by Joe Shea
November 25, 2010
WHAT I'M THANKFUL FOR
BRADENTON, Fla., Nov. 25, 2010 -- When they turned out my lights two weeks ago, I had a neighbor who loaned me $200, and I was able to pay him back from my Social Security check two days later. I'm grateful, indeed, to him.
When my Internet got turned off a day later, I got a check from Google AdSense that allowed me to buy gas, pay that bill and also our web hosting and to eat at McDonald's several times. I'm grateful to Google.
I'm also grateful to McDonald's for that wonderful gift of coupons that came in the paper last week, full of free good things to eat and drink. It's the only place I can afford to eat besides at home these days, and even if they are criticized all the time, they feed millions who can't otherwise afford a meal. Thank you from one of those.
When I ran out of gas several times recently, people of all kinds helped me. A Sysco distributor restocking a Chevron bought me a gallon of gas. Others helped push my car. They took my money, went to buy gas and came back with it. They helped jump-start my battery. At Walmart, an off-duty clerk paid for my food purchase when I didn't have enough. I am deeply grateful to all of them.
Gifts from our Correspondents, my brothers and small loans from my friend Harry have kept me going this long, long Fall. I am more grateful than I can say.
We live in difficult times. They are hard for working journalists, for freelancers, for online publications dependent on ads or subscriptions or gifts or syndication - or their own unlined pockets - and yet they keep doing their work as their values guide them. I am grateful to all of them, and to our subscribers, for maintaining amid many difficulties a voice that is sometimes heard amid the great roar of the world.
I am grateful for President Obama. While I can't say that health care reform has had any impact on my lack of health care, or that his financial reform bill got me even a penny back from E*Trade when their servers failed to function appropriately, I am grateful for his equanimity. He has led with a calm, quiet voice, never shaming us with bad personal behavior or stupid remarks or unnecessary provocations, and has continued to smile brightly and maintain a sense of humor long after some of us have lost those essential keys to survival.
I am grateful that the Republican party has taken on the role of the "Party of No," ensuring most recently that my unemployed neighbors and friends get no more unemployment benefits and lose their ability to pay bills, keep up their property and vehicles, pay taxes, buy clothes and gifts for the kids and sleep at night. That experience gives one a real appreciation of the Republican Party, and not a moment too soon.
I am grateful to the Democrats for piling their party into a punching bag, tugging the drawstring inward to close the top, and allowing themselves to be smacked silly day and night at the polls, on cable tv and in the minds of the American people. That is a salutary experience for a political party, and it will provide lessons about fighting back, changing course and renewing itself that will be invaluable in 2012. I'm also grateful for the Thanksgiving turkey they're serving to us at party headquarters in Manatee County this afternoon.
I am grateful for this computer that my brother helped me buy from Michael Dell to replace the year 2000 Sony Digital Studio I bought just before Christmas 10 years ago. While it's taken time to learn the ins and outs of Windows 7 and to harness even a small part of its enormous computing potential, it's relieved me of the worst part of producing an online daily newspaper, which is technological weakness, uncertainty and unreliability. It is a magnificent machine, Mr. Dell, and I am very grateful for it.
It is not only traditional and patriotic to salute the men and women who fight and die for our country every day, so many of whom are so far from home at Thanksgiving, or are never coming home; it is also, as the great Abraham Lincoln said, beyond my poor capacity to honor them as only their beloved nation and the pages of history can. I am as grateful as God has given me the power to be for all of them and for their sacrifice.
But what is it that makes life worth living today? It is other people. They are the lake I swim in, the river I run with, the light and air I breathe. If I could add up the people who nodded, smiled, sang, joked and shared with me, who gave me a break, a clue, an answer, who came to the telephone or wrote or responded, who cared enough to engage with me in the myriad business of life, I would be found to be a very, very wealthy and happy man.
And so I am, and for that I am most grateful to them and to the God who made us all. Thank you, my Creator. You've outdone Yourself once again.