Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful To Be Thankful

What’s most enthralling about Thanksgiving? Is it the time with family and friends, the belt-loosening food-borne ecstasy, the concept of comfort and relaxation, the fact that we don’t need to make excuses for not working, or is it a combination of all these?

I think it’s certainly a combination of these, but I think it’s also a chance to step back and acknowledge the things for which we’re thankful; that in and of itself is a good thing. Especially being that we live in this particular nation, too often we’re overwrought with schedules, things that should have already been done, things we’d like to do but for which we fail to find the time, and the inevitable fact that we complain about those things which are not satisfactory. This holiday is about taking all of that stuff – the ulcers, the insomnia, the headaches, doctor bills – and tossing it all out the window, if even for a day or a weekend.

The thing about Thanksgiving – for me, at least – is that it’s really just about smiles and relaxation. There’s no exchange of gifts – not really anyway – so there’s no chore-based grind of having to pick out gifts for every- and anyone who might cross your path the day before, the day of, or the day after the holiday. To wit, the day after Thanksgiving is known as the biggest shopping day of the year and labeled with its very own specific name – “Black Friday.” Personally, I can’t foresee spending one of the nicest days of the year and then shitting all over it by waking up at 4AM to buy crap at low prices, but I’m clearly in the minority as this phenomenon grips the country tighter than UFO’s over trailer parks, so what do I know?

Inevitably, what I think I enjoy most about the holiday is the lack of pressure and aggravation that’s otherwise inherent throughout the year. I like not having to abide by any real schedule – other than cooking times and football – and I like the meandering, laissez-faire aspect of the entire holiday. Air travel excluded, is there anything better than enjoying your existence and not having anything to do but enjoy comfort food and the company of people who make you happy? I really don’t think so.

There are some exceptions – the fact that, usually, the Detroit Lions play on Thanksgiving is a black mark on the day, as the Detroit Lions are among the worst football teams – nee, sports franchises – in history. That, and in the inevitable rush to be around family, you have to attempt to tolerate people who are typically intolerable and whose behavior is consistently abhorrent and pathetic. But these minor issues aside, being thankful is very rewarding. After all, if you have issues with the two aforementioned issues, change the channel or your plans and skip the complaints.

So in the spirit of the holiday, my perspective – especially this upcoming season – is to be thankful about being able to be thankful. Perhaps it’s corny, perhaps it’s sort of na├»ve, but I’m glad to be in a position to not complain. I suppose I could, but especially given the time of year, I can’t. I’m happy to count such good people as friends, and I think – inevitably – I’m most thankful that I can look forward to this holiday – and the coming season – and know that I really have it lots better than I sometimes believe I do.

And, for that – among other things – I’m most thankful.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Now that the season's over after the Yankees -- finally -- returned to and won the World Series (their 27th), I must say that it brings back a variety of memories, all of which are great.

I remember the rush of fans on that first night in 1996 when the Yankees -- and a kid in right field named Jeffrey Maier -- won their first playoff game en route to their first World Series since the Reggie Jackson era. I remember my father and I being swept along with the jubilant crowd and acknowledging the danger and the euphoria and knowing I didn't want it to stop -- ever.

Sometimes that ebullience slows or seemingly disappears altogether. Last season, the Yankees -- in their final season in the House That Ruth Built -- didn't even make the playoffs. And yet, here we are yet again, celebrating another Yankee World Series win.

I'm not sure what is most exciting about this 2009 World Series win. It could be simply the fact the Yankees won. It could also be that they -- perhaps -- shed the "choke" label that so many of their detractors directed toward them. Seeing the "old guard" -- Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Mariano -- flanked by the "new" guard -- Teixeira, Damon, A-Rod and Matsui -- jumping around near third base like little kids -- it's hard to put into words how it brings me back to my days as a yoot, celebrating a huge victory as if there were nothing better in the world to celebrate.

I think, because baseball is handed down from parents to their kids (at least on some level), this is a celebration that I can share with my dad (and my mom to a lesser degree). But most importantly, I think I share the mentality with my fellow Yankee fans that this is my team and vicariously, on some level, I was down on that field, jumping around and celebrating.

I go back to the private tour we had of the Stadium earlier this season -- the field, the dugout, the clubhouse, the trophies -- just a few of them -- and it feels great celebrating this victory, even if it's an hour or two away from the 100,000 or so people assembled to celebrate the Yankees.

It would feel the same regardless if I was in Yankee Stadium or in Italy, frankly; it's a part of me that can celebrate something that links all Yankee fans around the City and the world.

After the fact, of course, it's irrelevant -- and a bit entertaining -- going back to read and review the trash-talk directed at the Yankees: the criticisms regarding their payroll, the fact they're "chokers," or the miscellaneous "nicknames" bestowed upon them by fans of other teams. I was impressed by the fact the Phillies played a solid World Series and are certainly a respectable team. Referring to them as "Philthies" or something similarly fifth-grade-esque would and will probably say far more about my knowledge of the game and maturity than anything I could impart about the Phillies. So I'll just leave it at congratulating the Phillies and their fans on a good season and wish them luck for a rematch next year.

I think it's interesting seeing how much the Yankees polarize fans of other teams. In fact, I think the Yankees -- more than any other sports franchise -- get more anti-fans and more anger and bile than any other franchise. I think that that's a good sign: it means they're doing something right.

And hopefully they'll continue doing something right, continue winning World Series after World Series, and keep pissing off trash-talking "fans."

The parade, of course, is Friday downtown. And the title defense begins Saturday ;-)