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The grand birth of Ain’tsgiving

The mechanics of genetics, mysterious in method, saw fit to distill the sarcasm and cynicism that bubbles over in my wife and I into two combustible powder kegs so full of each, along with the witty byproduct the concoction emits, that they might well be better suited to a tiny stage in a dimly-lit cocktail lounge making fun of the audience.

And so it was with their customary wit, sarcasm, cynicism and folksy Southern charm that my children, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, created what will be a holiday enjoyed year after year in the Powell household, likely even with more exuberance than its less-misanthropic inspiration: Ain’tsgiving, a special day each year when we can discuss those things which bring misery, in heaping spoonfuls, to us every day.

We had ordered pizza for dinner and Nola, our seven-year-old daughter, thought it would be fun for us to go around the table and say why we were thankful for pizza – an easy enough task for a household that pays more for pizza each week than it does water – and so we did, our first Pizzagiving celebration.

“I’m thankful because it has crunchy bread,” my daughter said.

“I’m thankful for all the stuff on top,” said my son, Kieran, 5.

“Well, I’m thankful for all the cheese,” I chimed in.

“I’m thankful that it’s here,” my wife said with a chuckle.

My daughter was amused and, with a bit of cheese dangling from her chin, she recommended that we go around and talk about those things we “ain’t” thankful for, leading my son to anoint the practice Ain’tsgiving.

Huzzah! A stroke of brilliance!

Schoolwork and naps topped the list for the kids, while dishes and bills were first on the grownups’ list, but we went on and on, sitting at the kitchen table gorging ourselves, in ever-widening circles discussing those dull, daily things which induce a feeling similar to seasickness – waking up, getting dressed, traffic and more.

Lord knows, I could have gone on for days.

I ain’t thankful for long workdays and short weekends; I ain’t thankful for how fast babies grow; I ain’t thankful for trains parked on the tracks; I ain’t thankful for a badly-malnourished bank account; I ain’t thankful for a 13-year-old car with 250,000 miles on it and a strange belch when it hits about 2,500 RPM; I ain’t thankful for expensive healthcare and overpriced groceries; I ain’t thankful for the pandemic or the fact that more than a quarter-of-a-million Americans have died from it; I ain’t thankful for the way love fades; I ain’t thankful for the politics of hate and ignorance, which govern so many of our interactions with one another and the rest of the world; I ain’t thankful for warm Coca-Cola or unsweet tea; I ain’t thankful for “No Smoking” signs, “No Trespassing” signs and “No Parking” signs; I ain’t thankful for telemarketers; I ain’t thankful for speeding tickets or blown lightbulbs, dirty air filters or broken glasses, rainy days or cloudy nights, empty cigarette packs and gas tanks, overfilled bellies and moving trucks, flat tires and busted heels.

There’s a lot I ain’t thankful for – hell, I’ve practically made a career out of writing about all the things I ain’t thankful for from one week to the next – but I am thankful for Ain’tsgiving, the now-official holiday of the control averse, the never-do-wells, the contrarians, the naysayers and the born dissenters.

We give our thanks every day, just as we were taught as children, so we don’t need a holiday dedicated to simple common courtesy – no, what the modern American, overworked and underpaid, needs more than anything is a day to gripe, a day to celebrate all of those things unworthy of celebration, a day to be bitter and cantankerous and vindictive.

Surely, there could be no better year than this one to embrace the observance of a day dedicated to life’s tribulations, pitfalls and inconveniences – so, with a full and contented American heart, happy Ain’tsgiving, from my family to yours.