Welcome everyone to Thanksgiving 2012. This is our 4th Thanksgiving together. I couldn’t be happier to be here right now.
So, for all of you that do not know me, my name is Jeff. I have the pleasure and honor to be one of the founding members of this Thanksgiving Day festival we have here. This apartment has fond memories for me. I lived here for 3 days when I first moved in. I met my good friend Nic here. I get to hang out with Haas and Finch here. And I get to hear and partake in stories here. Something most people know about me: I love stories. I love hearing them, I love reading them, I love watching them, and yes, I rather enjoy telling them. If you get to know me, you will understand that I tell stories at great length. (Not to the point that Lincoln does though, if you have ever seen that movie)
I would much rather live in a fantasy world. A world perhaps populated by Elves and Dwarves and Giants and goblins. Dragons could be a common occurrence and bow and arrows would still be the preferred method of ranged attack. Or a world perhaps where travel between planets is something that is normal. Species are living out their lives together trying to coexist in a vast, intergalactic environment. Or perhaps be a Time Lord with a TARDIS and visit any and all of these places.
See, the world of fiction gives us something that we here on this planet and in this life tend to lack: A sense of adventure, a sense of good and evil, and a sense that anyone, even someone with the most humblest of beginnings can make a huge difference.
Perhaps that is why we fall into stories so often. We tend to care more about Harry Potter and his struggle with Voldemort and his struggle with Fate than we do about our mundane jobs. It is the same with Luke Skywalker’s battle with his destiny as well as his battle against evil. It is why we care about who sits on the Iron Throne or cheer when Jeff Daniels shouts out, “You’re A fucking Newsman Don!”
It works for sports too. The story lines of teams become things of legend. Our sports stars become heroes with story arcs. Brett Favre, a kid from modest beginnings blessed with a huge arm was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. His fortunes changed when he was traded to the Packers. There he led his team to a Superbowl victory all while dealing with a pain killer addiction and general human stupidness. He was on top of the world, but he fell from grace as he held a franchise hostage. He was traded and cheated on his wife. But boy, do we love a good resurrection story. And Brett gave us just that. But like a lot of heroes before him, he fell short of his ultimate goal. But stories like these are why more people watch the Superbowl than vote for who becomes president. (no really, 122 million people voted for this election. 163 million watched the superbowl last year)
Stories can tell us so many great things. We can learn from them, extrapolate from them, embrace them, care for them and the people living in them and of course we can always recite them and relive them. We can smile from them, laugh from them, cry from them, rejoice in them, and, well, even worship them.
There is one major flaw with stories though. Stories are things that either happened in the past or are made up. Each of these things takes us out of the here and now. Perhaps that is the best and worst part of stories. Sure, you can live the life of Nathan Drake or tag along with the Doctor, fight crime with Sherlock or be a part of Ender’s team in zero G, but none of those things will provide what we have here, right now.
And what are we doing right now? We are gathered here for a Thanksgiving feast! We are following a tradition that was created out of a story. A piece of history that started back in 1536 with Henry VIII and his English reformation. It was carried here by puritans who believed instead of a church holiday on any one day (like Christmas or Easter), there should be days of thanksgiving whenever something wonderful in the world happened like when they defeated the Spanish armada in 1588. The first annual day of thanksgiving occurred in 1606, following the failure of the Gunpowder plot. Some of the traditions were brought over to America, some were created here. Through the years the story of Thanksgiving has warped and changed but all the basics are still here. Look: There are around 20 people here today, some that have been here many times before and some who are joining us for the first time. But we are all living out this ongoing story of Thanksgiving.
So, I want us all to take a moment and focus on what is right in front of us. For some of us, it is a huge pile of turkey and mashed spuds. For others, nothing but veggies. And for others still, like myself, I am staring at a big plate of complete bullshit. I am thankful to our hosts Nic and Haas. Give it up to them real quick. Thank you guys for not only welcoming me, but everyone. For opening your doors and making feel so welcome all of these people. You guys have created a huge family style even here that makes people feel so welcome and that cannot possibly be overstated.
So, what am I thankful for this year? I am thankful for wonderful stories. I am thankful for some good movies. I am thankful for time spent chasing a football in a circle or playing wiffleball. I am thankful running water and electricity. I am thankful for my family. I am certainly thankful for food and this plate of bullshit in front of me. I am thankful for you guys. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for the people that gathered here today instead of doing damn near anything else that you could have done instead of join us.
Because despite everything else, it is you guys that make living in the real world bearable. You make putting down a book easy. You make turning off the TV simple. The reason of course is, well…Because while we are here together, we are making our own stories, stories to tell for years to come. This place has already been the setting for so many wonderful stories, like the stories of Door Jams and of Haas spooning Nic, stories of serial killers, newsrooms, iron thrones and starts to paintball days…What am I thankful for? I am thankful to be a part, if only a small part, of this story being made here today. Here is to this story and to many many more! Cheers!
(*Small note: When asked what I was going to bring as a food item to pass, I responded “A big plate of bullshit that no one will eat and that I will have for leftovers the next day. That is why I comment on my plate of bullshit. I went home with no leftovers.)