As we gather around the turkey this year, many of us will reflect on what we're most grateful for. People will talk about health, love, and togetherness, new babies, old friends, and Duke, the family's beloved black Lab. It will be very special. But some blessings don't make the appropriateness cut for Thanksgiving dinner conversation. This is my unspoken gratitude list, and I bet your guy's isn't so different. We give thanks for:
Getting a kid vacation every day
It's hard to tell your kids you're happy they're not home. But SHAZAM! I'm happy to have the house to myself for a few hours every day. I spent five years as a stay-at-home parent, with kids crawling all over me constantly. I don't think I read a book longer than Yertle the Turtle for most of my early 30s. I was bummed out when the kids both went off to school-they were my adventure buddies; we hiked trails and went to weird coffee shops-but also thrilled. Now, if they have a week of vacation, it's like my world grinds to a halt again. There is no writing when they are around, there are no D.I.Y. house fixes. I love my kids down to the crust, they are my whole big beautiful redheaded world, but I give thanks every morning when they leave for school and suddenly I don't hear anyone fighting over Beyblades and who started it anyway.
The lacy stuff you wear
I'm actually catching glimpses of my wife's bra over my computer as I write this, because she's leaning over to load the dishwasher. It's this awesome black lace number with white trim. You would be amazed at the ridiculous things that get your man excited-it could be anything from watching you water the plants to eyeing you as you get ready for work. You look really pretty loading the dishwasher. If we catch a glimpse of bra while you're doing it, well, we are extra appreciative. And we'd like to discuss this more after dinner.
Bourbon on the rocks
If you talk about how much you value brown liquors during family functions, you stand a good chance of finding yourself on an impromptu episode of Intervention. So instead, I'll make my toast to you, millions of readers: Here's to bourbon, for paving over the bumpy moments that occur during family gatherings, particularly when Grandma starts giving helpful tips to your wife about how to "deep clean" your house if she's going to host Thanksgiving again next year. Thanks, bourbon; you're the best.
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Avoiding the inside of an airport
Traveling during the holidays is the absolute, undisputed worst. The years we stay home, I say a silent but deeply felt thank you for not having to get two children through Thunderdome conditions at the airport, only to find at the other end that the suitcase with all my underwear has been sent to Cleveland. It is a happy, happy holiday when I have to go no more than three miles from our home.
Boxing-or whatever gives us that sexy one-pack
Learning to box is the greatest thing I've done this year, even though I get punched in the face a lot. For ages I tried to get healthy, but treadmills, lifting weights, and all that other gym business bored me to tears, so I'd quit and then wallow in self-loathing. Pounding on stuff has gotten me in shape-and it clears the small frustrations that build up over time. Maybe for your guy it's Tough Mudder competitions or Ultimate Frisbee or curling. It doesn't matter, so long as he gets to expend some ya-ya's and a tiny bit of rage. Then he comes home happier, healthier, and more focused, and everyone is grateful.
And not just Taylor Swift, but Selena Gomez, Ashley Tisdale, Ariana Grande, etc. My kids have started forcing me to listen to this music in the car and, wonder of wonders, I kinda dig on it. It's got a good beat and I can dance to it. I grew up listening to rap, reggae, old funk, and punk-music I hoped would up my cool factor. I would have made so much fun of the music I'm listening to these days. But I'm proud to say I can now roll up at the intersection with the windows down blasting "I Knew You Were Trouble," and I just don't give a $%^^. It's nice when you reach the point in your life where the only person you really need to worry about liking you is you. That would make a great Taylor Swift song, actually.
The readers of this very column
By that I mean you, lady reading this at the nail salon or on a plane. On a practical level, you guys keep me employed, so that's pretty awesome. But there's another reason I'm thankful for you. It can be isolating to stay home with your kids. When your day is filled with diapers and Dora, it's easy to feel like you don't have a voice, or like you haven't completed a thought or finished a sentence in a week. Five years ago I started writing to get over that feeling, because I needed to know I could still be a part of something outside the walls of my house. If any of you are struggling with this, try journaling, painting, photography, producing rap albums, something creative. The writing made me feel better and saner, and less lonely. But the thing I'm eternally grateful for is that you all listen to me. To get my words out is incredible; to know that someone hears them is divine. Readers, you are the best. I wish you all nothing but love and happiness this Thanksgiving.