JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Thankful

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 3.07.49 PM

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

It truly is, because the day allows us to gather with friends and relatives and appreciate all we have. And, lord knows, I have a lot. Fantastic wife and children (and dog). Supportive and loving parents and in-laws. A brother, nephews, sisters-in-law, cousins … I’m living a charmed life, doing what I love for a living, residing in a dream place.

I’m as thankful as one can be.

And yet … something about Thanksgiving always rubs me a bit wrongly. It’s similar to those who attend church or synagogue to pray for themselves, then count their blessings that, oh, a job worked out, or a child was born healthy. Because—if you really think about it—shouldn’t our thankfulness be coupled by a profound sadness? I mean, I’m only aware of my luck because so many others have lives cloaked by pain and suffering. So should I be more glad that I’m comfortable and happy, or more sad that so many others are not? Should I look at the child in Africa dying from Ebola and say, “God, I’m so damn lucky” or “God, he’s so damn unlucky?” And how can I be truly thankful, when there’s greed, there’s corruption, there’s starvation, there’s disease, there’s pain, there’s heartbreak. I open the New York Times and read one crushing piece after another—slaughter in the Middle East, ISIS on the march. Can I be simultaneously happy while a journalist is having his head sliced off?

I have no answers here. I just think that the happiness of Thanksgiving needs to be accompanied by heartbreak.

I’m thankful.

So many others are not.