Being thanked is in some ways harder than giving thanks. It can feel a little awkward to be so gratitued. Over-demonstrative hanky-thankery, I think, can seem down-right gratitewd. When it gets to the point where special thanksgivery is required, that’s pure gratefulishness. I mean, just say your peace and sit down — don’t act all thanktified, whether you’re in a thanktuary or not. Otherwise, some thanker management might be in order. Of course, one can expect things to get a little out of hand during a thank holiday, but it’s important to stay thanguine and greetful toward all one’s relatives, however much private thangst one might be feeling. That’s why we feast! It’s all about the gratitouille, the celebration of harvest and plenty — for which, and because of which, we all must be great-full.

Woodrat Podcast 30: Giving Thanks

I pestered family and friends this Thanksgiving and Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day with a simple question: what are you thankful for? Responders included my Mom and Dad, my brother Steve, his daughter Elanor and his wife Pamela, who checked in with us on (American) Thanksgiving Day via a Skype video connection from Newfoundland; and my friends Natalie d’Arbeloff, Chris O’Brien, Deb Scott, Phil Coleman, and Beth Adams.

Several people have asked me what I’m thankful for — a fair question. Too many things to count, really, but first and foremost: all of you. Thanks for reading (or listening), thanks for the gift of your presence and for the inspiration of your own example as writers, artists, or citizens of the planet.

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Theme music: “This noise,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence)


The feast: more than a meal, it’s flesh at its most opulent surrounded by a nimbus of starches and sweets, by anticipation and ceremony, by cacophony and prayer. If fast is a holding firm, feast is a letting go — but no less a ritual for that. Certain foods must be served in a set order. Belts must be loosened along with inhibitions. First the table must groan under the weight of the food, then the eaters must groan as they attempt to rise. The boundary between pleasure and pain must be breached — especially on a feast of thanksgiving. You can say grace before any meal, but Thanksgiving’s mandatory excess imparts a visceral understanding of the cost of consumption: something has to die that we may live.

Walking it off
through the night & fog
the dazzle of home