Happy Thanksgiving

A few years ago, I made the decision not to write anything new for Thanksgiving, but, instead, to recycle something that I’d written the year before. And, ever since then, I’ve been posting the same damn thing. Well, here it is again. I was tempted to remove some of the old references, and replace them with new ones, but it occurred to me that altering this post, which is fast becoming a holiday classic, would be like changing It’s A Wonderful Life so that Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed dabbed or flossed instead of dancing the Charleston in that scene that takes place over their high school pool. So, with that in mind, here it is, untouched… Enjoy….


This Thanksgiving morning I’m tempted to get political and say that I’m thankful above all else for the fact that a majority of Americans still feel as though Sarah Palin is 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 weaponized stupidity 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 all of these folks, I’d likely be living alone 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 my 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.

[note: The image at the top of the post, if I remember correctly, is from the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. If I had to guess, I’d say that the balloon was supposed to depict a kind of turkey-mosquito hybrid that plagued the United States at the time.]

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  1. Posted November 28, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    What, no one wants to say “happy thanksgiving” to me? Is the “war on thanksgiving” a real thing?

  2. Posted November 28, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

  3. Sad
    Posted November 28, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Happy thanksgiving.

    I’m grateful for a candidate like Mayor Pete.

    Please take a moment as you gathere with your family on this special day to ponder who you would really have in charge. The old people or the young people? The old people have done a great job getting us here but what about going forward?

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted November 28, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Sad- The old people were young leaders once who fucked up and didn’t create the change most of them promised. Pete is really just a little old man. He’s a gay, young white dude who makes old, straight white dudes and their overly compliant wives very comfortable. He has not energized young people. He’s fine, but he’s not what you sell him as. He is a smart moderate who may win by being mediocre and not radical.

    Still I’m thankful he’s in this race. Because mediocrity has tremendous mass appeal.

    And Happy Thanksgiving to you and your beautiful family Mark. You are one lucky man.

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted November 28, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    My two Thanksgiving regular go to’s. The Whitman is a palate cleanser for the Burroughs.


    “This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.” — WW, Preface to Leave son Grass

  6. Lynne
    Posted November 28, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mark! I hope you and your family have a great one!

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else too!

  7. Demetrius
    Posted November 28, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted November 28, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Donald Trump is grateful for his family and, mostly himself.


  9. ElsieGal
    Posted November 28, 2019 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    JH: thanks for the WW quote, which is just lovely. MM and every commenter here whether regulars or not: giving thanks to you for always engaging, especially when it just seems easier to tune out. Thanks all.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted November 29, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink




    I’m thankful that none of these things impact me directly (yet). But I would be even more thankful if somebody in charge took them seriously.

  11. Bob
    Posted November 29, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I am thankful for all the mediocre Hillary apologists who resist any progressive thinkers, especially male ones. Without them we wouldn’t have four more years of our dear leader, Donald Trump to look forward to. They delivered for us last time and they will in 2020.

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted November 29, 2019 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Charming as ever, Bob.

    That’s a remarkable sentiment. Really the full Bob.

    Gosh I wonder why you can’t recognize a Bernie Bro when you see one?

  13. Sad
    Posted November 29, 2019 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Sanders would have been great in 2016.

    That was a long time ago.

  14. iRobert
    Posted December 2, 2019 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I hope everyone here had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your overly compliant wives.

  15. iRobert
    Posted December 3, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I always did feel it was odd when marriage vows mentioned obedience. I get the obedience to God part, but obedience in a partnership between two people seems freaky.

    Is it okay to make fun of masochists and sadists? I’m asking for a friend.

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  1. […] likely wouldn’t be where I am today.” I wonder, for instance, if my father hadn’t gotten into an accident that kept him from shipping off for Vietnam, how my life might have turned out differently. Or I […]

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