Last Updated on February 9, 2016 by

I’m gonna keep this one short and sweet, folks; this being the week leading up to a holiday, it only seems fitting that brevity is the better part of valor here. Ehm… unless you’re sitting in an airport terminal or riding shotgun while your significant other drives, in which case I guess I should keep writing so you have something to read while you sit… um… I could do limericks, maybe?


There was a young man they called Cooper

Who like to shove things…

On second thought, no. That would be seriously inappropriate, and although I do, from time to time, just love to be inappropriate, I’m just not feeling that urge right now. If you do need something to read, I’ve got a book that I think is just fantastic. (We do too, so we provided a link – .ed)

Instead, what I’m going to share with you here in this column are two things; the dream of Thanksgiving, and the reality. I hope you’ll stick with me right through to the end, because although it might seem to get a little sad in the second half… it’s really not.

What’s the holiday dream? I guess mine is the same as most everybody’s. I’m sitting in a cozy recliner in a spacious but cozy family room. There are friends over, likewise comfortably seated, and a baseball game on. (I know, I know — it’s football season. But I’m a baseball guy and it’s my dream, dammit.)

The wife and daughter are in the kitchen, along with mother-in-law, sisters, nieces. At this point, you might be thinking that the old-fashioned-ness of this vision borders on misogynistic. I can only apologize for that and offer, by way of explanation, this note: The female relatives I’m describing were, in reality, damn near matriarchal, and the menfolk were not allowed in the kitchen most times, with the holidays being a marked time of that general trend becoming a concrete rule.

There is egg-nog aplenty, and in two varieties; the adult variety for the adults, and the non-alcoholic version for the youngsters. On the television, the Diamondbacks are already whooping their opposite number and it’s only the second inning. Beside the big mug of nog sits my PV, wearing an Aspire filled with Vapor Chef’s Apple Bourbon Tobacco, a perfect flavor to compliment the rum in the egg nog.

I take a light sip of the drink, a deep draw on the PV, and listen to the craic of the house. All’s warm and bright, and the world is as right and cozy as kittens.

That’s the dream.

Now here’s the reality. There’s no spacious-yet-cozy house; just a one bedroom apartment. Wife is actually ex, daughter is estranged as well, and all of the family are out of state. Friends are busy with their own families. There’s no egg nog, no comfy recliner, no big screen television to watch the game on. And, damn it all, it’s football season, not baseball season.

But I’m thankful, anyway. I’m thankful for the good things that there are in my life. There’s a roof over my head. There’s a cup of instant coffee sitting next to me; hazelnut. Delicious. There’s a keyboard under my fingertips. And, hey, wouldn’t you know it? There is an Aspire BDC sitting on a K101 mod, and there’s Vapor Chef’sNutty Caramel Apple” in there, and it surely is yummy.

I’m especially thankful for the hard times. Every bad judgment call, every misstep, has given me experience, grist for the mill that I can turn into good fiction and nonfiction both. If I’d never made the mistake of taking up smoking, I could not now tell you of the joys of switching to vaping.

And then we get to the thing in my life I’m most thankful for: you. Without the long and sometimes hard road I’ve traveled, I would not have written a book that might help save lives. I wouldn’t have found my way here to Spinfuel joined joined a staff of amazing people who generously allowed me to reach out to you, the amazing people of Spinfuel’s readership. (awww… shucks John… -.ed)

Each and every one of you, when you lend your eyes to the words I write, gives me the best gift I could have ever asked for. So, you see, in many ways, the reality is better than the dream. Thank you so much for reading these words. Happy Thanksgiving.

John Castle