November had become the month to tell the world all the things one is thankful for. A singular day of thanksgiving is no longer enough. Now we have Thirty Days of Thanks, which takes over Facebook, Twitter, the blogosphere, and most all other social media outlets. And the masses, as if living out the good old Baptist hymn, count their many blessings and name them one by one. Loud and proud. For thirty long days.
I do not participate.
It’s not that I’m not thankful. I am. Really. I realize that I have been very fortunate in my life and, of course, I appreciate my parents, brother, husband, son, and friends. I’m not an ogre. But I am also quite sure that there are a few people out there in social media land who read the posts of others and think “You’re thankful for who? That SOB would sooner climb a tree and tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth.” Or something to that effect. I will admit to having the occasional un-Christian thought about the posts of others, and you know you have them too.
But I digress.
It seems to me that thankful is the new braggadocious. The guise of thanksgiving, absolute humble, scraping gratitude, is an easy way to tell people just how wonderful your life is without coming right out and saying it. Like Granny always said, self praise is half scandal. But if you’re just expressing your appreciation, well what could be wrong with that?
A whole lot. Think of your friends. When they read how blissfully perfect your life and the lives of all your other friends and acquaintances are, they either feel compelled to post the things that make them feel just as fortunate or they feel like telling you to take your happiness and go straight to the hot place. It’s only natural.
The whole thing just creates a vicious cycle of surreptitious oneupmanship, which is why I choose to save my thanks for when I pray over the dead bird that I am lucky enough to have on my Thanksgiving table.
But that’s just me. And I have to say that as much as it grates on my very nerves to swamp through all the saccharine posts November brings, I do read the occasional “thankful for” post that intrigues me. One recent post expressed thanks for a church. Not because of the sweet baby Jesus and all that, but because the church had given this person the courage to share his heart and soul with others, to make real connections with the people around him. Now courage is something to be thankful for.
My friend’s post got me thinking — what is the one thing, not the thirty things, the one thing that I am most grateful for. Several things came to mind right off the bat: I have naturally blond hair, I make a mean gumbo, I can cross one eye, I have a good job and a cool car, my friends and family accept me warts and all for who I am and love me anyway, I can draw. All important things, except maybe the eye crossing, but not the thing.
After considerable soul-searching, or as much soul-searching as I ever do, let’s just say that after several minutes of soul-glancing I decided on the one thing in my life that I am absolutely the most grateful for — my sense of humor. The ability to find something funny about almost any situation, no matter how bad, has carried me through some dark, dark hours. Hearing my best friend say, “I’m not laughing at what happened! I promise! It’s just the way you tell it!” has somehow always made me feel better. If I can be as sad as sad can be and still make someone laugh, there’s got to be hope for me. And if my wise-cracking and cutting up brings someone else a little joy, well, there’s really nothing better than that.
People have failed me because, well, they’re human. My faith has faltered at times. And my creaky, popping joints are a constant source of consternation. But my sense of humor is the one thing that has never once let me down.
And for that I will forever be thankful.