Thanksgiving has become to some – perhaps to many – a sort of speed bump on the way to Christmas. It’s long had the capacity to be annoying – no presents and football all day, which for the greedy non-sports fan is a kind of nightmare. I remember with a weird combination of vivid and blurry the years when Barb and I had three Thanksgiving meals to attend in one day due to a family split. And if you have a large dysfunctional family, there isn’t enough turkey in the world to put you to sleep through it.
This marks the first year I’ve seen Thanksgiving (always tough to market) skipped the moment Halloween slipped into its annual grave. Christmas trappings for sale, decorated downtowns, store sound systems pumping out carols and pop Xmas stuff inside and out. We’re talking November 1, people.
To some degree, of course, Black Friday is to blame, and it’s spread more like Black Plague, not only to Thanksgiving itself but the several weeks leading in. I appreciate a good buy (and I get most of mine online, checking for blu-ray, CD and book bargains) but the only thing Black Friday really makes me thankful for is the news footage of people getting trampled at Walmart seeking a flat-screen TV for twenty-five bucks.
Our Thanksgiving looks to be the delight it’s been in recent years. Typical turkey dinner in the company of my wife, my son and daughter-in-law. A movie at the local theater. Probably more movies at home, including “The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski,” the Jean Shepherd Thanksgiving story aired on PBS last century, inexplicably never (legally) marketed on home video, despite the cult of “A Christmas Story.” Black Friday shopping will probably be limited to on-line hijinks. I will be walking my granddog no matter how damn cold it is. I may even set aside the Heller novel I’m writing for a few days.
But let’s stop, shall we – as the creator of Quarry gets sniffy and sentimental – to do what the word Thanksgiving suggests: be thankful. May I share a few of the reasons why I’m thankful with you? Feel free to grind your teeth.
I married a beautiful girl in 1968 and am still married to her, though somewhere along the way she turned into a beautiful woman. That tops my thankful list, followed close by my talented son and his terrific wife. Barb and I are in good health, we own our home, and live in a pleasant Midwestern city where the cost of living is forgiving, the restaurants aren’t bad, and a new movie theater offers a bunch of screens. If you have not guessed, we are simple souls.
My career, in a tough field for anybody who hasn’t become a household name, is doing fine. There’s TV on the horizon for Quarry and maybe Heller, and I have a small, hearty group of publishers and editors who are keeping me busy and able to purchase blu-ray discs at will. (I’m also thankful that those blu-rays are deductible.) I had a genuine bestseller in SUPREME JUSTICE. I’m doing Quarry again after all these years, and Heller has a home for new novels and another home for all the old books. Most of my novels (excluding tie-ins) are in print or will be soon. This generates income resembling the pension money I’d be getting if I’d put money into a fund and not spent a lifetime buying movies, books and girlie mags. I also have three collaborators in Barb, Matt Clemens and the late Mickey Spillane who make my creative life easier and very rewarding. If this sounds like money is important to me, I remind you that I am the creator of Nathan Heller.
But in truth money is important to me only in the sense that I can continue doing what I immodestly feel I was put here to do: tell stories.
And if you’ve read this far, you are almost certainly among the not huge but very loyal audience that has kept me afloat in my goal of never having a real job.
So most of all – thank you.