George, roughly 45 and stocky, sits sleepily on a living room couch. He’s watching TV while his very young nephew plays on a rug in front of him. Cheers erupt from the television as someone apparently scores a touchdown. George rolls his eyes in disgust.
George: Ugh! Are you kidding me? That was a catch like I’m a rhinoceros.
(looks around for some distraction and sniffs the air) I wonder if the turkey’s almost ready. I’m about sick of watching this game. And I am starving. If there’s one good thing about the whole family being here, it’s that I don’t have to cook anything. I can’t wait for mom’s stuffing.
(laughing from off the stage)Meh. Sounds like the guys are back from the annual pickup “Turkey Bowl.” I’m sure they’re all going to have stories to tell about full field touchdown returns and one-handed grabs. Like any of us care.
This whole day is more trouble than it’s worth. We make awkward conversation with people we don’t like. We repeat the same god damn short story about the last year to everyone that asks. We listen as if we’re interested. And the worst part: before anyone is allowed to touch any food, we go around the table saying what “we’re thankful for.”
“I’m thankful for a miserable life.” Ha-Ha.
(George glances at his nephew, who has a delighted look on his face as he “revs” a truck on the carpet. He sighs.) He looks so happy. If he only knew what life had in store for him. Decades of heartache. Bad investments. Failed marriages. Expanding waistlines. Yet, he’s so happy in his ignorance. Why can’t we all be that way?
(the nephew holds up the truck to his uncle. George manages a smile) Vroom. Heh. Is this your daddy’s truck? (smiling genuinely now at his nephew’s turn to shyness. He hands it back) I used to play. This isn’t me. Its just, so much has happened. I used to be happy, and now I’m bitter at everything. Look at me. I’m sitting alone in here while everyone else is having fun and enjoying company.
It’s not really fair, that I’m here like this. They probably don’t understand. I know they don’t. None of them know what its like to cry your their brother’s shoulder when the stock market leaves you broke at 35. None of them had to move in with their sister for a month after a marriage that ended so badly they couldn’t take care of themselves anymore. None of them had parents give them an intervention when the drink took hold of their lives. None of them.
A wheel falls off of the truck the young nephew has been playing with. He immediately begins crying and holds it up to his Uncle George. George, visibly concerned, takes the truck and wheel in his hands and tinkers a bit.
Here, here. Timmy, it’s alright, see? Good as new. You don’t need to cry; I’m here to help you.
(George pauses as he mulls something over in his head) I’m here to help him. And my family has always been there to help me… I guess I’m really lucky. I’ve had someone there looking after me, caring about me the whole time. I’ve had people there. Even now, they still invite this old curmudgeon when the holidays come around. How can they do that? How is that possible? I must be the luckiest man in the world to have a family that cares this much.
From the TV: “and that’s it folks, Dallas 27, Detroit 17. From everybody here at NBC, have a Happy Thanksgiving!”
George stands up and stretches out. He looks down at his nephew and smiles as he picks him up.
Hey Timmy, let’s go find your mommy and daddy. Its dinnertime, and I think I finally know what I’m thankful for.