it all depends on your point of view. I’ve been known to say (usually during winter) that the glass is not half full – it’s half empty, cracked, and slowly leaking.
But I don’t usually feel that way, not really. The truth is – cliché or not – that I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife, great family, an incipient fiction writing career that seems to be taking off, a good job because writing careers aren’t renowned for their income … and I still live in what is, despite the efforts of those in Washington, D.C., the greatest country in the world. Although I’ve heard Luxembourg is nice.
That ain’t too shabby.
For the rest of it? All those aches and pains, stupidity in government, bills, winter? Why, I deal with all that using the one personal thing I really am thankful for, something that has stood me in great stead and gotten me through some tough times:
I’m thankful for a sense of humor.
Some people don’t have that. We all know those people. They’re usually miserable, and a lot of them want to take everyone else down in misery with them. Just as I don’t understand how people who don’t read fend of boredom, I don’t understand how someone can survive modern life without making fun of it.
I mean, come on. Joe Biden’s our Vice President. Joe Biden! You have to laugh at that, or jump off a bridge.
I’m so thankful that I can make fun of politics and not get arrested. And so many other things, too. Imagine how horribly tragic the Kardashians really are if you can’t make fun of them. Reality TV is a danger to our entire civilization, but at least I can make jokes about stranding Congress on a desert island with crates of canned fruit but no opener. Watched over by Jeff Probst, of course.
It doesn’t even matter if other people think I’m funny, as long as I’m entertaining myself. (This often happens when I’m at parties.) I can go to a PETA sponsored vegan dinner and order steak – rare. Everyone else in the room will be horrified, but I’ll think it’s hilarious.
(I wouldn’t actually do that – those people are scary. They look like they’re always on the verge of giving up and biting into whatever flesh is closest.)
The other day I was using a pair of wire cutters, when the cutters broke in half – without cutting the wire. Anyone else might have cursed and hurled the pieces across the room, but I started thinking up ways of working the story into a column. (Which I just did.)
In fact, making fun of yourself is one of the best ways to go through life. (I even make fun of my overuse of parenthesis.)
So that’s what I’m thankful for this year: My sense of humor. Or anyone’s sense of humor, really. The world would, by definition, be a sadder place without it. So cheer up, everyone, and have a laugh. Crying does you no good, anyway.
Oh, and keep an eye on your shoes – just in case.