Let's Hear It For the Boy

Sunday, November 25, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

My personal family-of-origin tradition regarding thanksgiving revolves around the break taken after the turkey day meal, but before we indulge ourselves in devouring the awaiting rice pudding and chocolate mousse.  In my family, we go around the table and say what we are thankful for from the year past.   It can be intense.  Often, upon honest reflection of your year in front of your family, there are tears.  There are also laughs and most importantly, the process of being honest together and sharing thanks and love as a group creates a tangible family bond.  A feeling of closeness across a group that allows such raw emotions, mostly hidden in our public lives, to exist and be heard in a non-iudgmental way. It is a gift.  

This year I spent thanksgiving as the outlaw in a large group of my in-laws (both my wife's mother's and father's side of the family joined together for the epic feast).  All up, there were 23+ of us across four tables.   One huge turkey and two hams.  We did not (and i, in this case, am thankful) go around the tables and say what we were thankful for.  

Pre-wives (my brother and mine), my extended family, at its most extended, stretched about 10 or 12 strong.  In general, the jews have not been blessed with long and thriving family lines.  While the ultra-orthodox may be fruitful and multiply as much as possible, modern jewish families don't tend to have kids as if they were trying to stock their own minor league farm system.  I digress, but all of this is an extremely long-winded way of saying that being surrounded by such a huge number of family members was a bit daunting going in.  I'm pleased to say that the experience itself, minus all the ham, was communal and accepting and jovial and a lot of fun. 

But, as you can probably already tell, this blog is about having "missed out" on giving thanks.  the guilt of it.  The lapse in this purging tradition.  i must have satisfaction!

but here is the crazy thing.  i didn't go to facebook to say what is meaningful to me (which many others did).  I didn't even give my 140 characters of thanks on twitter.  and, when i thought about it more, i didn't really feel like giving thanks this year. 

I immediately hear my inner Jewish grandmother saying (not unlike Kyle's mom on South Park), "What what what what!/!/  Not thankful! Have you ever heard such a thing! *spits on the ground twice* You ungrateful meeskyte!" 

So let me immediately clarify.  It is not, in the slightest, that i do not feel thankful.  Quite the contrary, i feel almost a soul wrenching amount of thanks for the sheer luck that has provided me with a virtual unending number of possibilities.  What i do not feel this year, is whatever motivation or impulse that leads us to purge ourselves by making a public declaration.  

Now, if you were to ask my family, they would tell you that this is incredibly unusual. I am a bit infamous for my semi extended-cut thank you's.   I don't think i'm the longest per say, but I definitely feel like i have a pretty high average length.  As i said, I feel incredibly thankful on the whole. 

But this year, im just not feeling it.  And i think it mostly has to do with the perseverance that brought me to this thanksgiving.  The past year I graduated out of a miserable graduate school experience, and walked away with both my doctorate and my integrity.  While it has taken the following 5 months, i have also begun rebuilding the tower of joy that used to reside inside me before the wrecking-ball of graduate school took its toll.  And the new tower not only comes equipped with all of the integral friendships of the previous version, but now it also has the bling bling feel of luxury created by a newly minted loving wife, two ferociously adorable doggies, and the freedom of forging my own path.  It's super hype yo.  

And this year I, with my partner in crime, threw a flipping fantastic wedding (best wedding ever?), which captured both our love and our zany giddiness for getting a forever together.   And in pulling off this colossal party, almost every pillar of strength in my life (both literal and metaphoric) were tested for structural integrity.  Through the danger of some pillars' crumbling foundations, i was forced to choose which structures were worth fighting for, with the knowledge that collateral damage was a certainty.   Some pillars fell on me.   But these battles became less about the wedding we were trying to have, and more about the man i wanted to inhabit.  the principles i wanted to live my life by.  

And, come this present November, I am thankful to say that I am proud of both the wedding, and the skeletal decisions I made in laying down the framework for my married life.  

So perhaps, upon reflection, my muted impulse to sing the songs of my thanks, has more to do with the fact that this year I am thankful that I persevered.  I am thankful i walked and ran and crawled and clawed and was carried and then still kept on moving forward until this moment.  This present of pregnant possibility and no game clock.  I am proud of myself, and thankful to be a person i am proud of.  And, while i play a wonderfully ego-maniacal narcissist online, getting up in front of my favorite people and being thankful for myself isn't really my thing.  

Unless you consider that I am a product of all those people and puppies who care about me.  Which I do.   And then, in essence, i am just being thankful for everyone around me.  Which i am.   And if i follow this rationalized line of reasoning, i can almost flip myself through the mental gymnastics necessary to take myself to the precipice of declaring how eternally thankful i am for my continued persistence and overall kicking of life's preverbal ass this year.  

But as i hear the words form in my head i immediately let out a reflexive, "WHAT a friggin dickhead."  And i decide that i'm more than happy to just wait for next year.  

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