Thanksgiving 2001: A Honea Express Story Tradition
We woke up early to watch the parade. It started at 7am, which seemed to me a fairly unreasonable time to get out of bed, especially for Al Roker. New York City was buzzing with people doing something as simple as watching a parade and as brave as leaving their homes. It was two months after the terrorists attacks and we sat in our living room drinking butter-rum coffee and feeling as safe as ever. It was the first Thanksgiving morning since we lost so much, and it was bittersweet. We had much to be thankful for.
The parade announcers, including Mr. Roker, were dressed smartly in their free Macy's wardrobe, and the song numbers were lip-synced to near perfection. It was how Thanksgiving was supposed to start; family, coffee, the parade, and then football, turkey, and six bottles of wine. We had much to be thankful for.
About midway through the parade Katie Couric said something that I will never forget. They are cutting to commercial and she is telling us what balloons are making their way up the street, and she says to stay tuned for Jesusauros Rex. Jesusauros Rex.
"What did she say?" we asked each other even though we all knew the answer. There was a balloon coming, somewhere between the high school band from Alabama and the 27th boy-band float of the morning, that encompassed everything that we wanted, that we needed. That America needed. It was a monster, a dinosaur of the Rex variety, the kind that devoured its enemies. And America has enemies.
Yet, it was Jesus. Jesus is kind and understanding. He turns cheeks. He forgives. He makes a mean Merlot. Jesusauros Rex was everything we were feeling. Everything we wanted. Revenge and understanding. War and peace. Rage and reflection. Not to mention the endless bottles of wine. We looked at each other and waited his arrival like it was the Second Coming.
He never came. There is no such thing as a Jesusauros Rex. There is, however, a Cheesasauros Rex, a giant dinosaur that encompasses something else America needs- pasta and cheese powder in a nice blue box. Kraft had a balloon and it wasn't a giant smiling cigarette. We had much to be thankful for.
So Cheesasauros Rex came and went, followed by the two oldest men alive, Tony Bennett and Santa Claus. It was really a nice parade. Al Roker was great. Katie Couric was cute and perky. Yes Katie, there is a Cheesasauros Rex.
The funny thing is that when the parade was over I couldn't shake the message it had sent, even if I had imagined it myself. Love and mercy. Revenge and redemption. These were things that I needed, and so, as I always do in times of trouble I turned to the Beatles. After all, they were spiritual and blasphemous, revolutionaries and pacifists. They were eggmen. Fragile and hard-boiled.
I am the walrus. Koo Koo Kachoo.
But football was on, so I forgot it all. Again. As if it hadn't happened, and I had never known the kind of pain that I had. The pain that was but a pinprick to the pain they had felt. Still. They lost their wives, husbands, children and friends, and they kept their cool. Those people gave new meaning to the word 'hero', and the old guard, like our professional athletes for example, could do nothing but say 'thank you,' salute, and dry their tears. Sure, the Lions can't remember the last season they had that wasn't filled with pain, but it doesn't matter. It is a game, football, like so many other things we elevate onto pedestals it may not deserve, but it's okay. It keeps us sane and entertained. Football is a great game. An American game.
The Beatles, however, are not American, yet they are as much a part of our culture as any force in entertainment could possibly be. And then some. They are Beatlemainia. They were bigger than Jesus for God's sake! John Lennon said that, not me, but he had a point. They were selling out much bigger stadiums than God.
On September 11, 2001, Paul McCartney sat in an airplane in New York City and watched the world burn down. He saw through a first-class tinted window what we saw on our TV sets. Hate personified.
But for us it was Thanksgiving. We had each other. There was wine in my glass, football on the TV, and in the next room my wife and my sister sang 'A Hard Day's Night' on the karaoke machine. We had much to be thankful for. And it was bittersweet.
It came and it went, tethered heavily upon our heartstrings, floating like a giant balloon. Yes, Katie, there is a Jesusauros Rex, and he loves you.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.