Thanksgiving Ode
Tulsa, Oklahoma
November 22, 2001

I’m thankful for a little red-headed lady known as Mom and the old guy she hangs out with called Dad. I’m thankful for two guys about my age who carry the tag of Brother and all those other nice people who are known by the all encompassing catch-all of Family. I’m thankful to everyone who allows me to hang the albatross title of Friend around his or her neck. I’m eternally grateful for a magical woman who will always be the greatest poem ever written. I call her Wife. And I like her little dog, too.

I’m thankful for the Green Bay Packers, the pickup truck, soft drinks, beer, hash browns (but not home fries) and the Turkey Burger…which means I owe a few kudos to the dude who came up with the hamburger, even though I don’t eat them. Though I like to complain about its merits or lack thereof, I’m secretly thankful for television. The Internet ain’t bad, either.

I want to meet the guy who invented email and buy him a drink and hooker.

I’m thankful for Kerouac, Ginsberg, the entire beat generation, Sylvia Plath’s tears, Norman Rockwell’s sappy but still moving Americana, Route 66 (the road and the song), mystery novels, the History Channel, ESPN, and Dennis Miller.

I’m sending out big love to the electric guitar, the Marshall Stack, the Blues, every manifestation of rock’n’roll no matter how musically lacking, Elvis, country music (even though it ain’t really my cup of tea), Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, everyone they’ve ever influenced, Woody Guthrie, and Francis Scott Key…That’s right, I said Francis Scott Key and while I’m at it I’m thankful for the National Anthem even if it’s musically nonsensical and lyrically arcane. It’s the National Anthem, stop bitching about it and learn to sing it. And then sing the roof off the place no matter how much you may suck as a singer.

I’m thankful for the Interstate Highway system that allows me to cover big chunks of distance and for the smaller two lane jobs that allow me to see a rich tapestry of life slowly. Despite my environmental activism that prompts me to rail against the evils of petroleum products and pavement I think both are pretty cool when I get to jump in my truck and drive back to see my family and old friends for the holidays…though I am embarrassed by my own hypocrisy.

I don’t care if George Washington was a rich guy who never chopped down a cherry Tree, Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite, Abe Lincoln wasn’t pure of heart, FDR was an aristocrat, or MLK was a philandering radical. Name one thing, one thing, just one thing you have ever done in your entire life that matches piloting a dream called America through its infancy, writing the declaration of independence, freeing the slaves and preserving the union, getting us through the depths of the Depression and the madness called Hitler, and forcing a largely racist nation to embrace its rainbow quilt. One thing, I’ll wait. Didn’t think so. I’m thankful for every wonderfully flawed cell in each one of them.

I am grateful that I not only live in a country that allows me to choose to spend my money and my time on things as utterly useless but thoroughly enjoyable as the Frisbee, Lucky Charms, and Twix but that this same country has a political and economic system that granted someone the freedom to come up with things as utterly useless but thoroughly enjoyable as the Frisbee, Lucky Charms, and Twix.

I’m thankful that I live someplace where we’re allowed to criticize the government. I’m thankful for the anti-war protesters I see across the country even though I don’t agree with them because it makes me think we have won. The real vision of our founding fathers was that for the first time anywhere the People formally had the right to complain about the government…and if they took this self-government thing seriously they had the obligation to voice that dissent. “America, love it or leave it” is absurd. The greatest gift those radicals that trashed the Articles of Confederation for the Constitution gave us is that we have the right and responsibility to live our lives according to “America, love it or fix it”. Our individual ideas of what represents a fix may or may not win but we are guaranteed a chance to get in the game…and I absolutely revere that.

Now you’ll excuse me, but I’ve got to focus on a left over turkey sandwich with my name on it.

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