Like just about everything we’ve encountered in this year of the coronavirus pandemic – which even the brilliant mind of “Twilight Zone” creator and writer Rod Serling would have been hard-pressed to imagine – Thanksgiving will be a most unusual holiday, with smaller get-togethers and far less traveling.
But one aspect of the day should remain unchanged (in addition to eating too much turkey): the desire to give thanks.
At the top of my list of things that I’m grateful for is that in late October, my wife and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary.
Given the fact that both of us have seen more of each other in the last several months than we did in many previous years, including those when I was working nights and didn’t get home until 2 or 3 a.m., it seems like, in the midst of a pandemic, reaching that milestone is worth celebrating.
At least that’s my view in this year, when we’ve learned not to take anything for granted.
As our anniversary approached, I realized that I’m the lucky one in our marriage, because over the last three decades, my wife has shown many hidden talents, while I’ve proven myself to be inept at many things. Indeed, after 32 years together, I still can’t put a Tupperware lid on straight or baking dishes back where they belong – and I remain folding-challenged when it comes to laundry.
I recently realized again how lucky I am to be married to Lynne, when a balky bathtub faucet refused to shut off. I alerted her to the problem, but she didn’t fare any better than I did at stopping the flow of water, and it looked like we were going to have to use the nuclear option to prevent a major flood: shut the water off in the house.
And then it happened: She tried one last time and – voila – the deluge stopped.
My wife has been solving our everyday problems for the last three decades. Even before we were married, she helped me clean up my one-bedroom apartment, where the floor was covered by so many newspapers that I had forgotten what color the carpet was. And throughout our marriage she’s been the one who is handy with tools – the running joke is that I’ve been forbidden by law to possess or operate sharp objects; calling me a handy man would be both an oxymoron and dishonest.
So, yes, after 32 years, I’m very thankful for my wife’s expertise, common sense and managerial skills in running our household, and for her patience in putting up with me when we work together on chores such as putting in and taking out the window air conditioners. That became an important joint task years ago, after, while doing it solo, I accidentally bounced an air conditioner off the back-porch steps.
I knew Lynne was a keeper right from the first time I asked her out, because she seemed to understand me when I called her just several hours after having gum surgery. That was no small accomplishment because even under normal circumstances, my tendency to mumble makes it hard to understand me, let alone when my mouth was still sore from oral surgery.
My good vibes about Lynne continued on our first date, when, after an afternoon walking around in downtown Newport, we had dinner – and much of my pasta wound up back on my plate instead of in my mouth due to the aforementioned dental procedure.
Mind you, I was impressed that she had even agreed to travel to Newport with me – but later I learned that she had taken no chances. She had tucked away $100 in her shoe just in case I turned out to be a creep, and she had to take a cab back to her Taunton apartment.
Fortunately, there was no need to activate that plan, and there was a second date a week later, and a wedding a year later.
Over the years, we’ve endured the usual joys and sorrows that couples face. We’ve been blessed with two daughters and shared their milestones, including a college and high school graduation in two of the last three years. We had to watch our parents age, clean out their homes and apartments, and then bury them. And, last year, we worked together to get my wife on the mend after she broke her wrist.
Through the three-plus decades of our marriage, the main ingredient that has kept us together is humor; specifically, the ability to laugh at ourselves.
Learning to laugh during tough times has been an especially vital skill this year, when we’ve been socially isolated, told to keep away from activities and close friends we cherish, and forced to grapple with confusing and contradictory rules from our government. Given that atmosphere, maintaining a sense of humor has kept us sane.
That’s why, when we lost the use of our main shower and bathtub for a while due to that broken faucet, and we had to get accustomed to using our downstairs shower, which is similar to the kind found in most hotel rooms, we coped with humor.
“Well, we had better enjoy it, as it might be as close as we get to a hotel room for a while,” I said, “so let’s pretend that we’re on vacation every time we shower.”
We both had a good laugh over that. Hey, don’t knock it; these days, the bar for humor is pretty low.
LARRY KESSLER (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer based in North Attleboro. He blogs at https://larrytheklineup.blogspot.com.