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Thanks for what has come — and left

In the spirit of the season, things to be thankful for, politicians to turkeys.

1. We can be thankful for "change."

2. Election over, we also can be thankful that the word "change" is no longer lobbied about like a pingpong ball until it has no discernible meaning in the English language.

3. Given that election, we can give thanks for at last disproving the theory that we are an America so furtively and deeply racist that we would never put an African-American in the Oval Office.

4. And who isn't thankful for the glorious distraction that was our Rays this year, rocking the Trop, beating Boston, making it to the World Series. Afterward was like waking up from a very good dream.

5. Thanks to Tallahassee, where sometimes our Legislature actually does good, like the older driver vision test law and subsequent drop in fatalities of drivers 80 or older.

6. Thanks too, to our special Pinellas beaches hurricane mojo that kept the bad storms off our coast one more season.

7. Local politics to be thankful for: In case anyone had a gnat's eyelash of a doubt about booting Brian Blair from the Hillsborough Commission, Blair pitches a post-election hissy using an ugly hypothetical involving AIDS and the man who beat him. And with that, he shows us once again the true face of a politician soundly ousted. Thanks for the memories, Brian.

And by the way, who says activists have no sense of humor? A few helpful ones showed up post-election bearing packing boxes for Blair.

8. We can be thankful embattled Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson got the votes counted — okay, a couple of days late, and, oh, wait, there's that extra batch of absentees — on his way out the door. Thanks, too, for a great exit line to remember his strange tenure by, when he said, "You may not have seen the last of Buddy Johnson."

9. We should be thankful to have made it to a holiday all about being thankful, even in the current state of the world, a holiday of tradition but also one that evolves. In our house, tradition means great quantities of God's perfect food, mashed potatoes, and also a turkey properly roasted, none of that brining or frying or other sacrilege.

But it's also rice and gravy for the Southerners at the table, pasta for the Italian grandpa, something fancy involving sweet potatoes, pears and a food processor for the food snoots.

I have not yet dared challenge tradition on behalf of the vegetarians among us by adding a Tofurkey to the menu. But, oh, how tempting, if just to get a roomful of people saying "Tofurkey."

10. Thankful, these days? Jobs evaporate, and economic news goes from bad to worse, and still we find it in ourselves to care about a guy in Pasco County sent to jail for a yard not sodded.

Strangers rally to make it beautiful when he comes home. He is overwhelmed, and so are we.

Some of us even care enough to rally for the fate of wild chickens in Ybor City.

We care about an old bridge between St. Petersburg and Tampa, given over to cyclists and walkers and runners, and finally too old for that, even. Maybe we care because being able to cross the waters that separate us seems a fine thing some days. We don't seem to stop hoping we can fix what ails us around here.

And did I mention mashed potatoes?

Thanks for what has come — and left 11/26/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 1, 2008 1:30pm]

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