I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving 2012, in both my personal and professional lives. I’ll forgo the personal here, but share a few blessings I’ve had on the job this year:
The “pinch-me” bizarre campaign moments: Newt Gingrich promising to establish a U.S. moon base; Clint Eastwood berating an empty chair; Joe Biden chilling with the bikers; anyone at all taking Donald Trump seriously, ever, even for a nanosecond.
The stranger-than-fiction stories I covered: a U.S. Senate primary that featured, among many others, a surfing rabbi, a “birther” queen and an octogenarian mountain climber; the first one-on-one with Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi after her shoplifting conviction; a maniacally misinformed wedding-chapel owner in Reno; and, just this week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors suffering the consequences for banning public nudity.
My continued employment: The news industry’s massive downsizing in recent years has pushed out many talented and valued colleagues and friends. I’m a very lucky man to still be doing what I love, and I’m thankful for it every day.
My bosses: Many thanks to editors Ken McLaughlin and Mike Frankel for all the work, from the fine-tuning to the big revamps, they’ve put into my stories this year; I’m a better reporter and writer for working with them.
Some people I’ve covered have endured an awful 2012 to varying degrees, from the Oikos University massacre’s victims and their loved ones to the Lockyer family. I hold them and others in my thoughts today, and wish them a happier, healthier, brighter year to come.
Last Thanksgiving, 15th Congressional District candidate Eric Swalwell made the rounds of the long Black Friday shopping lines, serving coffee to constituents while hearing their concerns and trying to win their votes.
“This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful the voters have put their faith in me to listen to them at home and work for them in Washington,” he said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Thursday night I’ll be back in the lines serving coffee, thanking voters and listening to their top priorities.”
“I promised to be accessible and accountable,” he added. “I learned last year that this is a great way to chat with constituents and I’m excited to be back in line.”
Even turkeys need new feathers every few years. In this case, it is Brentwood Mayor Bob “Turkey” Taylor who donned new fowl duds for his annual charity drive for a local food pantry.
“”The tail feathers on the old one were shot up pretty good,” Taylor said.
And we most sincerely hope he is speaking figuratively.
The turkey tradition began a few years ago after Taylor put out a challenge to his elected peers: “If you donate money to my food pantry, I’ll wear a turkey suit!” He lost that bet and it has transformed into one of Taylor’s most endearing mayoral duties.
Here’s a look at the old vs. the new feathers.
Brentwood Mayor Bob 'Turkey' Taylor in 2009
Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor thanks Jim Myers, of Discovery Bay, while dressed as a turkey at MJ's downtown Cafe on Nov. 7, 2011, in Brentwood, Calif. Taylor was asking for donations for the Brentwood Regional Community Chest. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)
I find myself thankful for many things today – particularly the people I love, the creature comforts and little delights of life, and the fact that I still have a job doing what I enjoy most.
But, seeing as how this is a political blog, I’ll share here a few other things for which I give thanks today.
I’m thankful that a record 130 million Americans voted this month, including a record 24 million or so people ages 18 to 29; I hope this is the start of an historic reversal of apathy, a dawning civic re-engagement at all levels of government.
I’m thankful that we change our government and settle our political differences with ballots and celebrations, not with guns and mourning.
I’m thankful to have lived a life thus far largely free of the shadow of discrimination; I hope everyone will be able to say this someday.
I’m thankful that democracy and technology have conspired to provide many of us with more ways to express our views to more of each other than ever before in human history. I think we can only benefit from the dialogue, so long as we keep open minds.
And I’m thankful that, even as the economy struggles and so many people try to figure out what to do next, we live in a nation so wealthy, so resourceful, so secure that we can discuss numbers like “$7 trillion” as we look for containment and fixes. In too many parts of the world, a crisis far worse than what our nation now experiences still would be the best day people ever had. We live in a land of plenty, and we can and will find our way through tough times.