I send a happy Thanksgiving to the young girl, Leah, who wrote to me this morning because her father died in the ICU last night from a heart attack.
“It’s not a very happy Thanksgiving,” she said.
Believe me, I know it’s not, sweetie. But, you see, that’s the misnomer of the common American phrase, “Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Happy Thanksgiving” doesn’t actually mean to have a happy day. Not at all. In fact, “happy Thanksgiving” is code for “I love you.” Plain and simple.
And believe me, sweetie, plenty of people are wishing you a “happy Thanksgiving.”
Likewise, I send well-wishes to the woman in south Georgia who found a box of puppies on the side of the road this morning, left for dead. And now all those puppies are wandering in her kitchen, pooping on her clean floor. Happy Thanksgiving, ma’am.
And to my friend Daniel, who was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This is not the holiday you had in mind, Daniel. Happy Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving to Aaron, and his mother and father and sister and wife, and daughters. I’m praying for y’all.
To Joel and Tammy, who filled my belly today with pineapple casserole, pecan pie, kindness, love, and most importantly, high-ABV homemade beer.
To Amy, for being family.
I want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to my friends, Brett and Donna, in Chunky, Mississippi, tonight. May your holiday be filled with all the wonderful things that practicing Southern Baptists enjoy. P.S: I’m sorry I mentioned beer.
I want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to my sister and her kids and husband. It’s not fair to have a family that nice looking.
To the guy who was on the side of the road today in Birmingham, asking for money. He holds a cardboard sign which reads “Homeless Vietnam vet. Anything helps.”
This man is FAR to young to have seen action in Vietnam. He looks like he’s maybe 50. Although it’s a hard 50. Still, I wish a happy Thanksgiving to him.
And I also wish a happy holiday to the motorist who stopped and gave that same homeless man an entire take-out meal from Cracker Barrel.
Happy Thanksgiving to the high-school football player who dressed up as Superman and visited the pediatric oncology wing in New York City. The kids thought he was the real deal.
Forget Santa Claus, these kids gave Superman their sincerest wishlist. One kid, I understand, asked Supes for the ultimate gift. “Can you use your superpowers to make me better, Superman?”
Happy Thanksgiving to the 9-year-old boy in Wisconsin who went deaf last week. Nobody can explain why he went deaf. He just woke up one morning and he couldn’t hear. His parents told me he was frightened. But he is doing better now. He is already learning basic sign language. And I think this kid is incredible.
I definitely want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to Becca, Mina, Justin, and their whole family. They know why.
Happy Thanksgiving to my mother, who lives in a 28-foot fifth-wheel camper, with all her cats, and a guy who loves her, who is building her the tiny cabin of her dreams on Black Creek.
Above all, I want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to you. Reading this.
In the 10 years I’ve been writing this pedantic column, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve met some exceptional people who have blown my mind.
People who are so pure, so meek, so real, they want to remain anonymous.
I once wrote about a girl named Kiera, who saved the lives of her friends by pushing them out of the path of an oncoming SUV. She was killed in the process. Kiera was 10 years old.
I wrote about people who rescued, not one, not two, but hundreds of foster children.
People who camped out at gas stations, at random, just to fill the gas tanks of registered nurses.
Last week, I met a woman who rescues abused and disabled horses.
I was recently introduced to a country preacher who delivers groceries to shut-ins.
I shook hands with Mickey Ferguson.
And tonight, as I drink homebrew beer, and eat leftover turkey, in the wilds of Jefferson County, Alabama, I am thankful for you.
I don’t know what the following year will bring for you and me. I don’t know whether you or I will be here next year.
I don’t know whether fate will call our names. I don’t know whether you and I are strong enough to survive the rigors of this thing called life. I don’t know what the future holds.
But I know one thing. God still looks out for children and fools like me. And I know how I feel about you.
Which is why I say, Happy Thanksgiving.