Thursday, November 25, 2021

Giving Thanksgiving thanks.

     We call the room downstairs "the Toy Room," even though it has been many years since the boys sprawled on the linoleum floor, playing with their toys. Late last year, during the wave of COVID home remodeling that swept the nation, we finally threw away the sofa they had battered to a wreck, painted the walls a pleasing au courant blue, and put down a gorgeous new maple floor from Chicago Hardwood Flooring. It looked perfect.
     Until the spring when it didn't, the center buckling up, a hump that compressed a half inch when you stepped on it. Which could have signaled the onset of arguments and entreaties, delays and lawsuits. But the installer Chicago Hardwood had recommended, Arild Farkvam of A & K Floor Company of Oak Park, stood by his work, came over, assessed the situation, then returned as promised, with an assistant, and spent a very long day fixing the problem. Now it's back to looking perfect.
       I was grateful for that—new wood floors sometimes buckle, and I don't fault any lack of skill for it happening in the first place—and meant to thank Arild, and to toss his name out there in case readers are looking for a flooring guy who stands behind his work. But time hurries on, months pass, and sometimes important things, like thanking those to whom you owe thanks, get overlooked.
     Even today, on Thanksgiving. Ever notice how much of Thanksgiving is about the giving part—food, that is—and how little is about the thanks?
     Maybe because as massive an undertaking as the feast can be—we're expecting 28 today—attempting to give thanks is even more involved. There's always enough food to go around. You never finish the meal and realize you've missed someone.
     But gratitude? Trying to give thanks is an invitation to failure, to oversights and slights, and hurt feelings, the opposite of what you intend. Plus it's, well, personal. You can't give thanks without opening a door into your life and letting everyone look in.
     Which is kinda what I do. In that light, I almost have to try, with apologies ahead of time for anybody missed. There are a lot of you. So let's get to it.
     Thanks, first and foremost, to my wife Edie, for being the only person I'd want to endure a pandemic with. "I'll be with you 24 hours a day," as Randy Newman sings. "A lot of people couldn't stand it, but you can."
     Thanks to the boys, for working so hard and making us so proud. For being menschs. For always coming home, of their own volition.
     Thanks to my mother, for talking to me every day, for taking care of my father, for the both of them, though well into their 80s, braving two of the worst airports in the country, Stapleton and O'Hare, to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. And my sister Debbie, for coming in from Dallas.
     Thanks to the entire Goldberg clan, especially Janice, for the pies, and Jay, for the frying, and the tile. Not to forget the new moms, Sarah and Julia, for starting the next generation off right. To Esther, for coming in from California, where Don Goldberg is still sheltering in place. We'll miss him at the table. Thanks to Alan Goldberg, for being the new patriarch, and to Cookie, for helping him, and Rachel, for coming in from Israel. To my brother Sam, and his family, and my cousin Harrison, the gutsiest guy I know, and Yi and Gabrielle and Arianna. To Evie and Mark Levine, Carole Roberts, and all our kin, everywhere, including our long-ago houseguest, Valerie Levine, all the way in Germany, sussing out the secrets of the universe.
     On the professional front, thanks to publisher Nykia Wright, for charting an exciting course for the Sun-Times to move into the future, and to editor-in-chief Steve Warmbir, for his steadiness, and my editors, John O'Neill and Suzanne McBride, for their care and hard work, and to my colleagues, everyone on the staff of the paper, for creating something that we can all be proud to be associated with. Thanks to Erin Wheeler and Jeff Kleinhenz, for keeping the computers running.
     Thanks to Timothy Mennel, for tossing me the challenge of the latest book, whatever we call it, and for everybody else at the University of Chicago Press. Thanks to Lauren Nassef, for her drawings, which really enliven the effort. Thanks to Cari and Michael J. Sacks, for their generous and timely support.
     Thanks to Caren Jeskey for putting her shoulder to this blog, and making each Saturday sparkle and shine. Thanks to Marc Schulman for his holiday ads, this year being the ninth year in a row. 
Thanks to all my blog readers, for Jakash and Coey and Grizz and Tate and everybody who reads and writes in and everybody who reads and doesn't write in. Thanks to Chris Wood and all my actual friends on Facebook, and to my old pal Ted Allen, and everybody else who puts an actual human spirit in Twitter. Thanks to Molly Jong-Fast and everyone firing darts at the Trump enormity, trying to destroy the beast.
    Thanks to my friend and agent for many years, Susan Raihofer, and everybody at the David Black Literary Agency. 
    Thanks to Rick Telander, and all the guys at the Lake Superior Philosophical Society, particularly Rory Fanning, who was right about everything. Thanks to S.E. Cupp, for being a moral Republican, and to Thomas Dyja, Jonathan Eig, Marc Kelly Smith, and all the fellow writers I know.
     Thanks to all my colleagues, from longtime friends like Eric Zorn, to new ones, like Daniel Knowles, the new Midwestern Correspondent for The Economist. Thanks to Rick Kogan and Esther J. Cepeda, Robert Feder and Jim Kirk, too many to name. You know who you are. Thanks to Robert Leighton, for drawing up my ideas and submitting them to The New Yorker, and to the magazine for publishing another one a few weeks back.
     Thanks for all the Chicago friends who keep in touch: Paul Biebel, Lori Cannon, Robert Falls, Justine Fedak, Tony Fitzpatrick, Mark Konkol, Ron Magers, Bill Savage, Karen Teitelbaum. Thanks to my West End Avenue pals, Carol Weston and Robert Ackerman, and my Berea friends, Jim and Laura Sayler. Thanks to childhood friends Mark Paine and Gordon Gregg, who reconnected with me this year, particularly to Gordon, who showed the world how to bear unbearable loss with faith and courage.
      Thanks to all those friends who are more like family, to Larry and Ilene and Lane Lubell, for just hanging out, and to Cate Plys and Ron Garzotto, to Sandi and Lise Schleicher, plus Joel and Alex. Thanks to Kier Strejcek and Cathleen Cregier.
     Thanks to Dr. Kevin D Hardt, for the hip—everything should work so well—and Dr. Alpesh Patel, for the spine, and Dr. Steve Frisch, for the insight. And to all hospital workers, doctors and emergency responders everywhere. Not to forget all the medical researchers who developed the COVID vaccines that allowed those in the fact-based world to enjoy a sorta return to a semblance of regular life.
     Thanks to all the professionals, service people and tradesmen who've done such good work this year, to Village Plumbing and Yemi at Meinecke. Thanks to Tom Mulcrone. See you Tuesday.
      Thanks to all our great neighbors on Center Avenue—the Martens and the Harts and the Kesmodels and the Garcias and the Steins, the Rosenbergs and everybody else. Thanks to Northbrook forester Terry Cichocki, for all the tree advice, and to the Northbrook Department of Public Works, for doing everything they said they would and not being too noisy.
      Thanks to my friends at the Newberry Library, and the staffs at the Chicago Public Library and the Northbrook library and all libraries everywhere. Thanks to the Chicago Botanical Garden, and to Sarah Stegner at Prairie Grass, Frank Gallo at Francesco's Hole in the Wall, and to Blufish and Tong's and Basu and Smoque and Georgie V's and Sunset Foods. Thanks to Audible and Google and, yes, Amazon. 
     Who I have missed? I've barely begun.  Thanks to good fortune, which can be so hard on others, but smiles upon us, so far. Thanks to Joe Biden, for winning, and showing America what a president should look like. Well, the part of America that can see things in front of them, anyway. 
     There's still more, but this will have to do for now. I've got the stuffing to make, and all those guests arriving in a few hours. This isn't everybody. But it's a start, surely. And if I missed you, well, thanks for understanding. It can't be the first time. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all. Remember to thank those people who enrich and enliven your life.


  1. I give thanks to our gracious host, who enriches our lives daily through his words & wisdom. We are all better people because of it.

    1. Yep. Thanks to NS for the profound and the whimsical, the witty and sarcastic, as well as the heartfelt. For speaking truth to power and giving voice to the powerless. And Happy Thanksgiving to the whole EGD crew.

  2. The room loooks great and that is a nice column, appropos for the day.

  3. Thanks for the thanks! I definitely feel that I get way more than I give here, from our esteemed host and from his thoughtful, passionate, funny, and learned readers. Happy Thanksgiving to all! 🦃

  4. Thank you for everything! It's an honor to know you, and to be here.

  5. Thanks for the shout-out, Mr. S...and thank you for being here and for sharing your wonderful wordsmithing skills with us--every goddamn day. Thanks for allowing us the privilege of replying. Thanks for posting comments uncut and unedited, and for allowing me to remain here and to be such a prolific chatterbox for the last four years.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. S---all the best to you, your wife, your sons, and the whole mishpucha. Thirty of you? Wow. Now that's a real simcha! Party hearty!


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