No doubt 2020 has unloaded a mountain of things to lament, but despite the tribulations of biblical proportions, the gratitude is easy to muster if you look. Here’s what made the worst year bearable or even pretty amazing for me. Chime in.
I’m thankful it’s not my job to keep track of and record the votes of city council members during their virtual confabs on their imitation Zoom broadcasts every other Monday night. That excruciating job falls to City Clerk Susan Barkman, who watches city council members, holed up in home offices, mouthing incomprehensible “yesses” or “noes” on frozen-frame screens or no screens at all. “YES! YES! YES! YES!” local lawmakers yell into their laptops, while only those outside the virtual meeting can hear them. For the love of what’s left of our nerves, frayed by the pandemic and trying to keep up with the mega-motions and pithy punches local lawmakers virtually fling at each other until the wee hours of the morning, make these people hold up big green signs with YES and big red signs with NO. I know I, and endless others, would be very thankful.
With so much to do and fret over, I’m thankful for dark, strong, bitter, highly caffeinated coffee. Every day. All day. Late into the night. And cream.
I’m thankful that, so far, there has yet to be a run on cotija cheese, and that no one at my house goes near it but me.
I’m thankful I’m still optimistic that my eating disorder, now ratcheted up to appetite anarchy, will ebb, and my serial stress eating will become serial stress walking and I will exit the pandemic svelte and perky. Probably not a surprise to you that I thought cow tipping was a real thing.
I’m thankful that our breath is contaminated with the new coronavirus and not our flatulence.
I’m thankful I spend my life in a community where you go to the grocery store and regularly encounter people from every part of the planet, who speak more languages than there are types of breakfast cereal, who wear clothes rarely seen in this country outside the United Nations, buying things most Americans can’t even pronounce, and nobody thinks anything about it.
I’m thankful my wife is sticking it out with me, despite the fact I heard her telling the neighbor that what little time I spend at home with her consists mainly of morning discussions over coffee about what we’re going to argue about for the rest of the day.
I’m thankful that although I work in an ailing industry at a job that’s so abusive I’m pretty sure it’s against the law, at least once a day, someone calls, writes, texts or posts an acknowledgement of what journalists are doing right now, and often, even gratitude.
I’m thankful that my months of COVID-19 hypochondria have so far been just hypochondria.
I’m thankful to the amazing Russian dude at my 7-Eleven who seems happy and endlessly friendly no matter what’s going on and never judges me when I buy three pints of ice cream and lottery tickets at insane hours.
I’m thankful I still take great joy in laughing at my own endless stumbles, gaffes, and blunders. Except for the bat-colony-and-caulking thing. That wasn’t funny.
I’m thankful I live in a state where the governor makes Twitter jokes about not being able to interact with man-sized penguins because they became extinct long before humans evolved. “We missed meeting giant penguins (Anthropornis) by a mere 33 million years. Are you as disappointed as I am?”
I’m thankful no one on my endless Zoom meetings can see the short pants I’ve lived in since March.
I’m thankful squirrels don’t live very long and often meet tragic endings, hopefully the one that ate the black krim tomatoes this summer I left on the vine just one more day so they would be perfect. I know who you are, and I saw what you did.
I’m thankful for skiing. Always.
I’m thankful I raised a kid who loves fart jokes, drag shows, ballet, hiking, tacos al pastor and Young Frankenstein.
I’m thankful all the people from Texas, Florida, California, Ohio and Iowa who’ve moved here don’t drive their grocery carts like they do their cars on I-225.
I’m thankful I still think it matters that the expression is, “for all intents and purposes,” not “for all intensive purposes,” that police cannot charge anyone with anything, that in newspapers, people do not “pass away” or “depart,” they die, and that animal control agencies do not “euthanize” healthy, unwanted dogs and cats in shelters, they kill or destroy them.
I’m grateful to all the people who don’t make enough money to live on while toiling at all the places I shop and eat at ,even though they are some of the riskiest jobs in the world during a pandemic. And I’m thankful so many teachers and medical professionals go to work every day despite the enormous risks to themselves and their families.
I’m thankful that despite the pandemic, the wild fires, the economic disaster, the incivility, the Trump calamity, the fight against reversing racial and social injustices, and the mass insanity about what’s real and unreal in the news and social media, that I didn’t have to help my kid with her math homework, too.
I’m thankful, more than anything else, that, after four years of suffering under the Trump regime, I never gave up or gave into crazy notions that he’s not that bad, or that any good he and his cronies and accomplices did could ever outweigh his fetid malevolence, dishonesty and racism. And I’m thankful that more than half the country is just like me, and that as a nation and a planet, we get another chance.
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