Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

I took part in the wonderful American tradition of the multi-state, headed-home-for-Thanksgiving road trip today.

I heard the president pardon the turkey while listening to radio news over-intently--with millions of others--for the East Coast traffic reports.

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I shotgunned a fast-food egg while discussing the suspicious origin of the moniker "English Muffin," as many have before.

I suffered from heartburn (see fast-food egg), an acute case of ultra-stuffed pockets, heel-itis, GPS hate, eye-death, brain-stall, restless leg, and restless spouse (see traffic).

Out there on the roads today we all felt (all 33 million of us) some strange civic unity (positive), and we all--over-tired and bumper-to-bumper--wondered if the true point of Thanksgiving is to consider the derivative nature of human experience (negative), an experience which--bleared by rained-on headlights--seems easy to be ungrateful for.

Headed in the same direction, at 1 mph, with everyone else and his uncle (on the way to his other uncle's house) makes us feel, maybe, like we're out of control of our own lives. In fact, the 19th century writer Charles Lamb--in his essay "New Year's Eve"--went further (even though he lived pre-traffic jam):

"Whatsoever thwarts, or puts me out of my way, brings death into my mind. All partial evils, like humours, run into that capital plague-sore."

I've always thought that was a wonderful description for why some of us get so upset about trifles--we shortcut from slight annoyance straight toward that eternal no-right-on-red.

But, lo, the traffic jam ends. And whatsoever doesn't thwart me--homecomings, well-timed cups of tea, the cessation of spousestration--puts me in mind of what I have to be thankful about: marriage, family, and the La Quinta Inn of Harrisburg P-A (our half-way stop).

But let's see if I feel this good on Sunday, at hour fourteen, at a red light, Ohio-bound and bleary.

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