Hey guys, you skipped me!

Everyone shared such lovely sentiments about what they were grateful for this year, and I want to express mine. I know I wasn’t technically invited, but here I am, seated down at this end of the table right between your uncle Dave who covers his mouth after he coughs and your cousin Amy who insists her pedicurist is part of her “quarantine bubble.” I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

I’m thankful for adventurous eaters, host bodies, and international flights.

I’m thankful for friendships, romance, the love of family—any human bond that involves physical contact and is so strong it can supersede basic self-preservation instincts.

I’m thankful for poorly ventilated areas and distances just shy of six feet. And I’m thankful that outdoor dining, when contained within a plywood cube, vinyl tent, or canvas yurt, is technically indoor dining.

I’m thankful for church. Not the religion or the doctrine or anything, just the physical buildings people feel compelled to pack into with a sense of supernatural immunity to the realities of medical science. I’m thankful for broad definitions of what constitutes a “small wedding.” And I’m thankful I finally got to attend the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota like I've always wanted.

I’m thankful for media illiteracy, myopic definitions of the word “liberties,” and men who don’t think noses are for breathing.

I’m thankful for Republican governors, Qanon’s well-established Facebook presence, and medical experts like Jenny McCarthy and the My Pillow guy.

I’m even thankful for Democratic governors who want me to adhere to a 10 PM curfew. We all need a good laugh right now, even me.

I’m thankful for a president who puts the American people first, as soon as he’s done putting himself, his business interests, his reelection prospects, his golf habit, and his party’s judicial nominees first.

And I’m so, so thankful for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

I’m thankful for American values—personal responsibility, rugged individualism, the abject disdain for anything vaguely foreign like rapid tests, and contact tracing, and caring about others.

I’m thankful for essential workers like baristas and mini-golf attendants coming into work because this country doesn’t do handouts.

I’m thankful that, in the United States, earning a living is more important than living.

What I’m most thankful for is that we could all gather together despite this whole nine-month kerfuffle I’ve caused. I’m so glad Nana guilted everyone into boarding full flights and crossing state lines so that all 17 of us plus that entire table of adorable, asymptomatic children, could be here. It does my little pathogen heart good to see all of you sitting in close proximity to one another, open-mouth chewing, sharing serving utensils, and laughing heartily at each other’s jokes, as families do. And I'm looking forward to spending the evening with you all breathing heavily in and out, in and out while shouting about football as the red wine, tryptophan, and sudden case of the sniffles set in.

If I may propose a toast. On three, everyone raise your glass, lower your mask, and say your breathiest “Happy Thanksgiving!” Really use your diaphragm. Ready? One… Two…