Happy Thanksgiving! (For some, I guess. I dunno.)


It’s 3:30 in the morning. Today’s Thanksgiving! My wife Catherine is asleep upstairs. I’m down here on the couch with my laptop.

Man, how was that not way too much boring information?

Then again, it’s not like anyone’s gonna read this. Who reads a blog on Thanksgiving?

Who writes a blog on Thanksgiving?

Anyway, today’s the big day! Or one of them, anyway. But I know you all are out there being super busy, with the pie baking and stuffing making and turkey plucking and so on. All that food stuff. And you’re doing all that family stuff, too, I know. I mean, of course you are. Or most of you are, anyway. I guess. If you’re a reader of my blog, it’s probably just as likely that you’re sitting on your couch drinking and watching television.

My peeps! Awesome.

Ah, family. I used to have one. Sort of. In the way having one sock is having a suit.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was just another insanely painful exercise in bad.

First were Thanksgivings in our house before my parents got divorced when I was eight. (Main memory: me, thinking, “Wow! A turkey’s leg is the size of my whole upper body! How big and scary are turkeys, anyway? I guess we kill and eat them because we’re afraid that’s what they do to us if we don’t. That makes sense, I guess. Boy, mom and dad sure hate each other.”)

Then were two years of Thanksgivings with just my mom, my sister, and me. (Main memory/thought: “I should just kill myself.”)

Then came the Thanksgivings after my mom suddenly disappeared for two years without a trace (“I’m off to the store!” she said, lying and leaving) and my dad was suddenly back in our lives with his new wife that I was supposed to call “Mom.” (Main thought during these Thanksgivings: “I should just kill them all.”)

But all that was many moons ago.

Ah, time. It really does heal all wounds.

When I was young I wondered if that was really true. Well, now that I’m old enough to actually be able to know for sure either way, I can definitely report that it is. Time really does heal all wounds!

Of course, then you’re closer to being dead, cuz you’re older. But you’re wiser!

Boy, everything sure does come at a price, doesn’t it? Wiser—but deader.

It’s so weird to think that (assuming nothing awful happens to my brain), on the day I die, I will be wiser than I’ve ever been in my whole entire life.

I’ll be, like, “Oh my God! I just realized the most major truth ever!” and then whammo: dead.

That will totally bite turkey leg.

Anyway, that’ll be then, and this is now, and life is nothing but nows becoming thens.

Whoa. Pretty wise!

Okay, it’s looks like I’m still alive.

Whew. Close call!

Hey, happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for all you guys have given me. You read what I write; you make with the good comments; you share so much of your lives with me … it’s just all good.

Inside, always, I am a loner. You help me be less of one. And for that I am, and remain, extremely grateful.

My very best to you all on this lovely, strange, sentiment-evoking day.

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  • Nancy Younce Volmer

    Happy Thanksgiving John, and thanks for the laughs this morning – Hope you have a wonderful holiday and know that many people are thankful for you and your blog!

  • darhug

    Thankful today for such a kindred spirit. Connected by the grace of grace. Blessings!

  • Judy

    Out of the pain and sorrow of your youth comes your beautiful snarky humor and your never ending ability to champion the underdog. For that we, your readers, give thanks. Recently, I have been thinking and reading about what prayer is supposed to be. At times we are the supplicant but at other times, we are the answer to someone’s prayer. I truly believe that your writings are the answer to someone’s prayers.

  • leslea

    I had so many Thanksgivings like that. And non-Thanksgivings, for that matter. They did get better once I got away from the dysfunctional familly of origin and now I have these four kids who can’t conceive of a holiday where anyone would rather kill or die than be here. They may not appreciate our family traditions yet, but God, do I ever.

    Peace be to you! I hope you have a relaxing day.

  • Lesli

    From a land that has no Thanksgiving tradition (Australia), I wish you a happy one. We have so many other holidays that I can’t quite bring myself to say that we should have another. But we do have a holiday for a horse race – maybe we could do some sort of a swap there. Anything that would remind us to be grateful for all that we so easily take for granted can only be good. I am particularly grateful to have found your blog in recent weeks – it’s incredibly helpful as I stumblingly begin a journey of honest questioning of many of the traditions and aspects of the evangelical Christianity I embraced as a 17 year old, 35 years and 39 days ago. I’m grateful for the church family I’ve had throughout these years and for all God has done. I’m equally grateful for the very difficult times which have resulted in my being away from church these last several years. Away from church, not away from God. The absence has brought me to a place where I’m free to let go of things that I held as absolutes, to slowly turn them round, tip them upside down… to examine them and see how they look from another angle. And guess what? They look quite different. Sometimes they look nonsensical and sometimes the absence of certainty and familiarity is scary. To you and others like you who think out loud and so allow the rest of us to eavesdrop and learn and question and not be so scared…thanks for being a fellow traveller. It helps.

  • Kerri

    just… thank you.

  • thing1

    Happy Thanksgiving, John! I am thankful for your words, which, a few weeks ago, brought healing and hope in response to my letter, and for your kindness, and wisdom, and how you fight for those wounded by the church. God bless you! Have a wonderful day!

    -Sara (lesbian too angry to read the Bible letter-writer)

  • Matt

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do, John.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • textjunkie

    From one of your peeps sitting on the couch watching TV today–Happy Thanksgiving, John!! Your writing is one of the things on my list o’ things to be grateful for. 🙂

  • Gordon

    I’ve been in a grumpy mood all morning because I agreed to make a pumpkin tart and now I’m sorry and am procrastinating. This post made me laugh and I’m feeling less grumpy. Happy Thanksgiving to you, John. I’m very Thankful for you and your writing.

  • Dianna Narciso

    Excellent that we’re still alive.

  • HAR! Awesome one. I saw your share of this on your FB page, Dianna. (Excellent pull quote!) Thank you. (And it’s so good to hear from you!)

  • Dave-n-TN

    John: Thank you for all you have done – and yet to do – to enlighten us about God’s love for all. I am encouraged today as I read thru the many prayer requests and responses on the previous blog item … and I am grateful that you have given an opportunity for this sharing and caring.

    I pray everyone has a great holiday weekend. Peace be with you.

  • Just put a can of pie filling on the table, with a can opener and a couple of spoons, and say, “Here. As a gift to us all I decided to serve the very ESSENCE of pumpkin pie. Crust, like context, is for insecure people.” (And thank you, Gordon.)

  • That’s very kind of you to say, TJ. (It’s good to hear from you.)

  • Happy Thanksgiving Matt! You certainly deserve it.

  • Well, that was lovely, Thank you, Sara.

  • Thank you for all your awesome support, Kerri!

  • That’s so nice. Thanks, Lesli. (A holiday for a horse race? What’s that about? Do share!)

  • Gordon

    LOL! Add a box of graham crackers and you’ve got a deconstructed pumpkin pie! Unfortunately, only a straight guy could pull that off. If I tried it they would drum me out of the continuum.

  • Charles

    John, you help make me feel less lonely in the world, you give me/us thought provoking ideas, and you frequently make me laugh. Thank you and God bless.

  • CrazyAuntie

    John, today is a day that I wasn’t feeling very thankful. I’m a caretaker for my elderly mother and I feel abandoned by my relatives (I’m not calling them family because they don’t treat me like family.) But I saw your post on FB and I knew you’d have just the right thing to say and that it would help. I have read your “caring for your elderly parents” essays over & over – they’re just what I need in those tough times of despair.
    So, I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful for my friend Kate, who’s having us over today. I’m thankful for my friend Faith who I’ll see tomorrow.
    I love this quote from a Disney (!) movie – about REAL families:
    “This is my family. I found it all on my own. Is little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.”
    Blessings to you and everyone reading this.

  • Diane U

    I give my thanks for you, dear John, your writings and inspiration and humor, and this community that you’ve created. In this crazy world we live in, may we all be blessed and truly grateful. Now, I’m off to be with my semi-dysfunctional family of origin. Peace.

  • Lesli

    Yeah, it really seems like there should be more to the whole horse-race-holiday thing, doesn’t it? But…no. It’s a horse race, therefore we have a day off work. Go figure. 🙂 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_Cup

  • Jen H.

    John, thank you for your blog, and for standing up for those who need it, and helping to explain theological concepts I sometimes have trouble getting my head around. I am grateful for it all. I hope that on this day, on this particular Thanksgiving, which, really, is the only one that matters, you are happy.

    It’s a little Thanksgiving around here, too – just me, my husband, and our 6-year old, together, cuddled together on the couch while we watch “Star Wars” for my son’s first time and seeing it anew through his eyes, and nibbling on turkey. I don’t think it can get any more awesome than this, for me, right now.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Lark D Kephart

    I am grateful I found your blog, John. I am thankful for a warm home and the three felines who share my life. Though alone today, I do not despair. Holidays can be tough but I enjoy my solitary reading time. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Hug those you love.

  • nanbush

    Oh, you do make me laugh and thank God and know that none of us struggles alone. I’m at an age when people look at me solemnly and say things like, “You’re very wise.” Scary . Who me? But it’s exactly as you were saying. All of a sudden, staring my 80’s in the face, I realize that all this stuff I’ve accumulated, all these sayings, all this ‘wisdom,’ is about to go poof! Thank you for helping me and the rest of us to remember to be here–really be here–and to notice and use ourselves in God’s good purpose, even when we’re not certain of what that is. Trust, and go and do. You are much loved.

  • Alliecat04

    Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, John. Mine was so much better than last year’s that it’s not even funny – last year my dad was suicidal and my mom was about ready to murder somebody. This year we’re all still broken but much more relaxed about it. God bless and keep you, and everyone else here.

  • Worthless Beast

    I typed up a message on a forum I go to asking the world if I’m the only one lucky enough to *like* the people I spend Thanksgiving with. I used to love the extended family get-togethers when I was a kid… even when we all started drifting apart and I was forced to live with an unstable and violent older brother, he’d soften and turn all pleasant during holidays because he’d cook and was so damned proud of his bbq and smoking skills. For the last several years, holidays have been with my fiancee’ and his adult nephew (when we can get him from his other family). All three of us are classical introverts and absolute turbo-geeks.

    Today was a day of eating, making fun of the thing my fiancee’ cannot live down (the year he forgot to put sugar in the pumpkin pies), video-gaming, making anime-related jokes and watching Pumpkin Chunkin’. I don’t know… it’s like a mini anime/sci-fi/comic/film/science convention around here when we get together. It’s very different from what my natural family does (they never understood my geek hobbies) and we’re far from formal. It’s just wonderful. I still have love for my natural family, but my adopted one is where I really fit in.

    — And I think that’s worth knowing. Sometimes you fit in better with the people you choose rather than where you were born. Or maybe I’m just really lucky all around.

  • peacepup

    Happy Thanksgiving anyway John. Give your wife a huge hug and kiss to show how thankful you are for her.