Thanksgiving is gone and done. We’ve eaten most of the turkey and pie. Now all that’s left is the plethora of leftovers in the fridge. We’re now in the midst of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. The holy trinity of shopping.

Yesterday, I went with my sister and her kids to go Black Friday shopping. It was five in the morning, and I was tired. However, it was tradition that we brave the crowds, the cold, and the lines to hunt for all the best deals. So, out into the cold we went.

And overall, I was disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy spending time with my nephews, niece, and sister. However, I was a bit disappointed because it wasn’t that cold. I think that the one line that I spent outside, I sniffled once or twice.

The crowd wasn’t there as well. My nephews and I went to GameStop and my sister and niece went to Old Navy. We prepared ourselves to squeeze through the crammed store to look at Funko Pops, discounted video games, and Pokemon cards. When we entered the store, battle ready, we were happily greeted by the three GameStop workers that were standing in an otherwise completely empty store. I chatted with the manager while my nephews debated whether or not the Pokemon cards on the shelves were decent purchases. The store had been open for around an hour and the only other customer to come in was one guy that waited an hour in his car. They even had PlayStation 5’s for sale.
Once we left the store, empty handed, we went to Target. My nephews and I were first in line to enter the store. We got there about thirty minutes prior to the opening too.

Having spent years of waiting, fought others, and donated pints of blood, sweat, and tears clawing for every precious square inch of line territory I have to say that I’m quite sad.

This was my nephew’s first time wading into the Battle of Black Friday. Finally, we would have the much-needed muscle. Like, seriously. My nephews are strong, tall, and red haired. In other terms, you don’t want to mess with them. Now, in actuality they’re gentle giants, but those on the field of battle didn’t know that. We didn’t need the muscle as it turned out. There was no rushing, no shoving, no stampeding, and no bloodshed.

Don’t worry, all of the above was really for comedic purposes. That’s pretty much my vibe (as the kids say).

For instance, during the Thanksgiving brunch the Wednesday prior to Turkey Day, my mother asked if we could go around the table and everyone would say what we were thankful for. Knowing that everyone would say something heartfelt that could be pulled straight from one of those frilly, sad, tearjerking Hallmark cards, I decided to go with something a bit more comical.

“I’m thankful for pants,” I said. “In fact, I’m thankful for clothes in general.”

While the others laughed at my buffoonery, my mother told me to try again and give a serious answer. If you’ve ever seen the excellent film Road to Perdition (2002), it was sort of like that scene where Paul Newman’s character chastises Daniel Craig’s character, only really watered down.

Not skipping a beat, I replied with “I am serious. In fact, I bet you’re all thankful that I’m wearing pants right now.”

“You think it’s funny? Try again,” Paul Newman’s character in Road to Perdition.

I think it was my sister that deftly maneuvered the giving of thanks to the next person down the line.

I guess if I had to be Thankful for something, I would be thankful for humor. The ability to laugh when things are the bleakest has always been one of my most precious gifts. You might be wondering why I would count that as a gift. Most people really find it annoying. My ex-wife found my gift extremely annoying when my left leg had swollen (due to a massive blood clot) like an overfilled water balloon. I was cracking jokes while hopped up on prescribed pain medication. I thought I was downright hilarious, but she just got angrier with each joke. When she asked me why I was making jokes about this very serious health matter, I replied that things could be worse. “At least I’m still alive to make them,” I think I said.

Life is a serious thing. Totally. However, we should be able to laugh and look at the bright side of things too. Laughing in the face of danger is probably a foolhardy thing. But it sure beats peeing my pants in fear. If I’m going to die, I’m going to do it with a smile on my face.

And let me tell you, having a three-foot blood clot in my left leg that caused the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life… it was the closest I’ve ever been to laughing in the face of death. I couldn’t bend the knee at all. Every step I took was like getting punched in the face by Chuck Norris.

When my divorce happened, I lost my sense of humor for a good long while. I fell into depression…hard. This was another one of those times when I almost gave up. It wasn’t physically painful, but mentally I was getting roundhouse kicked in the face by Chuck Norris. The jokes I would make weren’t funny to me anymore. And when that happened, it felt like I’d be looking into that ugly old face of death again.

With the help from family, friends, and my church I was able to recover that sense of humor. It took a while, but it came back. Much like my sense of taste after COVID-19. (Not my best joke)

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Winter is coming and, for some, a season of depression is approaching as well. When it hits, remember the things you are thankful for. Never forget them. If that doesn’t help, don’t let your pride get the better of you. Seek the help you need. Don’t forget that it’s okay to admit that you’re not okay.

 And don’t forget to laugh.


2 responses to “Thankful for Humor”

  1. patnorton Avatar

    Awwww, Jimmy, I’d want you by my side if I ever go out on Black Friday again!
    Remember waiting in a parking lot one year? We were all freezing. It was then we spotted a Dunkin Donuts across the street. Yes, those are good memories.

    1. Mom Avatar

      I think your presence is a gift to every one that loves you. You provide such a wonderful accepting and inclusive atmosphere to those around you.
      Carrying on the smallest and goofiest traditions our family has. You’re providing memories of the past to the next generation, and that is the very best gift of all!

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