I had just spent four hours marinating in a cheap, blue plastic kayak with an assemblage of Asian exchange students in frigid waters off Vancouver and couldn’t imagine ever being thankful for anything again. That was my first Thanksgiving.
My second was in Iowa with my then girlfriend’s innumerable family members where I opened a closed — but not locked — bathroom door to face her father sitting on the throne, with his trousers around his ankles and his wife applying makeup before an expansive mirror. I wasn’t thankful and I yearned to be in a kayak in the rain.
Last Thursday I came to terms with the fact that I’m never thankful. And that it was OK to answer the mealtime question of “Thomas, I know they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland, but what are you thankful for?” with: “Actually, I’m from Northern Ireland, but no, we don’t celebrate it there, either. I’m really not thankful and neither are you. We are both, at best, inhabited by a moderate amount of thanks, but are certainly not full of it. That said — I am moderately thankful for my neighbors not securing their wireless Internet. For the Fung Wah bus driving down the price of trips between Boston and New York. For public defenders and tea bags and travel mugs.
For the times you race down the subway stairs because you hear a train and arrive just in time to see it pull away in the direction you don’t want so it doesn’t matter anyway. For dumplings at the Taiwan Cafe.
For eggs that break cleanly when I try to remove the yoke because four yokes a day would kill me. For people slower to say “That’s what she said” than me. For people who think that I’m above it. For witty friends like Rachel who suggest we’d sound much more grateful if we never wrote “T’Giving” but used “ThanksG” instead. For bus drivers who call the stops; for friends who have disabled the chat feature on Facebook; for nonstick pans; for how underwear feels warm straight from the drier; for Gold Bond powder; and that energy can’t be destroyed.
But most of all — that no matter how grumpy I sometimes am on the phone with my parents, they still want to talk to me for longer and can’t wait to see me at Christmas. I hope you had a more than moderately Happy Thanksgiving.
– Thomas Keown is a freelance writer living in Somerville.
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