OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Thankful reflections on life

There will be a couple of football games of interest to many of us on today's holiday occasion.

One pits the Cowboys against the Giants. I'll root, probably in vain, for the Giants. I have an irrational aversion to the Cowboys. I don't understand myself. Dallas has done nothing to me. Jerry Jones has been nice to me.

The other game--and there is no logical reason for anyone outside Mississippi to care, yet I somehow do--is the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, featuring two of the least appealing coaches of our era.

The annual Mississippi spectacle reached its nadir, surely, in 2019. An Ole Miss player scored a touchdown, celebrated by simulating a dog urinating on the Mississippi State turf, and got flagged for bad conduct, forcing the tying extra-point kick to be backed up 15 yards, which caused the kick to fail, which delivered a one-point win to Mississippi State, which made it bowl-eligible and Ole Miss not.

Consider: A nation cast its tryptophan-laden eyes on a Thanksgiving night on a primitive sport from a much-maligned state and got an eyeful of holiday memories in the form of a student athlete's simulating dog urination to express disrespect for rival collegians, albeit rival collegians from Starkville.

This holiday ought to be about much more than football and classlessness. It should be about more than my favorite thing stemming from it, which is a nuked plate of turkey, dressing and mashed-potato leftovers the day after, usually consumed while watching the Hogs struggle with rival collegians from Missouri in the aforementioned primitive sport.

And it's not about the parade on television in the morning. Sometimes, remembering childhood, I'll turn that on. And I'll last maybe five minutes watching large vehicles of vague form and purpose rolling slowly across the screen while uninteresting people talk about uninteresting large vehicles of vague form and purpose.

What the day is really for is reflection into one's life to identify and give thanks for the things that make life better--for, in other words, the proper and healthy context.

For example:

I am thankful that there is a positive, redeemable role available to everyone, such as writing an occasionally readable or informative newspaper column or, in the case of failed football coach Chad Morris, recruiting K.J. Jefferson from rural Mississippi to be quarterback of the Arkansas Razorbacks, thus permitting the Hogs to win several games they wouldn't have won otherwise and thus causing many of us somehow to feel better about ourselves.

May all of you find reasons on this day to be thankful for persons you might have derided and only thought you detested.

I am thankful for enriching rekindled friendships from decades ago, such as that with the classmate now a Trump-disapproving conservative evangelical who emails links to Trump-ridiculing columns by Bradley Gitz that I might not otherwise read. And the Sunday School teacher and mentor from a half-century ago at the old downtown East Side Church of Christ who went away to get a doctorate at Penn State and has now returned to be close to grandchildren and sit in the audience each Wednesday morning as I lead the "Behind the Headlines" class in the LifeQuest program.

May all of you have the opportunity to give thanks for the unexpected reappearance of someone dear whom you'd perhaps forgotten as a defense mechanism for losing touch with them.

I am thankful for the dedicated companionship of a dog made near-human over centuries by our self-serving domestication of wolf descendants into best friends we wouldn't have otherwise.

May all of you have in your lives a Roscoe to stand at the foot of the stairs and bark commandingly toward you upstairs, directing you to come down forthwith and let him out so that he won't have to pee on the carpet, and a Sophie to jump up and place her front paws on your lap and look lovingly into your eyes to say, "Even though you've turned my vicious hunting instinct into lapdog lounging, thank you for letting that rabbit come in here from time to time and get under the shed to give me a reason to sniff, to salivate, to chase, to bay, to wake neighbors, to reconnect with my instinct to be nothing but a hound dog that ain't never caught a rabbit but is sure-enough a friend of yours."

And I am thankful for critics, not that I take heed of anything they say, but for the enrichment provided by the honor of their reading, paying attention and responding.

May all of you enjoy a challenging critic such as mine the other day who took the time to write after an arrow-firing column: "The zookeeper needs to take away those arrows before you hurt yourself. You likely were not born with a calcified mind, but you seem to be dealing with 'something.' Do you drink or use opioids?"

I am thankful for good red wine, chilled white wine and, for muscular soreness, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and nothing stronger.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.