This year, I would like an early Christmas present: I would like us all to sit down to a different kind of Thanksgiving dinner.
One with no yams. I don’t actually know what a yam is. And I’m not a fan of the word. “Yam” sounds like a control lever on a front-end loader, not something you pass around at Thanksgiving. And if we eliminate the yams, that should, for all intents and purposes, do away with marshmallows. We won’t need anything mallowish in the room. And I’d like the cranberry stuff that comes out in the shape of the can, cranberry stuff you can slice. I can do without the actual berries. I think it would be nice for everyone to sit at a big round table. That way nobody has to be the head of anything for a while. If somebody wants to pray around that round table, have at it. If somebody else wants to spread out a blanket and hit their knees and bow toward the east, we’re all good with that. And if somebody just wants to close her eyes and send some good thoughts to a friend a couple of counties over who’s having trouble making his mortgage payments, that’d work. There wouldn’t be a phone in sight because everybody is too busy telling stories instead of taking selfies or photographing the back side of a turkey. In fact, that would be a requirement: every single person at the table must tell a story, even the little kids because the best stories always come from the most innocent storytellers, right? The only argument allowed around the table would be about which two folks get to grab the ends of the wishbone, because there would definitely be a wishbone, and turns out, everybody at the table gets one wish, and you can only wish something good for somebody you’ve never met. Like, you can wish that family you saw on the news gets a new roof to replace the one a hurricane blew away or you can wish everybody north of you has a decent coat this winter. And we would not go around the table and make all the folks say what things they’re thankful for. No, everyone would have to tell us who they are thankful for, because things aren’t all that important when you get right down to it. And there would be other rules for this dinner. For instance, you would not be able to have opinions. You could only have ideas, and every idea would be valuable and you would not be allowed to roll your eyes at anybody else’s idea. Pretty soon we would have a table full of good ideas, and when was the last time that happened? Before too long, the only things that would be making their way around the table would be turkey and dressing and valuable ideas and good wishes and stories with happy endings and it would be the best feeling any of us had ever had and our cheeks would be sore from smiling so much. And we would not eat dessert. Instead, we would somehow each of us break off a little piece of that feeling swirling in the air around us and we’d put that little piece in our pockets before we walked out the door. It would stay there all the time, like a smooth and perfect souvenir, and every day we’d finger it in our pockets and know it was close to us, reminding us how good Thanksgiving felt and how good we felt about each other, so the next time we’d feel the blood rise in our cheeks or the need to raise a voice or an argument or a middle finger, all we would have to do is touch that reminder in our pocket and remember that there are so many ways to be thankful for what we have and what we don’t.
Anyway, that’s what I want in November.