The gratitude game

In Openly Straight, Rafe Goldberg’s family plays a game on Thanksgiving called “The Gratitude Game.” In it, they go around in a circle saying things for which they are grateful. The catch: they only have five seconds to come up with something, they can’t repeat anything, and if they fail, they’re out. The winner is the last one standing.

I made this game up, actually, as I was writing the book. Turns out it’s an actual thing. Since the book came out in 2013, I’ve heard from several readers, wondering how I knew about their family’s game. I dunno. Writing is weird. Yesterday I was writing a scene and I just knew I needed a quote from General Macarthur. I barely remember anything beyond that he was a World War II general, but somehow, there was a quote and it was just perfect. “You are remembered for the rules you break,” he said. I have never heard of Macarthur saying this.

How I knew what I needed there, when I really had NO IDEA, is a fascinating topic I’ll have to touch on some other time.

Anyhow, The Gratitude Game.

A friend of mine often says, “If you live a life of gratitude, it’s hard to be unhappy.”

I’ve found that at the times my brain isn’t quite working, it’s pretty darn hard to get to gratitude. But right now, today, my brain is working just fine. So I thought I would look back at 2014 and play with myself.

I should be more specific. Play “The Gratitude Game” with myself.

I promise not to cheat. I will allow myself no more than five seconds for each thing, and the only adjustment is that here I will take a moment to explain myself for each thing that needs explanation. But when I’m done, the five second clock will be back on.

Here goes:

My health – I’ve had some weird kidney stuff this year, but thankfully a naturopathic doctor helped me heal my kidneys and as of this moment I am fine!

Naturopathic Medicine!

Yoga – Getting into yoga of late. Namaste.

Chuck – Yikes. He should probably go first, no?

Buford – Our new puppy. Hellion. Sweetie pie.

Mabel – The Best Little Girl in the world.

Matzoh – (Spelling?) This is one of those where I almost ran out of time. I have not eaten Matzoh (spelling?) this year, but I suppose I’m grateful for unleavened bread.

Chicken, fried – Nothing better than fried chicken! See damaged kidneys.

Candy – See previous comment.

My mother – in trouble again for having her below candy.

My sister – Who gets me in some ways that no one else does.

My dad – For his sweetness and his puns, heavily featured in The Porcupine of Truth

My brother – My buddy!

My nephews and nieces! – Five of ’em now!

Alcohol – Weird. Just the first thing that came to mind. I barely drink. No, really.

Cheerios – My mind is suddenly in a weird food place.

Devil Dogs – ‘Nuff said.

Scholastic – My publishing house! Love everyone there.

Cheryl Klein – My editor. Awesome in every way.

Arthur Levine – My publisher. Awesome in every way.

Linda Epstein – My agent, friend, champion. When I don’t have the strength to fight for me, she somehow does.

Moth balls – Again, almost ran out of time.

Computers – How would I live without them?


Cardboard – So many uses

SCBWI – The Sid Fleischman Award. So grateful.

Other authors – So that I don’t go a million lines, I won’t name all the authors I love and those who inspire me. I could go about 70 deep here, but I won’t. You may or may not know that I am grateful for your inspiration, so all authors, thank you.

My friends – Ditto. So many to thank. I love, love, love my friends.

Second chances – And third, fourth, etc. I make mistakes sometimes.

God’s patience – Yes, I believe. And I am so glad that I get a chance to right the ship, so to speak. When I’m off path, I am given the time I need to get back on.

Being gay – It’s given me so many gifts. Love, the understanding of what it means to be different, pain and loneliness, something different about me, a platform from which to speak.


I lost! After being gay, my brain shut down. I’d like to use that sentence in a book sometime.

Happy 2015, all! I wish you all good things in the year to come!