What’s New, Pussycat?

zuzu

© The Baseball Bloggess

Hey, Zuzu, what’s new? Not January 1, that’s for sure.

On reflection, I began 2016 on a sour note. Sorry about that.

(It has been nine weeks since baseball, which I think explains my grumpiness.)

I complained on Friday about New Year’s, arguing that there’s nothing particularly “new” about January 1.

Here it is January 3 and I’m not quite done with this.

Because, I am right about January 1 being an overhyped holiday.  It’s like the hoverboard of days on a calendar.

(For those of you wondering where the baseball is in this post, please replace the over-hyped “hoverboard” with “Todd Van Poppel.”)

van poppel

“Todd Van Poppel pitched 11 atrocious big league seasons propelled by hype alone.” ~ Eric Nusbaum, deadspin.com

Even the traditions of “New” Year’s aren’t all that special …

Champagne.

You might think that more champagne is sold during December than any other month. You’re actually right about this. Twenty-two percent of all champagne sales come in December.

But that means that most champagne – 78 percent of it – is sold and consumed at other times of the year, including Valentine’s Day and wedding season.

Congratulations! You still have a lot more champagne to look forward to this year!

© The Baseball Bloggess

Champagne Jelly Beans. Surprisingly delicious.

Bowl Games.

I boycott football because it is barbaric and causes lasting brain damage in many players from the relentless thump-thump-thumping of heads into each other and against the ground. Go ahead, thump your forehead against your best friend’s to see what it feels like.  (See, you won’t even try because you know it’s bad for you).

I may not watch football, but I do know this – there have been a zillion college bowl games on television and most of them were not played on “New” Year’s Day.

This season there are 41 bowl games, including the playoffs. Eighty college teams have played.  (Fifteen of them had losing records this season.)

Just five of those 41 games were played on January 1.

There were more bowl games played on Saturday, December 19 (six) and Saturday, December 26 (six) than on “New” Year’s Day.

January 1: Just another day for college football.

“New” Year’s Dangers: Fireworks, Gunshots, & Drunk Drivers.

Fireworks, stray celebratory gunfire (seriously?), and drunk drivers make “New” Year’s a deadly night.

But, it’s not the deadliest. That honor goes to the Fourth of July, which is the most deadly holiday of the year, thanks to even more fireworks, more drinking, more car accidents, as well as drowning, and other accidents that come from being outdoors when you’re drunk in the summer.

Embed from Getty Images

4th of July: We’re Number One!

Quite honestly, to be on the safe side, it’s probably best not to even leave the house on New Year’s or the Fourth of July.

Auld Lang Syne.

Sing it. Go ahead. Sing it right now.

“We’ll take a cup of kindness yet”?

That’s the lyric?

Last week, National Public Radio lamented that people are increasingly less likely to sing Auld Lang Syne – an 18th-century song about both drinking and friendship – on New Year’s Eve and, if they do sing it, they usually slobber over the words.

listen to the story

So, yes, Auld Lang Syne, like hipster “man buns”, is over.

Embed from Getty Images

Which is not to say that Auld Lang Syne – or at least a form of it – isn’t sung on other days.

UVA

The University of Virginia celebrates its sporting victories with The Good Old Song, a song that dates to the 1890s. It sounds remarkably like Auld Lang Syne because … it is. Just with different lyrics.

You can sing along if you like. Here’s what you do.

First, find a UVA game and wait for the Virginia Cavaliers to win.

Oh, look they just did!

January 2, 2016. UVA – 77 Notre Dame – 66

Now, stand up and put your arms around whomever is standing next to you (if you don’t know them, all the better, Wahoos are a friendly bunch). Sway side to side. And, sing …

That good old song of Wah-hoo-wah—
we’ll sing it o’er and o’er
It cheers our hearts and warms our blood
to hear them shout and roar
We come from old Virginia,
where all is bright and gay
Let’s all join hands and give a yell
for dear old U.Va.

Wah-hoo-wah, wah-hoo-wah! Uni-V, Virginia!
Hoo-rah-ray, hoo-rah-ray, ray, ray—U-Va!

Now, let’s stop with this January 1 New Year folderol and start counting down to a meaningful New Year:

Just 90 days ‘til Opening Day.

Season’s Greetings from [Insert Team Here]

!! UPDATE !!! UPDATE !! It’s 2018 … and I’ve updated all the latest greetings! You’ll find the update here.

!! UPDATE !Who said everything on the internet leaves a footprint? Well, maybe everything … except the 2015 holiday greetings of your favorite baseball teams. Since I wrote this back in 2015, the original greetings I review here have been overwritten with the 2016 versions. In some cases this is a very good thing … the A’s card is still pretty lousy, but not as horrible as the disappeared 2015 model. In any event, click the links … they’ll take you to the newest versions. Maybe you’ll see something you like, but not what I was seeing back in ’15. I sure wish I could still show you the 2015 Twins holiday card!

It’s a busy time. I know you have lots going on and certainly no time to watch Major League Baseball teams sharing their annual “season’s greetings” with fans.

You don’t have that kind of time to waste.

I do.

I binge-watched all 27 team “Season’s Greetings” cards. For you. (Happy Holidays!) I’ve sorted out the best and the worst, and one that, like your drunk uncle at Christmas, is uncomfortably weird. I’ve included links to them all.

“But, Bloggess,” you exclaim, “there are 30 teams!” Yes, Virginia, there are 30 teams. But, three of them don’t care about the holidays. Or, you.

Not A Creature Was Stirring, Not Even Mike Trout …

These teams, as of December 20, haven’t bothered to upload a card: Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Angels, and Philadelphia Phillies. What’s wrong with you people? Too much eggnog at the team Christmas party?

Trust me, once you see the Oakland A’s card, you’ll understand that, really, it’ll only take five seconds to slap some crap together. Even that is better than nothing at all. Or maybe it’s not. I can’t decide.

UPDATE! December 22, 10 a.m. EST: The Rockies and Angels have finally come through with their cards (just click the links above). Not sure they were worth waiting for, but even a mediocre “Happy Holidays” is better than the deafening silence of the Phillies.

UPDATE #2! December 22, 4 p.m. EST:  ‘Bout time, Phillies. And, while you’re not the first team with the synchronized light thing (see Braves, Mariners, Padres, below), you still came through for your fans. So, yay!

Highlights, Highlights, Highlights!

Nothing wrong with season highlights from your team. If you’re really lucky, a player might show up to say “Happy Holidays”: Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Tampa Rays, Texas Rangers. The best of this genre? The Detroit Tigers who included highlights, player’s greetings, Paws the Tiger, and a reminder that Opening Day is coming soon.

tigers April 8

Pittsburgh Pirates: You know how sometimes you can say a word over and over and it starts to sound weird? HappyHolidays-HappyHolidays-HappyHolidays-HappyHolidays to you, too Bucs.

Miami Marlins: And, you know how sometimes someone will say “Happy Holidays,” but they don’t seem very happy about it and you’re pretty sure they don’t mean it?

Kansas City Royals: Type in your name and your Royals card is magically personalized.

royals dear bloggessThanks, Royals … and Happy Holidays to YOU!

Royals highlights and players out in the community round out the card. But, just one glimpse of the World Series trophy. It’s almost like they’re embarrassed by all the attention. Hey, Royals, you worked hard for that, you’re allowed to gloat.

The New York Mets understand. Their National League title is nothing to be embarrassed about.

If I did a Top Five list of these cards, the New York Yankees would be #5. But, unfortunately, my “Best Of” list is only four teams long this year. Sorry, Yankees. Still, good job, and, as always, the Yankees find a way to put their old timers to work.

yankees tree

The Lights Are Burning My Brain

Do you have that one guy on your block who starts stringing up lights in September and covers his yard with Santas and penguins and Snoopys and candy canes and that thing from Frozen? And, a few years ago he sync’ed his computer to it and now when he turns on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra everything starts spinning and dancing and jumping around, and it’s so loud and god-awful you decided not to give him the bottle of bourbon you bought for him and instead you sat in your kitchen and drank It yourself while the lights from the “Dancing Elves” on his roof washed over you?

mariners

Well, that neighbor of yours works for the Braves. Unless he works for the Padres. Or, Mariners.

What Else Does A Mascot Have To Do In December?

It’s adorable Orbit from the Houston Astros and his “Night Before Christmas” adventure. I got a little teary-eyed watching poor Orbit all by himself trimming the tree in sad, empty Minute Maid Park on Christmas Eve. Then he brings out the Moon Pies.

houston orbit at night

You can’t go wrong with Orbit and Moon Pies.

The Milwaukee Brewers trotted out Bernie Brewer and all the Racing Sausages for a Christmas carol. But, no sign of Hank the Dog.

hank

Where is Hank the Dog? What have you done with him?

Oh, God, we almost forgot to do a greeting card

The San Francisco Giants, as always, tossed together a happy montage of happy fans at happy AT&T Park. San Francisco Giants fans are the happiest people on earth, I’m sure of it.

giants fans

There’s More!

The Boston Red Sox animated a cute pencil drawing of the Green Monster done by a young Red Sox fan.

The Chicago Cubs could have put together an amazing highlight reel, but instead they shared photos of Cubs helping out in the community. If you think I’m going to dog the Cubs for promoting their charitable activities, you are wrong. Good job, Cubbies. But, really, just let Joe Maddon do the card next season.

The Cincinnati Reds think watching a lousy, fast-motion montage of fans speeding through the All-Star Game is good enough. Dear Reds, Not good enough.

The Best, The Worst, & The Weird

These teams took the time, made the effort, and genuinely seemed to care about giving something nice to their fans:

#4. St. Louis Cardinals.

cardinals

Sure it’s a hipster cartoon of the cartoon Cardinals singing an odd, jazzy, doo-woppy Christmas-ish song that I think they just made up, but it’s still pretty good. Plus, nice use of the word “Yuletide” in the lyrics.

#3. Chicago White Sox.

white sox wave

Stuff a baseball game into an L train and here’s what you’ll get – a train filled with fans, hot dog vendors, the Racing Mascots, The Wave, an umpire, an organist, Cracker Jack, a dusty World Series trophy, and Southpaw, that green fuzzy thing. Even White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson turns up! (Oops, Micah was traded to the Dodgers last week. I guess he was just taking the L to O’Hare.) This is the holiday party you wish your office would throw.

#2. Washington Nationals.

nats one

Racing Presidents, National Anthem singers, the famed Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, violinists from the Heifetz Institute, and a “Hello” from new manager Dusty Baker. Remember when Jonathan Papelbon choked Bryce Harper in the dugout in September? Neither do the Nats. Elegant and classy.

#1. Minnesota Twins.

twins gonna win

The Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs join the Twins in a brand new Twinsian version of the Carol of the Bells. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s good, too. So good that I’m no longer mad at the Twins for sweeping the Orioles last season.

Blech.

The bottom two …

#26. The Oakland A’s. Thanks for not trying, dudes. That’s why you sucked last season.

oakland screen cap

I’m serious. This is a highlight.

#27. Toronto Blue Jays.

blue jays bautista

What could be more festive than Jose Bautista’s snotty bat flip in the ALDS set to a holiday song? Apparently, in Canada, nothing. What do you want for Christmas, Blue Jays? We want to be the jerks everyone hates.

Look, it’s even on a sweater!

bautista sweater

And, finally …

The Dodgers: Well, there’s Vin Scully, so it should be great. But, it’s not. It’s claymation-like, four minutes long, and sort of creepy.

dodgers

Justin (JT) Turner and Adrian Gonzalez are bobble heads with the DTs who are summoned to the North Pole by garden gnome Tommy Lasorda who is being held hostage by elves in Dodgers uniforms, and … I’m not sure why. And, why are Lasorda’s arms up in the air like that? The elves think JT is Santa from the strange, not-good 1970 “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” cartoon because, uh, because he has a beard, that’s why!  So he has to show them a photo of his girlfriend to prove that he’s not. Then all the Dodger bobble heads with DTs sing “Jingle Bells.” Even David Lynch is confused.

Now we know why Greinke left.

 

Free Baseball: “I Hate The All Star Game” Edition

“I disliked the All Star Game before it meant something (like most of my life). Now that it ‘means’ something I both hate it and think it is useless.” ~ our friend Jay

Who hates a vacation? Our friend, Jay.

Baseball is a 162-game, six-month undertaking. (Eight months, if you count spring training and if you are good enough to make it to the post-season.)

Tucked into that stretch is a four-day break that includes the All Star Game. That little baseball vacation begins Monday.

Our friend Jay is a Red Sox fan. He hates the All Star Game because it temporarily stops the “real” baseball season. But, he does have lots of very good qualities, too.

I am pretty sure that I am a baseball fan because of him. I sat next to him at the very first major league game I attended. It was some 25 years ago.

I have been pestering him with baseball questions ever since.

He always responds. Patiently. Kindly. Wisely. (If you ask him how to throw a screwball, he will provide detailed instructions. If you ask about baseball broadcasters he will rate nearly every one. The Red Sox broadcasters are ranked quite highly, incidentally.)

Jay plays. Jay watches. Jay knows a lot about baseball.

Occasionally my questions stir him up.

Like when I asked about the All Star Game.

For me, I like the mini-vacation. I like watching the All Stars (especially when five of them are Orioles). It’s a long season; I don’t begrudge the players a tiny break at this mid-way point.

But, Jay thinks …

Well, here, he’ll tell you …

Baseball is an endurance contest — 162 games in six months. And then, in the middle of that we give players (making $16 million or even a paltry $1 million) four days off to go fishing and rest up? What’s that all about?

The greatest thing about baseball is that they play every day (and sometimes twice — in what other sport do they say ‘Let’s play two’?) But, no, the All Star Game says, “We pause from this important season to bring you this unimportant game.” (And, no, having it determine home-field advantage does not mean this is for real. If it was for real Clayton Kershaw would pitch seven innings.)

The touchstones for me for baseball are the “Morning Question” – how did the Sox do last night? – and the “Afternoon Question” – who is pitching tonight? I look for the box scores in the paper every day. How many games up (or behind) are we? … All winter I wait for baseball season to start so I can go through my daily baseball rituals — and then in the middle of July they stop it.

[Former Red Sox] Manny Ramirez’s grandmother used to “die” each year at All Star time so Manny could go home to grieve with the family. My attitude is like Manny’s Granny’s – “Who cares about the All Star Game? Nothing important is happening so I might as well die again this year.”

(Jay is exaggerating … but here’s the back story on Manny. And, here.)

The best thing about baseball is that there is a game every day, so let’s play. (That is why I hate days off, rain outs, and All Star Games.)

These are just the highlights. Jaylights.

But, I’m feeling sort of bad that Jay will have to endure the next four days without baseball while the rest of us are watching the Home Run Derby (Monday) and the All Star Game (Tuesday).

So, here are some things that can pass the time until the season begins again on Friday:

1) Watch NY Giants Pitcher Carl Hubbard strike out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmy Foxx in order. It was 1934 at the Polo Grounds. It was the All Star Game. Watch it here.

hubbel2asg

Or, watch Babe Ruth hit the very first homerun in the very first All Star Game in 1933. Watch here.

2) Explore the arts. Mike Carmichael of Alexandria, Indiana has been painting a baseball – coat by coat – since 1977. The baseball now has more than 23,000 layers of paint and weighs more than 4,000 pounds. If you visit, he’ll let you paint a layer on the ball. See it here.

painted baseball

Photo courtesy of Mike Carmichael

Perhaps the baseball in your garage is artwork in the making.

3) Learn a second language. Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth speaks fluent Spanish, allowing him to chat easily with his Latin American teammates and give interviews to the Spanish-speaking press. While most foreign-born players must learn some English to get by in the game, very few American players take the time to learn their teammates’ languages. Nate es maravilloso. Click aquí.

McLouthSpanish3

4) If you can’t watch baseball, play it. In Nicaragua, baseball is El Deporte Rey, the king of sports. NPR’s Only A Game recently had a story about a camp in Nicaragua that allows boys and girls a chance to slip away from the hard realities of poverty for a week of baseball. “[T]his chance to play on a real field coached by a real professional will make a beautiful memory. And even in wealthy countries, beautiful memories aren’t easy to come by.”  Listen here.

nicaragua camp

Jay is my baseball guru (except for that Red Sox thing). He has a blog too. Although he only updates it when he goes to baseball camp each winter. He should keep it up year-round. Visit it here and pester him to write more.

geezer baseball

Jay’s Blog.

Enjoy the All Star Game (or not). “Real” baseball resumes on Friday.

 
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4th of July Baseball!

“[I]t is good to see health-promoting exercises taking the place of insipid enervating amusements.” ~ The Washington Star reporting on a baseball game in Washington, DC in 1860

Oh, Washington Star, you have no idea.

No idea what “insipid enervating amusements” your great-great-great-great grandchildren will come up with. No idea.

We name our children North West, for heaven’s sake. You really have no idea.

But, you’ll be pleased to know that baseball is pretty much the same.

(Sure, some teams play indoors on fake grass, some under glowing swaths of electric lights, and some won’t even let their pitchers come to bat anymore. Players come from all over the world. And, it’s no longer a whites-only game. So, ok, times have changed a bit.)

While baseball’s beginnings go back much further, it was the Civil War that helped turn baseball from a regional, neighborhood pastime – complete with myriad, often vague, sets of rules – and into a pretty standardized game.

baseball with union prisioners 1863 salisbury nc

Baseball game between Union prisoners at Salisbury, N.C., 1863. Lithograph of a drawing by Maj. Otto Boetticher. Courtesy of the National Archives

That game, base ball, helped pass time during wartime and was taken home across the nation into peacetime.

andrew johnson

President Andrew Johnson

It’s said that President Andrew Johnson was the first sitting President to watch baseball games during the 1860s.

“Johnson indulged few recreational activities [but] he came to appreciate baseball, which was well on its way to becoming America’s past time. On occasion, the President took time to watch pickup games organized on the South Grounds of the White House,” according to Jeffrey K. Smith in The Loyalist: The Life & Times of Andrew Johnson.

(Thank you to my friend Gloria, a diehard Cubs fan, who actually read that book and brought the baseball quote to my attention. And, thank you to my Editor/Husband who said it was also important to mention that then-Vice President Johnson was drunk at Lincoln’s second inauguration.)  

By the 1920s baseball’s place in our nation was clear. It was, President Calvin Coolidge declared, “our nation’s game.”

All 30 major league teams are scheduled to play today … all decked out in the stars and stripes.

Each team will wear special “Independence Day” caps.

Like the Baltimore Orioles.

os stars stripes

And, the New York Yankees. (I am sharing the Yankees cap with you so I can take this opportunity to report that the Orioles swept the Yankees last weekend. Go O’s!) yankees stars stripes cap And, the Cleveland Indians. indians stars stripes cap Wait. That can’t be right, can it?

Yes, Major League Baseball apparently thought it would be appropriate – possibly even cute – to paint Chief Wahoo in the stars and stripes. I’m not even comfortable writing this.

But, hey, MLB, we all make mistakes. And, so, here’s the new Cleveland cap you’ll see today.

final cleveland stars stripes

There. That’s better.

And, if you’re a Toronto Blue Jay? Fear not, no stars and stripes for you today. Your maple leaf is quite fetching!

blue jays stars stripes

So, tip your cap today to the sport that is our “nation’s game.” Chances are, you’ll be tipping a baseball cap (but hopefully not that Chief Wahoo one).

And, have a happy Fourth of July!

Always Cheer The Underdog & Other Good Advice From Mom

My mom would be delighted that this Mother’s Day post is early.

For her, being on time was as bad as being late. If you couldn’t be early, why bother?

I’m usually on time with things. Occasionally late. Never early. This drove her crazy.

If my mother were here she would never have seen this blog. She wouldn’t really have cared about it, except for one thing.

My dad has already been mentioned a time or two. But, she hasn’t.

And, that, to my mother, is as bad as being late for an appointment. I can turn from the beloved only child to utter failure with just a single unintentional slight.

So, today, I’m making things right. I’m early.

Here’s one for mom.

My dad didn’t care much for baseball. My mom didn’t either.

But, there are these two things …

FIRST, when I was about 10, it was her idea to make a birthday cake for me with a San Francisco Giant player made of sugar sitting on top of a Los Angeles Dodger “sugar man” that she had pushed into top of the cake.

“My” team squished my dad’s team right there in the frosting.

It was pretty funny.

The next year she did the same thing with a San Francisco 49er football “sugar player” sitting on top of a Los Angeles Ram. The joke was a little old by then, but since “my team” had defeated “dad’s team” yet again, it was still funny.

SECOND, and probably most important, she always, always, always rooted for the underdog.

Underdogs were golden and her reasoning was indisputable. If the underdog lost, well, it was pretty much expected. What can you do? But, if they won, then she had something she could lord over dad and the rest of the world for days.

This led to an out-of-the-blue decision one year that she would root for the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series. I was still pretty small. (However young you think I was at the time, I’m sure I was even younger.)

Mom decided that she and I would watch the Series, although, aside from “hit the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball,” neither of us really knew what we were watching. But, by golly, we were going to cheer the underdoggy Mets to victory.

Mom’s attention span for things like baseball turned out to be pretty slim.

Not only did my mother not watch an entire game, I’m pretty sure she never made it out of the first inning. As she would get up to have a smoke and move to other tasks, she would say, “You watch and let me know what happens.”  So, I guess, I became her personal Curt Gowdy. My memory of this is pretty dim.

When the Mets won the Series, they lost their underdog glamour. They lost my mom. She never rooted for them again.

But, I wonder if at that moment, the Baltimore Orioles – who fell to the Miracle Mets in that Series – creeped into my bloodstream.

Perhaps it was that decision by my mom that led to my own decision 19 years later. When the Orioles themselves couldn’t have been a sorrier team of underdogs, they became “my team”.

Like mom, I clearly have a soft spot for underdogs.

Mom & me, sometime in the post-Mets years.  She could rock those sunglasses indoors & out!

Mom & me, sometime in the post-Mets years. She could rock those sunglasses inside & out!

But, while baseball wasn’t her thing, good advice was. So, to make things right on this blog and to give my mom a well-deserved online “I love you”, here’s some sweet guidance she gave me:

  • When making pie crusts always use vegetable shortening and ice cold water. Use a metal tablespoon to measure the water.
  • When making pancakes always use an electric skillet.
  • When your hands and/or feet are cold, heat your belly with a hot pack. The heat will radiate to your fingers and toes from the inside.
  • When using your grandmother’s recipes, remember that she often left out “secret” – and essential – ingredients when she shared them. On purpose.
  • I named you for Jackie Kennedy, there’s no need to have holes in your jeans.
  • It’s never too early to start coloring your hair. You won’t look so obvious when you’re covering up the grey later on.
  • Don’t scrimp on nice clothes, nice shoes, and anything you put on your face.
  • Pets are the best friends you’ll ever have.
  • Don’t ever get a pet, they’ll break your heart when they die.  (She gave good advice, but that’s not to say she didn’t contradict herself from time to time.)
  • If you leave for church 40 minutes early you’ll have time to say your prayers before Mass. “Can’t I say them from here?”  “Come on, let’s go.”  Corollary: If you arrive early for Mass, you are entitled to leave early – directly after Communion.  Just keep walking and don’t make eye contact.
  • If you arrive for your doctor’s appointment 30 minutes early they might be able to take you early. They never did and this was one of the few pieces of extraordinarily rotten advice she ever gave.

Flash to April 14, 2013.

Editor/Husband: “Why are you working on this now? It’s three weeks until Mother’s Day.”

“Because, I don’t want to be sitting up at midnight on the Saturday before Mother’s Day trying to get this finished.”

“Oh, you will.”

No, I won’t. And, I didn’t. And, here it is.

Early.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom up in heaven … and to all moms everywhere!

I’m Thankful The Thanking Is Nearly Over

I am thankful that Thanksgiving is nearly over. Only a few more daily “I am thankful for …” posts on Facebook and Twitter.

I love my friends. I don’t mindlessly “friend” every person who bumps their grocery cart into me. I’m a selective Facebooker.

But, even so … the string of daily posted thankful messages can wear. When you’re thankful your manicurist convinced you to try “Berry Naughty”, well, really? Really? 

Deep down, I guess I am thankful for these thankful posts, even the seemingly frivolous ones — as they’re much better than the mean-spirited and loud political ones of the past few months.

First, there are the thankful people who have lived amazing lives … recounting their adventures, day by day. “I’m thankful for my time in the Peace Corps when I built a road for an isolated village in Paraguay.” “I’m thankful for my mother who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.”

But, even amazing lives peter out as the month goes on. What began as “I’m thankful for the people I met when I worked in an orphanage in Nepal”, by now has become, “I’m thankful the grocery store had Panko crumbs this afternoon. Dinner is saved!”

I love the spirit of these messages. But, there’s also an underlying sense of failure for the rest of us. I haven’t lived an exciting life. I haven’t done amazing things. Now, I just feel bad. Put on the spot, I’m really just thankful that my husband cleaned up Smokey Jo’s hairball this morning, allowing me a few extra minutes of sleep.

There’s another kind of serial thanker out there: The person who has decided to thank family and friends, by name, every day. This is a brilliant marketing strategy. We all tune in daily – hoping, expecting – that we will be named next.

I’m beginning to lose hope with one longtime friend, who has mowed through three, four people a day, and has now taken to thanking the birds who stopped by the feeder outside her kitchen window.

I’m thinking that perhaps I could draft up a nice little something about me that she could post. I could remind her of all the reasons why she ought to be thanking me, including that I have now saved her the trouble of writing up something about why she is thankful for me. I guarantee, your house finches will not be so thoughtful.

I am thankful. Honest, I am. I am thankful for every moment, at least I try to be. So what if I don’t feel the need to share every detail with the world? Because, when you’re so vocal in your thanks for the things in your life, you may be hurting someone else because they do not share your good fortune.

Grateful that your home survived Superstorm Sandy? Of course you are. But, remember that someone near you was not so lucky. Don’t revel. Don’t gloat by saying you’re thankful that your candidate won, saving the world from certain destruction. Conversely, don’t pout by saying you’re thankful that, while your candidate lost, God will save the world from certain destruction.

See? It’s hard to be thankful and humble at the same time. At least on the Internet.

This Mutts cartoon was published in 2002. It’s one of my favorites. See more wonderful Mutts cartoons at http://www.muttscomics.com

But, I’m thankful for you.

Even if I don’t know you. If I DO know you, you have enriched my life in the flesh. But, even if I’ve never laid eyes on you, you’ve been kind enough to read these words from time to time. And, that is a very generous thing to do.

Really, I’m thankful for you.

My dad was a North Dakota farmer. But, he remembered most fondly his time in L.A. in the 1950s where he ran a string of successful gas stations. When he died, I found this photo and a letter from the corporate head recognizing him for having the cleanest, most efficient stations. His love of Los Angeles and L.A. sports never left him.

Six years ago, my dad died. On Thanksgiving Day. 

A friend said, “Your Thanksgivings will never be the same.” But I disagreed. My dad knew that I loved Thanksgiving (and the Macy’s Parade and the Rockettes. Oh, the Rockettes!).

He wouldn’t want to take that joy away from me.

My dad gave me my love of sports. Although he preferred the Rams (L.A. and St. Louis) and the Lakers (L.A., but not Minneapolis).

He would root for the Dodgers, if pressed, but he never quite understood my love of baseball. “You didn’t get that from me, kid.” But, he was all about sports, so I probably did.

For years, he would, in the name of economy, save his copies of Sports Illustrated and mail them to me – often with little snarky comments written in the margins, and pictures of his favorite NBA players circled in Sharpie. Sure, just getting me my own subscription would have been cheaper. But, not nearly has special.

So, I’m thankful for my dad.  And, for baseball.  And, for the off-season, which is a nice time to catch up with life, and start that beautiful longing for the next game.

And, you.  Don’t forget that I’m thankful for you.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” ~ The Buddha