Someone once explained the concept of free-range turkeys this way: They live a great life followed by one very bad day.
And for the bird lucky enough to receive a presidential pardon at the White House each year, the good times keep rolling.
Those of us in the human race experience good days and bad. Thanksgiving is time to accentuate the positive and express our gratitude.
Unlike New Year’s Eve and its resolutions, Thanksgiving doesn’t require a to-do list. There is a shopping list for the grocery store, but it’s a more laid-back holiday, with a focus on family, food and football.
If things get tense around the family table when politics come up, try changing the subject. (“Can you believe how good these potatoes are? I never would have thought of topping them with marshmallows.”)
There is a lot of mythologizing about the first Thanksgiving in 1621, which Smithsonian Magazine refers to as “the brunch in the forest” shared by the Native Americans and new settlers. It was a nice gathering, but was quickly forgotten. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national holiday of Thanksgiving.
Expressing gratitude together is a way to focus on what unites us, rather than retreating into our tribal corners. Despite national and world events that can make us uneasy, there is much to be grateful for as 2018 winds down.
We all have our own reasons to be grateful, and many we hold in common: a treasured spouse; beloved children; sufficient food, clothing and shelter. Others may sometimes escape notice. To that end, here are 10 things for which Western New Yorkers can give thanks:
1. The Turkey Trot, when assorted runners, walkers, expatriates and wannabe expats dress in colorful costumes to stomp 5 miles through freezing weather and “earn” their turkey dinner through a public act of mortification.
2. The Buffalo Sabres, who won their sixth-straight game earlier this week, their first such streak since 2010. Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Mittelstadt, Carter Hutton — these guys are good. The KeyBank Center will be rocking on Friday when Buffalo hosts the Montreal Canadiens at 4 p.m.
3. The Buffalo Bills: They’re on a one-game winning streak. We’ll take it.
4. The World’s Largest Disco dance party, Saturday night at the Convention Center. It’s disco without the panic, a celebration of Stayin’ Alive.
5. The Buffalo City Mission, Friends of Night People, The News Neediest Fund, Catholic Charities and all of the food pantries, clothing drives and dozens of other ways that Western New Yorkers help the less fortunate.
6. Buffalo architecture: It’s one of the features that makes us stand out from Rochester, Syracuse, Erie and other nearby cities.
7. “Hamilton.” The musical is the hottest ticket in town and it’s finally our turn.
8. Our climate. Hear us out on this one. Sure, the snow piling up can make some days so depressing it feels like we’ve living in the movie “Buffalo ’66,” but as directed by Ingmar Bergman. But when was the last time we had a hurricane, wildfire or other climate catastrophe that we couldn’t handle?
9. Buffalo’s artists, authors and musicians, who help us understand our lives by reflecting it back to us in new ways.
10. Our regional melting pot and polyglot. More than 80 different languages are spoken in Buffalo Public Schools. Most of them will be used at holiday tables today, with dishes from many countries passed and shared.