Steven Heller | Essays

The Bounty of Thanksgiving 2020

I am plagued by a number of numerological superstitions and phobias. My favorite digit is seven. My birth date is 7/7. Any number that adds up to seven or multiple thereof is lucky—others are not. As a kid I lived at 610 (6 + 1 + 0 = 7), on the 7th floor. I moved away from home at 17 (which has a seven in it). I worked for 34 years on west 43rd street (both numbers add up to 7) and lived for as many years at 7 West 16th street (two sevens). My current address adds up to seven too. I often add up the serial numbers on dollar bills to find a perfect seven (I have 25 dollars saved up). Hence, I instill seven (and derivatives) with considerable irrational power, conforming to a common myth that seven has mystical qualities. So, what does 2020, which only adds up to 4, have to do with all this? 2020 is the year of my 70th birthday, meaning that in my cosmology 2020 promised to be good year.  

2020 has not turned out well (with one notable exception). My 70th birthday came and went with little fanfare during this tragic pandemic and although I have not fallen victim to Covid-19, there is no attributable numerological reason. Instead, I finally realize that basing an iota of prescience regarding good or bad random numerical configurations is stupidity born of ignorance. Tea leaves may be more accurate. Just joking. In fact, looking for magical signs is the sign of a flaccid mind.

Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. The only entirely stress-free 24 hours of the year that inaugurates the period when the current calendar year begins to wind down and turns into a month of enforced reverie—the launch of the holiday season when year-end lists proliferate. Thanksgiving day marks the quiet before the storm, when life assumes a commodified celebratory pace until my least favorite holiday, New Year’s Eve, restarts the cycle again.

On Thanksgiving, everyone is expected to give and accept thanks and although 2020 hasn’t lived up to its numerological promise, there are still many things to be thankful for, damn it! So rather than take this opportunity to pine about the social distancing rigors that prevent enjoyment of spending time with family and friends or taking a week off from Design Observer this week, I am going to use this space to give thanks, quite literally, to the bounty that I received just a few days ago. It is the little things that mean so much.

For me, anticipating the probable Winter lock-down, I began restocking essential commodities. One of these is paper towels. Bounty is my brand, and apparently also many other consumers prefer them too. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it is that there is a difference between the quality and efficiency of paper towels. I’m here to tell you that Bounty is indeed “the quicker picker upper.” The scores of other leading and off-brands do not compare in the least. After trying for weeks unsuccessfully to find an online source or big box store that had not sold out, I found an affordable supply at Home Depot and was never as glad to see a crappy mainstream product logo. I stocked up, leaving plenty behind for other Bounty consumers. So, thank you Bounty and Home Depot for being there when you were needed most.

Have a peaceful, healthy and safe holiday season.

Jobs | July 17