“General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
– Hugh Grant, “Love, Actually”
Christmas, in my world, starts about a week before Thanksgiving at the latest. If I can get away with it, it starts November 2. I can never, I should note, get away with that. And part of celebrating Christmas, to me, is celebrating Thanksgiving. I suspect that’s because I tend towards the misanthropic, so the idea of gratitude makes for a nice respite.
So, without further preamble, here’s my list of things for which I am grateful.
My old friend, Frank. Eleven years ago I was not in the holiday spirit. I was, in fact, downright Grinchy. Frank suggested we go see Love, Actually, which was unusual because he was forever dragging me to dramas that sounded good until I sat down in a dark theatre. I slept through a lot of fine cinema in Frank’s company. This time, though, he must have sensed I could use a boost. I left that movie feeling as good as I felt as a kid opening presents at my parents’ house. It, along with Home for the Holidays, The Ref, and Holiday Inn, are among my favorite holiday movies.
New sewers. Wow, that’s a 180 in gratitude, I know, but I need to do this, because I’ve harassed Gulfport’s Public Works Director Don Sopak in print and in person about this so much I’m amazed he hasn’t filed a restraining order. Last week, the city started evaluating the sewers to determine the extent of repair needed, and while I called Don to complain about the gurgling noise the testing made my toilets make, I neglected to mention how happy I was we were doing this.
Liberals like Mayor Sam Henderson and Yolanda Roman, and any liberal, anywhere, in office. This election scared me, both in the lack of turnout and the results. As I drove through Georgia last week I realized how strongly the Tea Party has divided this country and fostered hate. Stay strong, please, and also, local guys, thanks for keeping your partisan politics out of our local politics.
Vice Mayor Christine Brown, who has been an endless source of surprises. She’s been able to put partisan politics aside for the good of Gulfport, and you would never know she was a Republican by watching her in meetings. I actually suspect she may not be, but I don’t want to be the one to tell her that.
Ward One Councilman Dan Liedtke. I have to sigh when I say this. He’s so incredibly conservative, I want to dislike him, but I can’t, because he’s our token conservative. He makes my brain hurt when he gets started on any sort of conservative rant, but he also makes me think. On a local level, he’s the one who gets aggressive about saving the city money, and while I don’t always agree with how he wants to do it, I appreciate that someone’s paying attention.
Lesley DeMuth and Jim O’Reilly. Lesley is Gulfport’s city clerk and Jim is our city manager, and I couldn’t report on city business without the level of cooperation they give me. Let me be clear: I’m not friends with these people, and at times our jobs are at odds. Even then, when it would be easy for them to mire me in bureaucracy when I make a request, they don’t. Gulfport is lucky to have them both, and I am lucky to have a job that allows me to deal with city staff that doesn’t see the media as the enemy.
Every one of our police officers and firefighters. I have no way to thank you eloquently for what you’re willing to risk to keep everyone else safe, so please just know that you all have my gratitude.
My editor, Shelly Wilson. She came on board this year after a several-year absence from the Gabber, and I hate her. Oh, not all the time, just mostly on Wednesdays and Tuesdays, of course, where she’s hassling me about doing my job properly. If you’ve seen any changes in the paper lately, that’s her hand at work. We’re making some changes to make the paper better for you, and while bringing a new position into the mix has not been without minor pitfalls, just know that for every mistake you may see as we revamp our editorial process, she’s caught about seven we ordinarily wouldn’t. It’s been an absolute bitch for her to come up to speed, and I’m not certain she knows how much I appreciate having her around.
Our hound dog, Banyan. She could be a coonhound, according to the shelter she called home for far too long. I’d likely call her a goofhound, because this dog is the Jack Tripper of dogs. I am in love with this dog, and although Calypso may not be as thankful as I am for her, I believe she’ll come around and by this time next year they’ll be best buddies.
My mom and dad. They didn’t raise me perfectly, but from what I’ve seen, they definitely scored in the 98th percentile.
El Cap. He saves me every day from being the bitter, cranky old lady I can see in my head. He lets me be myself –which is to say, just crazy enough – without letting me be self-destructive. It’s a fine line. I am no picnic as a partner, rest assured. I’m not sure what he keeps going back to that keeps him from dropping rat poison in my coffee and dumping my body in Clam Bayou, but I’m lucky and forever grateful.
You guys. You read this column, and you write or call to tell me you love it or you hate it. This never ceases to amaze me, and I’m grateful every day that you keep reading and thinking. I love that you care enough to make this column a thing, and, more importantly, that you care enough to keep the Gabber a thing. Thank you.