Cook column: Thanksgiving 2008 feels different

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 21, 2008

What should Americans be thankful for this Thanksgiving?
The question popped up as we were brainstorming Thanksgiving story ideas. This has been a tumultuous year for the United States and much of the world, and political rifts are as great as ever.
Between unemployment, the stock market, war and political differences, there are some clouds hanging overhead.
But you know as well as I do that the nation stil has many strengths and blessings. We at the Post would like to gather readers’ thoughts on what the United States and its citizens should be thankful for this year.
We first published this request on Thursday, and several people have sent their thoughts to us.
If at all possible, please respond by e-mail, sending your message to E-mail is quick and easy, and Thursday will be here before you know it.
Otherwise, responses may be dropped off at the Post at 131 W. Innes St., faxed to 704-639-0003 or mailed to Elizabeth Cook, Salisbury Post, P.O. Box 4639, Salisbury, N.C. 28144. The deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Please include your name and daytime telephone number, and keep it short if you can ó 250 words or less.
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As usual, the Christmas season and Thanksgiving are overlapping. I like to take note of when I hear the first Christmas song of the year, and two weeks ago was a perfect 2008 moment.
I was standing in line to pay for gasoline at a local station ó the first one I’d seen with $1.99-a-gallon gas. For some reason, after I swiped my card through the gas pump mechanism, the little screen said I needed to see the cashier inside.
So I did. And while Gene Autry sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” over the station’s sound system, the cashier told me my credit card was being rejected.
She didn’t know why, but suddenly I remembered a missed payment.
Actually ó here come the excuses ó it was a late payment, but the check was probably still in the mail.
Is the credit crunch so bad that a company will cut you off that quickly? Surely this was a mistake.
I had other cards I could use whose bills had been paid on time. But the situation irked me. That $1.99 gas was no longer attractive. The tank still had a few gallons.
Back to work.
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So it’s time to plan the Thanksgiving feast.
Usually I spend a lot of time on this, but 2008 is different. Time has evaporated. I’m beginning to understand why some families go the restaurant route on major holidays.
But surrender is out of the question. With two 20-something daughters home for the holiday, it’s time to put my delegating skills to work.
This, I realize, is one of the advantages of having grown children nearby or at least home for the holiday. You can share the bounty and the work.
We have been blessed with three daughters who love to cook and are good at it, hallelujah. Add that to my list of things to be thankful for.
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Newspaper readers will be on my list, too. You hear a lot these days about the struggling newspaper industry. Are any industries not struggling this year?
The people who sell electronic signs to gas stations seem to be doing well ó the better to keep up with rapidly changing prices. For a while there, prices seemed to be changing faster than a person could climb up a ladder to change the numbers manually.
People who sell Tasers seem to be doing brisk business. As are all the folks who handle legal proceedings and paper work in connection with foreclosures.
Somebody has to do it.
But I digress. We at the Post are ever grateful for people who make it a habit to read the newspaper ó in paper form, as well as electronically.
Our business is evolving, with the Internet enabling us to deliver news instantly to computer users who want their news that way.
But most Post readers like to hold a paper in your hands and read it back to front ó even if you’re skimming most of the stuff in between. There’s no real substitute.
I will say this about the Internet. It puts a world of information at your fingertips. I know many folks like my own parents don’t want anything to do with computers, much less the Internet. It’s unknown and scary. They don’t know how to begin to learn about it.
But the online world contains endless information about every topic under the sun ó health, finances, politics, you name it. And it offers a quick, virtually free way to communicate with family and friends ó e-mail. If you’re thinking about giving it a try, you won’t be sorry.
You can move forward and use new things and still value the old traditions ó like Thanksgiving.
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Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.