Dear God, what a year.
Or perhaps I should start again: When I write “Dear God,” it means I’m addressing you, Big Fella, Almighty Creator of the Universe, not just spitting out some commentary on the state of the world in 2020, though, dear God, that wouldn’t be inappropriate, either.
For You must admit, Big Guy, right now we’re looking at the most calamitous Thanksgiving since Arthur Carlson (also known as Big Guy, BTW) chucked those turkeys out of the helicopter on WKRP in Cincinnati. (We know You saw that episode, because Mr. Carlson said so on air: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”)
We started the year with Australia burning to the ground, Kobe Bryant dying and Iran shooting down a plane packed with Canadians — only to have those tragedies swept aside by the most terrifying threat of modern times.
I speak, of course, of the Great Toilet Paper Crisis, the one that had us queuing up at Walmart like it was the chow line at Shawshank.
Then came several months of watching our workmates/relatives absentmindedly pick their noses on Zoom, along with several more of pretending to homeschool children who soon turned feral and now resemble the little kid from the second Mad Max movie. Then every game, concert, fall fair and festival on our calendar got canned. (Ribfest, God. Ribfest!) Then our skies were choked with wildfire smoke from Washington state, probably in retaliation for us sealing the border. (Happily, the smoke dispersed after I sacrificed a goat.)
Which brings us to today. As You know, it is my practice at Thanksgiving to solemnly bow my head and count my blessings — and then enviously compare them to those who have more. I mean, Good lord, Lord, but Mike Devlin had six more blessings than I did this year. Also, my brother-in-law Al shot his age on the golf course — twice! — yet I didn’t even get a round in. Plus, the Wi-Fi crapped out on the ferry, forcing me to take stress leave.
We have been over this before, God. As an older Canadian man like myself, You know there are things to which I am entitled: clean water, paved roads, whatever I want to eat whenever I want to eat it, Bluetooth headphones, a two-car garage that isn’t big enough, a television the size of that garage’s door, at least six Sportsnet channels, air conditioning in summer, heated floors in winter, and a dog that gets better health care than most mothers in the developing world.
Yet, thanks to the pandemic, this year has seen some slippage. Stores ran short of hand sanitizer, which I didn’t know I wanted until I couldn’t have any. I had to learn about masks, floor arrows and patiently waiting my turn. I had tickets to see David Sedaris at the Royal Theatre but he cancelled. There’s nothing left to watch on Netflix. I saw a car with an Alberta licence plate in Victoria, but when I called 911 they just laughed at me. Is this a test, God? What’s next, boils?
Never mind. Mustn’t grumble. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I shall list those things for which I am grateful.
• I am grateful that Canada ranked first in the 2020 Quality of Life rankings.
• I am somewhat less grateful that a separate analysis, the United Nations’ Human Development Index, only rated Canada the 12th best country on Earth. Twelfth out of 189 might be fine for one of those countries where children in sweatshops make the clothes we throw away after three washes, but here in the Great Whine North we expect a little better.
• I am grateful for Dr. Bonnie Henry and her mantra of be kind, be calm, be safe.
• I am glad Dr. Bonnie didn’t see me climb atop a rickety chair, wild-eyed and cursing, to take out a 3 a.m. malfunctioning smoke detector with a garden rake.
• I am grateful she suggested small bubbles for Thanksgiving dinner, for that means more stuffing, turkey and gravy for me.
• I am grateful for Pepto Bismol.
• I am thankful that we have a provincial election to distract us from the one to the south, which has been as painful as staring into a solar eclipse without eye protection, though no one in his right mind would do that, right?
• I am grateful that should 12th-best Canada become too much of a disappointment to me, I’m free to move to the 12th-from-the-bottom country, Yemen, where war has led to a famine affecting 17 million. I’ll try not to hit my butt with the door on the way out.
• I am grateful for the wise, discerning and stunningly good-looking people who read my column all the way to the end.
• As always, I’m grateful for my sense of entitlement, without which I would have no sense at all.