Giving thanks starts with saying “thanks”

Thanksgiving is Thursday and I have heard it called the “gateway” to the holiday season. And as such, it is my favorite of the holidays. It’s new, it’s fresh and it’s first.

This time of year, we all hear the traditional stories about the Pilgrims and the Indigenous people who they encountered. The story goes that the first Native the Pilgrims encountered was a man named Samoset, who asked them, in English, for beer. The irony is that the Pilgrims didn’t have any beer, they had run out, which is actually one of the reasons why they were put ashore by the crew of the Mayflower (they didn’t own the ship, they had contracted it). That Mayflower crew didn’t want to share their rationed beer with them, so instead of proceeding on to their original destination, the Colony of Virginia, the colonists were put ashore at Plymouth Rock. Samoset was offered instead “hard water” (liquor), which he appeared to be all right with.

The original Thanksgiving began with someone asking for beer. I think of that every time Thanksgiving rolls around, because some of the moments that I am most thankful for have started with someone asking for a drink.

In this space, I often relay the stories of the difficult, the delusional and the downright mean. But truth be told, those people only represent a small part of the overall people I encounter. The fact is that every day I encounter some of the best people who you will ever meet. I have been behind the stick for over three decades now, but it hasn’t always been the same stick, nor has it been the same schtick.

But the relationships that I have built have followed me from one place to another. I treat them all as chapters in the book of my life. There are people I know from the Rock Club that I ran, there are people I know from the Disco, the Mexican restaurant, the American restaurant, the Pan Asian restaurant, the other Rock Club, the other Disco and the other American restaurant.

Charles Darwin once said, “A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.” And I believe that wholeheartedly. And it is those friendships that have kept me doing what I do, year after year, decade after decade. The drinks, they come and go, but it’s the people who send me into work every day because every day might be the day that I meet a new friend or see an old one. That is the true beauty of working behind the bar.

The most profound relationship I have ever had started with, of all things, a sambuca and pineapple juice. It was a vodka martini that triggered another, and a bottle of Shafer chardonnay that started yet another. Granted, I didn’t drink any of those, but I served them, and in the serving of them, I got to know the people drinking them. Those three beverages started my marriage, my love of travel and my writing career, in that order. And every day that I go into work, I am one cabernet sauvignon/pinot noir away from yet another meaningful friendship.

I wanted to express some of my thankfulness personally, because these are some of the people who make going into work worthwhile.

Thank you Jay and Dana, Mike and Holly, Jeff and Melissa, Ivan and Amy, Robert and Michelle, John and Maureen, Jim and Diane, Ron and Anne, Lisa and Bryan, Jeff and Joyce, Joan and David, Jason and Sam, Kim and Glen, Jeff and Sara, Andrew and Lucia, Paul, Peter, Rhonda, Frank, Bob, Robert, Sam, Sol and Victor, Clark, Jerry, Eva, Therese, Cynthia, John, Tom, Jim, Lisa, Jennifer, Lynn, Amy, Bill and Toddy, Braden, Michael, Britt and Truth, Bruce and Terry, Philip and Lisa, Greg, Jeff and Yo, Jim and Marybeth, Bob, Fish, John and Kristine, Karen, Linda, Ged, Marc, Kim, Paul, Scott and Mary.

I am also thankful to the staff at the Marin IJ, and to all the readers out there who share these, my written experiences, every week, as well as those who write in and share their own. If Darwin was right, then I consider myself one of the luckiest people around, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• Running out of beer isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

• The worst drink ever (sambuca and pineapple) can sometimes lead you to the best person.

• For every negative, there are a dozen positives.

• If I forgot your name, maybe you should swing by more often. Just saying.

• Have a happy Thanksgiving! Because gratitude is the greatest gift there is.