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Forget thanks, give a tip instead

Will we stuff ourselves into the typical glazed cranberry coma? Or will we unpack the take-home therapy kit and go around the table, saying what we are thankful for? Which one of us (this time) will vow to never eat again? Which of us will end up drinking way too much and thanking someone for something we cannot open ourselves up to in the light of the work week? Which of us will joke about the irony of giving thanks on a day that remembers the time we made turkeys out of American Indians, carving out their soul and recycling it years later on pop culture’s art du jour? Who among of us will question the complexity of celebrating the birth of the United States, when the American Indians were here first? “Does that make us retro-Americans?” someone will surly wonder.

No matter: In the end we will end up in the living room watching TV or playing Pictionary, deciding if we are or aren’t going shopping in the morning. The dishes will collect along the counter. Crusts of pie will lay strewn across the tablecloth, a purple stain splattered here and there. Candles will smoke and dim. And as always, the collective fifty pounds we have just gained will make us heavy with guilt. We’ve all got our reasons.

Usually, I get pretty sentimental about this stuff. I get all into the nostalgia – something dreamy inspired by Woody Allen movies or “The Twilight Zone” marathon I watched every Thanksgiving growing up in Palm Springs, Calif. This inevitably leads to me to think good thoughts and the assumption that maybe all the therapy will pay off. Yes, I am usually the one to announce to the room that the things in life that really deserve thanks are the little things – the things that money can’t buy. Like the little laughing sounds the nieces make. Or the little swatch of ecstasy we feel every time we fall in love. Or the slice of sleep that comes between the snooze button and the shower. I even bring up the gratitude journal, full of pages honoring the little people and things, reflecting how bite-sized M&M’s are neat. “The key to life,” I will gloat, “is appreciating the shock of pleasure that shoots from one arc of the body to the next when stretching after a good run.” Of course by then, most have left the table.

But lately, I’m feeling a bit more cynical about the whole thing. With all this giving and taking of thanks, I am beginning to wonder about the efficacy of the little things. It seems that lately I am feeling none too appreciative for paying a “little extra” for a “little dish” of ranch dressing to go with the fries. Or the “little hold time” I have to put up with from all the customer service folk. And how about that little Dixie cup full of tap water that you get at all the places that only give grown-up cups to pop-paying consumers? And let’s not forget the little let downs: fees, errands, baby corn, hangovers, crushes, details and obligations, not to mention the “little while” it takes to recover from not getting what you want. Thanks, but no thanks.

Of course this is nothing new. Since we’ve already decided Thanksgiving is just a Hallmark hoax, what the heck are we doing stuffing ourselves to death? Why are we waiting until the prescribed day of thanks to acknowledge one another? In other words, when did we become a culture that sits around and waits for holidays to happen? Is it really necessary to celebrate life with a permission slip from our wall calendar?

Clearly you see where this is going. Given that, I plan to do something different this year. Inspired by my hero, David Sedaris, I would like to suggest that we all start carrying a tip jar.

In a world where eye contact is hard to come by on a daily basis, I suggest we might as well surrender to the great American way of saying thanks; why not tithe to one another the same way we are meant to tithe to the corporate holograms that keep us full of “nutra-flesh”? I am no longer talking about a letter of thanks – it’s too late for that. What do I care if I made you laugh, cry or overeat? I want your money.

I’ve got the ADD to thank for my willingness to grovel. This Thanksgiving, then, pull out your prettiest bowl (the one you never thanked Aunt Tilly for) and solicit tips; that way you’ll no longer need to wonder if you are really appreciated for all you do, because clearly, no one is going to tell you. If you have more money than you can burn, solicit tips on fashion. Whatever you need, ask for it. Then you might just get what you want until you no longer need a jar Ö or a holiday.

Roxanne Sadovsky’s column appears biweekly. She welcomes comments at [email protected]. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]
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