Am I really gonna do this? I’m a gonna write that hackey, played-out “30 days of Thanks” Thanksgiving blog post that wore out its welcome with saccerine sap a decade ago?
You bet your cornucopia centerpiece stuffed with warty gourds I am.
Because why not? It’s 7:27 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. I’m literally the only human in the newsroom. The scanner crackles every few seconds with paramedics dispatching for diabetic problems and angina.
Lousy teams have been playing lousy football all day and I can’t seem to motivate myself to watch Scorcesses’ latest ode to gangsters and hitmen. And even though my Twitter game is on point tonight, it’s like killing a tight 5 at the Comedy Store at 3 in the afternoon.
So, you know what? I’m going cliche. I’m going full-on, spirit of the holiday, gosh I’m grateful for everything. Blessings, prepare to be counted.
Parents 2.0. Yeah. I’m starting with the obvious and greatest of my blessings. The story of this lowly paragraph stacker probably takes an ugly turn without the east Des Moines couple who took me in after my parents died. Mom 2.0 has this wonderful gift in making absolutely anyone feel welcome and loved. Dad 2.0 is quiet and thoughtful, traits I admire and wish I emulated better. They are also the most efficient humans alive. By this time tomorrow, the entire house will be decorated for Christmas.
Paul the accountant. Such a dry wit. We shared a lot of stress this year. Work and personal. It makes it easier to have a friend. Everything is made easier with a friend like Paul. The only problem with our friendship is he lives in Memphis and I live in Des Moines. One of us should fix that.
Randy Evans. The greatest Iowa newsman any of us I ever know is also one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Our weekly lunches are fuel in my belly and brain. Fun fact: About a third of my best stories this year were fed to me by Evans. He’s that good. He’s the grandfather I never had. (He’ll get that joke.)
There are so many friends. Tyler, Lew, Yvonne, Aric, Kathie O., Mimi, Todd, Andrew and Aaron all shared good days and bad days with me. I owe a debt to a lot of friends to whom I fell out of touch with in 2019, for reasons varied and inexcusable. But I think every one of these people who challenged me, who encouraged me and who let me know that unconditional love is real and they were going to give it to me whether I deserved it or not.
The Doctors. No, not “Doctor Who.” This time. Nor the crap syndicated TV show. I’m talking about the medical team that keeps this sack of malfunctioning meat and bones moving forward. There’s my therapist, who asks I not name him because of the work he does with public safety officials, who always takes my emergency calls and keeps my brain on track when the distance between my emotional reaction and intellectual reasoning gets too wide. Dr. Barlow who slings my mental health meds and talks movies with me on our periodic check ups and whose TMS therapy has relieved major depression multiple times. And Drs. Basener and Shulman. The former is my internist who stays positive that I’m not going to die within the year even when I’m sure I am. The latter is a sports medicine doctor who suffers from terminal Detroit Lions fandom who keeps my knees and back loose.
And where would I be without Nate Yoho? Do you know I first talked to this man on one of the worst days of his life: his wife’s funeral. He’s grieving the loss of wife to brain cancer with a child on the way without ever having been around kids and starting a business. You know what? He’s my hero. I’ve gained and lost a couple people in weight over the last five years, but Nate is always, always, always pushing me to do movement, to keep improving. This year was marked with terrible injuries and slow recoveries, but when I finally got back to Nate, I knew I was going to get better even if it hurt a lot to do it.
The people and moments in pop culture that can always make me laugh when I’m down: “The Germans” episode of “Fawlty Towers,” “The Big Lebowski,” Taylor Swift music, the Beach Boys and the Pickle Rick episode of “Rick and Morty.” It’s good to have go-tos when the sun always seems like it’s setting. These are mine.
I great for a pop culture bandwidth that allows me the enjoyment of Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” and Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” without having to worry about petty disputes bout which is serves a higher purpose. All I ask from my art is that it interests me, entertains me or challenges me. It need not do that all at once or with every frame, but if I like it, that’s enough of a standard for me. I’ll save the all-time rankings and reviews for some other kind of review.
The renaissance of Fred Rogers. I made the mistake of thinking that because he hosted a children’s program, his lessons ended at childhood. But the reality is he was ministering to all of us. Paying attention to the life, love and discipline of this man gone from this earth 16 years has helped me rethink my position on faith, allow myself to be more vulnerable and consider the value of silence in this noisy world — and sometimes in my noisy mind.
For Dani, Sarah, Drea, Kandas, Tammy, Vans, Travis and the rest of the crew at Jethro’s BBQ by Drake. It’s my haunt. It’s my place to sit in public and keep to myself. I’m always welcome. The pop glass never goes dry. Whether I bring a guest or come to flip through a book or magazine over cheap wings, it always seems like the right place.
I’m thankful for for a gig stacking paragraphs and hopeful, as always, they’ll keep me on for another season of sentence slinging. I’m thankful for the small, but loyal group of people who read my typing. And I’m thankful I can still grow and change, evolve and awaken, continue to move forward in my goal to embrace kindness.
With a little help from my friends.
With love and hope, dpf