Attitude of gratitude

A preliminary attempt to have a great holiday season this year, no matter what

I’m stumped. I’ve hit the wall. I’ve run out of bad things to say. So I’m gonna be nice for a change, just this once.

This year, I’m approaching the holidays with an attitude of gratitude. It may sound cliché, but it also happens to be true: Every dark cloud does have a silver lining. Most of the time, anyway, if you get down on your knees and pray like a raving lunatic. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

So, in the spirit of the season, how ’bout a shout-out to my boy George W. Bush for extending the unemployment benefits of thousands of out-of-work Americans last week? It’s a shame he’s waited until his departure from the White House to show us his kinder, gentler side.

He is leaving, isn’t he?

• • •

Having an attitude of gratitude doesn’t mean you have to bend over for everybody, but it does mean embracing fuzzy concepts such as hope and change.

Therefore, I’m hopeful that President Barack Obama will shoot out of the gate like Secretariat come Inauguration Day. Strong executive leadership combined with bold, united congressional action could indeed alter the course of the economic downturn.

If we allow ourselves to fully embrace hope and change, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reversing America’s belligerent foreign policy and re-earning the world’s respect seem like distinct possibilities. We might even go so far as to imagine a new New Deal, putting Americans to work building tomorrow’s infrastructure today.

It’s a matter of setting America’s priorities. Given the gravity of the economic, energy and environmental problems we’re facing, I hope we’ll all hold the incoming administration and Congress accountable. That’s the only way we’ll ever get the change we want. As the saying goes, you can hope in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.

• • •

Oh, yeah. I was gonna be nice. So it’s over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go, and I am so filled with joy, my heart has expanded three times its normal size. When that happened to my dad when he was my age, they called it coronary arrest. I call it an attitude of gratitude, and I am forever in debt to my senior financial adviser.

I mean that figuratively and literally. I still owe Dad some of the money he lent me last year for a tooth implant. (Can you believe $4,000 for a single tooth?) Most of the time, though, it’s his mind I pick, not his pocket. You’ve got to stay razor-sharp in this whipsaw economy.

Case in point: Anyone notice gasoline recently dipped down below $2 per gallon? How can that be? Isn’t inflation supposed to be driving the cost of everything up? And if inflation is driving the cost of everything up, how come home prices have dropped through the floor? What about the stock-market crash?

If you’d like to ponder the answers to these and other free-market conundrums until the veins bulge out on your forehead, drop by the folks’ house the day after Thanksgiving. My senior economic adviser and I will surely have alienated the rest of the family by then, and be in dire need of a new audience.

• • •

Speaking of audience, I’d be remiss not to offer heartfelt thanks on this most joyous occasion to you, the reader.

The other day, my new best buddy Rupert Murdoch dropped a bombshell on the mainstream media, most of which he owns: Rumors to the contrary, the newspaper is alive and well and not going anywhere soon.

I believe him, and that’s because I believe in readers. My mom (who, needless to say, deserves all of the credit and none of the blame) started me reading books at an early age. Like everything else I’ve ever picked up, I’ve never put reading back down. Newspapers, magazines and periodicals are addicting; there will always be a core audience who can’t live without them.

You, dear reader, my sweet little alphabet addict, are a part of our core audience, and for that, I have an everlasting attitude of gratitude.

At least through the holidays.