Grateful for all the ways in which Dar’s autism could be worse. He could be screaming more than he is. He could be hitting himself more than he is. He could be more generally violent to others. He could refuse to show any affection at all to his mother and me. When I see autistic people on TV, I often think, “I’d trade Dar with this verbal, aware, Raymond Babbitt-like person in a heartbeat.” But…there is worse, so I’m grateful.

Grateful to Dar’s support team, the aides and teachers and therapists. I don’t expect them to read this blog; I hope they know that even though I reserve the right to vociferously disagree with them from time to time, I appreciate their hard work and dedication. It isn’t easy to spend so much time with a kid like Dar and get so little positive reinforcement from/by him. There was a time when I thought people didn’t need such reinforcement, but that time has passed, just like most of Dar’s aides have eventually passed. So…thanks.

Grateful to autism awareness in the culture. Actually, if I didn’t have a kid with autism, I might be a bit like, “okay, does everything have to be about autism?” From shows like “Mindhunter” to “Atypical” to “The A Word” to “The Night of Too Many Stars,” and even movies like “The Accountant” and “Wonder,” I feel supported. Thanks, culture!

Grateful for this new dog. Dar loves her. He smiles when she’s all up in his grill. And just yesterday it felt like I unlocked her. For the second time in two days I took her to a fenced-off Berkeley park called Ohlone, and it was her first time playing with dogs without growling. She just ran and ran with freedom and love and abandon. The dogs mixed it up a bit, and she was involved, but not too much. She kept coming back to me. And then…back at home, she followed me less than ever. (In the month since we got her, she’s been attached me at the hip. She usually cries if I put a door between us.) As I type this, she’s happily in another room. Ahhhhh. Also, yesterday I put her out and she did her business quickly, without problem. Is there a lesson there? If you love someone set them free? A lesson for Dar? Hmmm…well, if so, I’m grateful for it.

Grateful to those who have served this great country, today and every day. Their service has permitted me the free time to write this. It is never forgotten.

Grateful for you, reading this. Really, that means a lot. Thanks. Grateful for friends. I really cannot imagine this life without the relationships we’ve shared and continue to share.

Grateful for social media. Sure, it’s a nuthouse, but it’s also us. Grateful to the internet. If this is my last Thanksgiving with Net Neutrality, grateful that Net Neutrality lasted as long as it has. Grateful to this Amazon Alexa. This wasn’t in my life a year ago, and I like the damn thing, even if it is monitoring and monetizing my every utterance.

Grateful for this #metoo moment. Grateful to Kantor, Twohey, and Farrow, who deserve Pulitzers at minimum. They proved in 2017, if we needed another reminder, that blogs aren’t enough, that real journalism counts in a world of constant accusations of bias/fake news. (Pretty sure everyone on the right agrees with the New York Times when it comes to Harvey Weinstein; convenient!) Grateful to this long overdue pivot in the culture, somewhat like the acceptance of same-sex marriage. As in that case, yes, there will be a backlash, but we’re not going back. Grateful to every woman who has come forward, and anti-grateful to all these revealed reprobates.

Grateful for the colleges and universities who have given me work. Grateful for publishers and journals who have sent me contracts. Grateful to the Christian Science Monitor, The New Yorker, and Al-Jazeera, for putting my name out there.

Grateful to family. You know who you are. It’s SO crazy to me that my kids are growing up without really knowing a grandparent, without the messy, wonderful, six-cousin Thanksgivings and Christmases we had. It feels…so much lonelier for my kids. I wonder which relative, or if, either of them will want to connect to, when they’re adults. That’s crazy, but I’m grateful for the family that I still have.

Grateful to my Albanian family, and to the fact that we got to see them this year without any major problems.

Grateful to my Mom, wherever she is, not just for the house, but more importantly for her love and example. Thanks Mom!

Grateful to Berkeley. Even as, in 2017, its name has once again returned to its status as a fundraiser for Republicans, Berkeley remains special: the food, the weather, the redwoods, the view of and proximity to The City, the urban trails/staircases, the literacy, the tolerance, the diversity. It doesn’t feel like settling to be here, doesn’t feel like I failed in the world (whether or not that’s true). Feels like home.

Grateful to the weddings I attended this year: they were amazing. Mazel Tov Steve & Kristina, Andi & Iris, and Kamran & Cristina!

Grateful to everyone in the #resistance, but especially those who, like me, wouldn’t be objecting to every single tweet and action of, say, a Marco Rubio presidency, but instead recognize that this particular President is an existential threat to both republican democracy and our standing in the world. These people have given me comfort, and perhaps pointed me in a direction. I’m grateful to this populist moment, for showing everyone that we can’t just kick economic anxiety down the road every year. Though I’ve been blogging about populism for four years now, I’m grateful to this moment for showing me I need to do more. I’ll have to get back to you about that…but thanks.

Grateful for every precious year, day and second on this Earth. Grateful to be pushing 50, even if I’m not pushing it the way I once thought I might be. I’ve often had my dessert before dinner, both literally and metaphorically, and I’m grateful for getting away with it. I’m grateful for all the sunsets, even if they’re not job callbacks. They’re still great and full and I’m grateful.

Beyond all else, I’m grateful to wifey and our second son, for about a thousand reasons that are way too numerous to name here, but one of them is surely sharing this Dar situation. THANKS, you two.

And grateful to Jon Carroll for the inspiration of the end of this blog post.

Thanks. A lot.