Thanksgiving is a lovely idea for a holiday, but it seems more and more crushed between Halloween, the increasingly prominent freak-out party night (buy candy! buy costumes! buy extra insurance!), and the Christmas juggernaut, when we celebrate the birth of our economic savior, consumer capitalism. Thanksgiving itself presents fewer marketing opportunities, unless you're Ocean Spray cranberries, Butterball turkeys, or the always-powerful candied yam interests. (Not that I'm condemning consumer capitalism out of hand: once I read that the American wedding industry is worth billions but has a stagnant market, there being by nature only so many people of the right age and inclination for their services, I realized that eventually same-sex marriage would be legal and encouraged -- the benevolent golden hand would thereby "grow the market" in the only way possible.) But the byways distant from the commercial engines that drive our culture can be where the fruitful stuff happens, so I'm going to give thanks for that obscurity among other things.
These are my cultural consumer thanks, so I won't be mentioning family and friends, nor obvious blessings like good health and a place to live. Nor will I rhapsodize over the lemons, figs, and tomatoes I've eaten from my own backyard, nor give thanks that I'm not a farmer dependent on Nature for food and money (due to wet, cold springs the last two years have given me about three apricots from my three trees). I won't be mentioning the encouraging election just past, or even simple gratitude that once again I didn't have to put up with the Yankees in the World Series.
Instead I give thanks for:
Elliott Carter, still composing beautifully in his 90s;
Getting to hear Nathan Gunn's indelible Billy Budd again, this spring in Pittsburgh (twice, and first-rowish; these are anticipatory thanks);
Getting to hear live performances by the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson as often as I did, including some pretty obscure performances -- does anyone else besides Robert Aldridge remember the workshop of scenes from his Elmer Gantry?
Being able to read Shakespeare in his and my native language, which is good considering my laziness at learning foreign languages;
Getting to Bayreuth and hearing the Ring in the theater built for it;
Marston Records: the past recaptured and time regained (plus they give subscribers free stuff! www.marstonrecords.com);
The Internet, our electronic cornocupia and Aladdin's cave (and, to be honest, our on-line crack house);
Living in an age and area of such electronic and cultural abundance that I can get bored with masterpieces and forget to mention the hundreds of other riches I should be grateful for;
And, finally, for everyone who stops by here to read -- many thanks.