Truth be told I am one of those guys that doesn’t particularly like the holiday season. More precisely, I can’t stand it. The over the top advertisements, the constant sell job and the incessant wave of product promotion makes me want to pull the little hair I have left out of my head. Not to mention the fact that I hate the winter and my Christmas lights hardly ever seem to work but invariably get tangled into a mess of stress.
That being said I always enjoyed Thanksgiving. The food, the football, the company of family and no pressure to find just the right gift. My best memories as a kid are with my cousins at our house or us at theirs, playing football in the street and making fun of my mother’s chunky mashed potatoes over dinner.
But in today’s world of constant contact, when no day is sacred and no opportunity squandered to make a buck – just ask the folks who will be forced to work this Thanksgiving so corporate America won’t miss an opportunity to make a sale – little time is allotted for families to reflect on the things that make them thankful.
So while being told every other 30 seconds that “Every kiss begins with Kay” and how horrible a husband I will be if I don’t have a luxury vehicle with a bow on top of it parked in the driveway for my wife on Christmas morning, I decided I would take the time to list some of the things I am thankful for. Large or small, meaningful or not I am determined to create my list.
The fact of the matter is however, I am not really good at this type of thing. Not what you would call the warm and fuzzy type – my attempts at being tender are often awkward at best – regardless, I decided I would sit down and formulate my list even at the risk of being seen as soft.
Oh well, here goes nothing.
I thought I would start out simple, with the everyday things that make me happy. The fact that I am thankful for warm food, cold beer and a comfortable place to rest my head. For a #9 with extra cheese at D’Angelo’s and that M&M’s don’t melt in my hands. For HDTV, the History Channel, the History Channel 2 and especially American Pickers. For Comcast Sportsnet with Gary Tanguay and for the fact that I can watch World’s Dumbest on demand anytime I want because…well, I can.
That I am thankful for a spicy sausage smothered in peppers and onions and for the fact I don’t know or care to know what is in the said sausage. For sour pickles, the big kind you get at the deli that make you make that sour taste face but always leave you wanting more.
That I am thankful I don’t live in Cleveland, but then again isn’t everyone?
I am thankful for long summer days, hot summer nights and a ballgame on the deck while enjoying a cold beer. For Dewey, the Rooster, Pudge and Yaz. For Butch, for Freddie, Eck and the Boomer. For Remy, for Soup, the Spaceman and the Steamer. I’m thankful for Monty, for Drago and even Jim Ed. I’m thankful for the summer of ’78 when I fell in love with the game at the foot of my father. And I am thankful for baseball on the radio while working in the yard and that magical feeling I get when I close my eyes for a moment and I can see him in that old aluminum folding chair listening with me.
I’m thankful for growing up in a time without cell phones or computers and the watchful eye of Big Brother. For bike rides to nowhere, pick up games everywhere and for never having a key to my parents house. For the scraped knees and the bruises and the memories that last a lifetime. For pond hockey in the winter and for the games of manhunt and Marco Polo in the summer. For playing “Truth or Dare” in the darkness while getting feasted on by the mosquitoes.
I’m thankful for the old barn on Causeway St. and the smell of elephants after the circus. For Bobby, for Turk, Pie and the Chief. For Cheesie, for Cash, Doakie and Ace. For Terry, for Jonathan, Wensink and McNab. For Cam, for Ray, for Andy and Reggie. I’m thankful for my brother Bobby taking me to games when my father no longer could.
I am thankful for 2004, 2007 and especially 2013. I am thankful to live in a sports rich city that recognizes what teams can mean to a community beyond wins and losses. Thankful that we bond together in crisis and we remember those affected by tragedy in the midst of celebration. The fact that we always have been and always will be strong.
I am thankful for the 6th round pick out of Michigan and the coach no one can stand. I am thankful for the game in the snow that changed football as we know it in New England. And of course, The Tuck Rule.
I am thankful for after 39 years I heard Dave Goucher scream, “Get the duck boats ready!” in 2011. I am thankful that at age 46 I still get to act like a teenager every Saturday and play hockey with the boys, some of whom I have since before I was a teenager.
And while I have never really told them I am thankful for old friends who, though I see them very rarely, I know would be there for me if I ever needed to call for anything.
I am thankful for growing up in a family with a passion for sports that is only eclipsed by their passion for each other. For a family that loves me more than I probably deserve. For my brothers and sister who through the good, bad or indifferent have been there for me when I needed them most.
I am thankful to have witnessed courage, strength and the absolute refusal to stop fighting no matter the odds as I did growing up watching my father fight the effects of polio throughout his life. While it slowly destroyed his body it never touched his will. And for my mother who showed me the meaning of love everyday of her life.
I am thankful for having two children who are my pride and joy, that love and respect each other and best of all take after their mother. And for the woman who for the better part of the last 25 years has been by my side through thick and thin, good times and bad. Who has more than once lifted me up when I have fallen and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Who chose to see the good in me when everything was bad.
I am thankful for the knowledge that if you really want something, anything is possible. And while I have been up, I have been down and everything in between I am one of the lucky ones, I am loved. For that I am thankful. I hope you are too.
Happy Thanksgiving. That wasn’t so hard after all.