This is the annual issue where we get all mushy (check the editorials) and show appreciation for the things and people we otherwise take for granted or don’t notice at all. (Here’s a secret: This issue comes out a day early and with all of us casting an eye toward the upcoming days off. So we’re all in a good mood, and being nice comes easy.) So let’s say thanks to:

The Pageant Theater; John Glick’s classic pick-up truck that you still see parked around town; the downtown businesses that are locally owned; Tom the Bank of America parking lot attendant; Duffy’s happy hour; David Guzzetti; Scott Teeple; that balding but pony-tailed guy you see walking across town at breakneck pace; an open and unmetered parking spot near work; the staff that works in the Chico Municipal Building; Mike McGinnis; Tom Haithcock and the Nature Center; the bike shops and Ed McLaughlin (both of them); The Synthesis for keeping us honest and pointing out our mistakes no matter how trivial and being such good sports when we give their staff a good-natured ribbing; and last, the readers of this column for being so understanding when they get something that is obviously filler.

The mother of all movie promotion tie-ins is upon us, kids. Watch TV and notice all of the Cat in the Hat-related advertisements you see. Right before I fell to sleep last night I think I saw the Cat testifying how his life had improved since his vet put him on Viagra. That’s not all. A few weeks ago I noticed a Cat in the Hat stamp was being used to postmark my incoming mail. Apparently the federal government has gotten in on the action and has a promotional contract with the movie, which came out last week. I found this on the U.S. Postal Service Web site: “The movie theater isn’t the only place you will see Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat this holiday season. Holiday shipping started October 18 at your local Post Office, and the Cat in the Hat is there to help—his image, that is. The U.S. Postal Service and Universal Studios have teamed up to bring customers easy, affordable solutions for their holiday shipping needs.”

This past weekend we experienced a “where were you when?” reminder—at least for about 40 percent of Americans. That’s because 57 percent of us are 40 years old or younger and have no recollection of that horrible Friday in Dallas in 1963. I do. I was in the second grade at Grill Elementary. Just before class let out that day, I could sense something was up with the adults. As we were boarding the bus to take us home, I asked Lester Conner what was going on. He was a sixth-grader, so I figured he knew. “The president was shot,” he said simply. Using my second-grader logic, I immediately deduced that the most likely suspect was the vice president, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Why not? He’d get to be president. When I got home, my sister, who was in the fourth grade, told me her teacher, Mrs. Strickland, had left the classroom briefly. Mrs. Strickland came back in, my sister said, sort of red-eyed, and proceeded to pull down a map of North America that hung above the blackboard. She pointed to the Arctic Circle and Canada and told her class the Russians would be invading from the north. That made sense to me because just a year or two earlier my babysitter, Mrs. Morgan, had told me not to eat the snow because the Russians had poisoned it with nuclear radiation.