Happy Thanksgiving again

I was going to write something new for Thanksgiving this year, but then it occurred to me that I could just reuse what I posted last year, and spend my morning cleaning the house and getting ready for the new baby that’s scheduled to join us any day now instead. (My hope is that, after several years of reposting the same thing, it will become a holiday classic, like the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special.)

So, here it is… Enjoy….

This Thanksgiving morning I’m tempted to get political and say that I’m thankful above all else for things like the fact that a majority of Americans still think of Sarah Palin as being unfit to serve as President, and that former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay was found guilty yesterday of money laundering. But, I’m trying to think less about politics today, and the swirling gyre of retardation that is the Tea Party, and focus instead on friends and family. I probably don’t say it here as often as I should, but I’m incredibly thankful for both. Without my family, I wouldn’t be here. And, without my friends, I wouldn’t be the person that am today… Sure, I might be a better, more successful and more productive version of myself without them, but I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. So, before I get started with this post, I’d just like to note that I’m incredibly thankful for everyone that I’m related to, from my grandmother in Kentucky, to my daughter, who is now in the other room, looking at our enormous turkey through the little glass porthole in the oven. There have been some bad times, and we’ve lost some people over the years, but, all in all, I’d say that we’ve been really fortunate as a family. As far as I know, all of us that are alive at the moment, are healthy, happy, employed and have roofs over our heads, which is quite an accomplishment in today’s world. As for friends, the same, for the most part, goes for them. A few are temporarily without partners or between jobs, but, as far as I know, the people in my friendship network (“tribe” sounded too new age) are doing pretty well, and I’m thankful for that. But, what I want to write about today are a few of the less obvious things that I’m thankful for – things that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you before.

I’m thankful that my friends Dan and Matt, when they’d graduated from college, moved to Ann Arbor to live with me. If they hadn’t, I might never have had the misdirected encouragement I needed to start a band. And, if the three of us hadn’t formed a band, I probably wouldn’t have ever ventured into Ypsilanti, where I met my wife, Linette. There are others that played a role as well, like Ward Tomich, who booked us to play at Cross Street Station that fateful night. Without al of these folks, I’d likely be living in the forest today, sucking nutrients from moss-covered rocks.

I’m thankful for the car crash that my dad had in the late 60’s, which almost tore his arm from his body. If it hadn’t happened, my dad surely would shipped off to fight in Vietnam, with the other men that he’d been training with. Of the dozen or so men in his group, only two returned alive. I cannot imagine growing up without a father.

I’m thankful that my mother encouraged my father to apply for job at AT&T after he was released from the Navy. (He worked at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital after recovering from his accident.) He’d been working highway construction jobs when she talked him into applying for a position at a remote audio relay station of some kind near Monticello, Kentucky. He got that job, flipping switches and listening in on people’s private phone calls, and the rest is history. He steadily climbed up through the ranks, ending his career at the company headquarters in New Jersey – probably one of the few people without a college degree to do so. If this hadn’t happened, I would likely still be in the same small town in Kentucky today, instead of in the worldly sophisticated metropolis of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

While my parents never graduated from college, they did both attend classes as they could, which wasn’t easy with full-time jobs and two kids to raise. I remember pretty clearly my mom studying Spanish late at night at the kitchen table. And I remember them proof-reading class assignments for one another. It made an impression on me, and I’m forever thankful for it. It’ll probably make my mom cry to hear it, but I’m also thankful that they stopped taking me to church at a young age.

I’m thankful that my parents valued education enough to settle our family in a decent school district, instead of closer to where my father was going to be working. My dad, most days, left for work at 5:00 AM to catch the bus, and didn’t return until 7:00 PM or so at night. He did that for over a dozen years straight, and, because of that, I got to attend a great public school, where I met people like Dan and Matt – the guys I mentioned above who moved to Ann Arbor to make noise, drink $1 pitchers of beer, and publish zines with me.

Speaking of sacrifice, I’m also thankful that my distant relatives made the decision to come to America when they did. They did so without knowing if they’d ever see their homelands again. They left everything they knew in England, Sweden, Scotland, and Poland, in order to make a better life for their families. And, it’s because of their sacrifices that I’m here today, not having to work in the fields from sun up to sun down as they did.

Oh, and I’m thankful that, of all the mental illnesses in the world, I got OCD, which kind of has its up-side.

OK, there’a whole lot more I’d like to say, but that’ll have to be it for now, as the buzzer on the oven is ringing.

Happy holidays.

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  1. Posted November 24, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mark. And, just in case you’ve forgotten, here’s Uncle Bill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4nSxArk9g8

  2. Edward
    Posted November 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m thankful for democracy and pepper spray.

  3. Edward
    Posted November 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    And I’m also thankful that Obama didn’t praise God in his Thanksgiving address to the nation.


  4. Eel
    Posted November 24, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    For those who would rather be pissed off than thankful tonight, I offer the following.

    “U.S. ranks 28th in life expectancy (lower than Chile and Greece) while it pays the MOST for health care”

    Read more:

  5. Posted November 24, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    I spent this evening with my mother-in-law, who used to work for the Burroughs Corporation, Doug.

  6. ChelseaL
    Posted November 25, 2011 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Nice (though we still disagree about whether OCD is a mental illness or a neurological condition).

  7. Posted November 25, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Did you recite the prayer together, Mark?

  8. Posted November 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    We’ve talked about William S. Burroughs before, Doug. I was hoping that she’d have some good stories about him. As I recall, though, she didn’t have much. I seem to recall her saying that she was aware of him, but I don’t think he was just showing up at the office in the 50’s, asking for money. I’ll ask her again, though.

    And doesn’t every family in America start Thanksgiving day with a reading from Burroughs?

  9. Posted November 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    As I recall, Burroughs’s parents sold out their interest in the company, so he wouldn’t have had much to do with it — although his monthly check had its origins in grandpa’s business.

    I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and my family is all dead, so I wouldn’t know.

  10. Posted November 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about your family, Doug. I knew that your parents had passed, but I wasn’t aware that there weren’t other Skinners about. If you want to come out to Michigan next Thanksgiving, we’d love to see you. You wouldn’t have to celebrate. You could just watch us, as though you were an anthropologist in the Brazilian rainforest, documenting the behaviors of those people who cover themselves in red clay and throw spears at airplanes.

  11. Posted November 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    No way. You’d throw those spears at me. I know what families are like.

  12. Posted November 26, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    We aren’t like other families, Doug. All of our spears are directed outward, toward our enemies.

  13. Posted November 26, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    And, Chelsea, you’re probably right about the distinction between mental illness and neurological condition. After all, you wrote the book on the subject. I just know that, somehow, it’s all mixed up with depression, and feels like mental illness.

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