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Dan Bickley

Bickley’s Feast: Finding gratitude in real life outside sports, politics

Fans at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick watch a spring training baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Scottsdale, Ariz., Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The food is overrated. The football is low-octane, mostly because of the Lions. The entire event has been framed in an outrageous myth, ruthlessly taught to generations of gullible schoolchildren.

So why is Thanksgiving so beloved?

Answer: Because nothing is required on this holiday.

No wrapping and gifting of presents. No dressing up in elaborate costumes in the heat of late October. No coloring hard-boiled eggs and egg hunts in the backyard. No dealing with massive crowds to watch 18 minutes of predictable fireworks. No staying up to midnight just to toast, kiss and ring in a new year.

Thanksgiving requires very little. Except what really matters.

It asks for an appetite, being present and feeling thankful. That’s it. And the last part is what’s really important, especially after what we’ve been through.

The pandemic has taken a serious toll on all of us, from jobs to careers to entertainment options, from disposable income to restaurants to summer vacations. Eight months later, it’s limiting the size of family gatherings on a national holiday, eliminating the need for a 20-pound turkeys.

Those birds should’ve all been pardoned. Either way, I’m not cooking. Be thankful for that.

It’s also a great year to truly understand the meaning of gratitude.

For all the self-preservation, political rancor and racial tension that has marked 2020, for all the uncomfortable moments when sports and real life intersected at dangerously high speeds, it’s clear that we lost our way a long time ago.

There is an overwhelming sense of greed in this country. Teamwork is out. Individual pursuit is the new mantra. Profiteering has taken over medicine, education, even prisons. This country has effectively cleaned out the middle class, corrupting our sense of shared humanity and our duty to the collective good.

Now more than ever, in a year that has taken away so much, Thanksgiving commands you to appreciate the stuff that really matters:

Your health. Your hope. Your dreams. Your parents and living relatives. The wife who adopts cats and even more cats from rescue shelters, no matter what you think.

The people who make you laugh. The friends who appreciate your weirdness. Neighbors who don’t mind when you’re playing guitar at high volume. And if you’re really lucky, you will live long enough to know the love of your children’s children.

I am thankful to the point of shame. For great readers, listeners, co-workers and bandmates. For bosses who inspire and reward. For experiences and scar tissue that build a mountain. For two radio partners over two different decades who are great dudes and dear friends, with whom I trust my deepest secrets.

I am grateful for a front-row seat and a voice in our evolution as a big-league sports town. I am grateful for all my new friends and all my new subjects, namely Chris Paul and DeAndre Hopkins.

Happy Thanksgiving, Arizona. Not everyone gets as lucky as us. And remember, not everyone eats turkey.

Not this year.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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Bickley & Marotta

Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier