A Thanksgiving Unlike Any Other

Having poured some cold water on the #givethanks premise, I can’t but approach the subject of my own expressions of gratitude without trepidation. Suffice it to say that if I consider myself qualified to assess the sincerity of others, I can’t but invite the same scrutiny. Have at it.

1) I’m grateful that 2020, despite its many disappointments, has opened up so many new doors of experience. I became a college professor. I started writing again. I reconnected with some old friends, and made some new ones. I became a father-in-law. I was a podcast guest. I live-blogged the most consequential election since the Great Depression, and hundreds of visitors checked in at some point in the evening. As the world closed, mine started opening up, however slightly.

2) I’m grateful to have learned what I know through adversity. I’m grateful to know that conservatism is a direct-mail grift and a cover for greed, vanity, and racism. As hard as it is to have stared into the devil’s eyes for so long—and the PTSD may never subside—once seen, the truth is undeniable.

3) I’m grateful to have this year with my family. I feel sorry for those for whom their home does not appear to be enough. But I suspect that they aren’t particularly satisfied anywhere they are. If I was a racist COVID-denying Trump voter, I wouldn’t want to live with myself either. I’m grateful for my wife, for whom every day is an exercise in patience and long-suffering. It’s one thing to bear one’s own demons, and quite another to vicariously bear mine at the same time.

4) I am grateful for good and supportive colleagues, and a mission I can believe in. I’m grateful to have a purpose beyond being a patsy for someone else’s vanity projects. I’m grateful that the benchmark for respect is my personal character, and not my willingness to believe—much less parrot—whatever lie or cover story is being imposed as a loyalty test. I am grateful not to be manipulated.

5) I’m grateful that Donald Trump not only lost re-election, but in these polarized times he lost decisively. I’m grateful for the knowledge that the lawyers working for him are grifters, losers, and flakes. I’m grateful that after many years of enduring nearly constant lies, I know what they sound like and can act accordingly. I am grateful to know of the singular danger the Republican Party and Trump voters pose to the safety of my family and the nation and grateful for reserves of endurance that mean we will never, ever give in to it.

6) I’m grateful for my education, even if it largely came from institutions later corrupted by power and greed. Without the knowledge I learned from them then, I might not have known what I needed to know to reject them now.

7) I’m grateful for my family, all of whom were generally more aware of the pervasive threats to our personal and societal well-being over the last few years than even I was. I am grateful for their superb discernment of ongoing threats, and their willingness to make sacrifices to keep us safe. I am grateful for the unity that has come with unshakable knowledge.

8) I‘m grateful for those few hearty companions who have endured with me through my journey. Rest assured, I know who you are and also what you have been through. I’m grateful for friends who have also demanded better from me—who challenge me, encourage me, and make me think. But more than anything else, I’m grateful for the friends who make me laugh.

9) I’m grateful that of all things to pursue, truth remains. I have seen—and suffered from—the corruptions of wealth and power. I have experienced the emptiness of expressed loyalty. Words are particularly cheap—America’s corrosive deluge of thoughtlessness, insincerity, and lies threatens the very premise of human communication, much less the foundations of civil society and government. We are only in the first inning on this one. Trust me—you’ve seen nothing yet.

10) I am grateful for the people who poured into the streets in 2020 to protest racial injustice and hatred. It is well overdue. I am grateful for those who express outrage—yes, outrage—at Republican fascism, as outrage is the only possible proportionate response. I am grateful for the millions of Americans—many of them white and safely ensconced in the suburbs—who resisted racial demagoguery and authoritarian impulses to bring down a tyrant. I am also grateful, in a strange way, to those honest about their attraction to fascist impulses and racial dog-whistling, such that they are easily identified and we can separate ourselves from them.

And as we part on this Thanksgiving Day, I offer the blessings of the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Frank Sinatra:

Here’s the last toast of the evening, here’s to those who still believe

All the losers will be winners, all the givers shall receive

Here’s to trouble-free tomorrows, may your sorrows all be small

Here’s to the losers, bless them all

Frank Sinatra, Here’s To The Losers (1964)

Bless us all, especially the haters and the losers. Amen.

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