Things to be thankful for

TRAVERSE CITY — Last week I got my annual “What I’m Not Thankful For” list out of my system. Sorry. It had to happen. You ever try holding that many gripes and whines inside? Not easy or healthy. This week it’s time for a few utterly random things and people I’m thankful for. Such as:

– Newspaper readers. I know this sounds like pandering, but I think the root cause of many of our problems today is ignorance. And I use the word in the dictionary sense — a lack of knowledge or information. Newspapers are a known antidote to ignorance. In my view, people who read newspapers are sexy because knowledge is sexy. Wanna give someone the ultimate compliment this Christmas, give them a newspaper subscription. It’s you saying, “I know you value knowledge because you’re smart. Here’s more of it.” (Side point: Print papers impart knowledge better than computer screens. It’s a proven fact. So read and give the print edition.)

– I love dogs. My dogs, anyway. Your dogs are, frankly, a little out of control and smelly. Maybe you oughta do something about that.

– I haven’t had a teacher in decades. But I appreciate teachers more each passing year. These days they’re society’s punching bags, but they soldier on. The day we start paying them what they’re truly worth is the day we get stronger as a nation. Cops, firefighters, ambulance workers and military, as well. It baffles me why we revere these people but pay them jack-you-know-what.

– Whoever invented baseball. I love baseball because I grew up playing baseball. And I mean real baseball with a bunch of friends on a made-up diamond with bats held together with screws, ghost runners and automatic outs for hitting the ball to right field. That’s the best baseball of all. Organized baseball is also fine, but organized baseball means adults are involved and adults inevitably suck the fun out of everything.

“Saturday Night Live.” I know this is an odd thing to be thankful for and I know 80 percent of the skits aren’t funny in the slightest, but it’s been a constant my whole life. Even when I don’t watch it, it’s weirdly comforting to know that it’s there most Saturday nights. There are very few constants left in our media universe. This is one of them.

– Williams hot pepper cheese, produced in Linwood near Bay City. Love it. Best cheese ever. And while I’m on food, I won’t eat eggs (and many other things) unless there’s a bottle of Frank’s hot sauce handy. I used to be a Tabasco guy but Frank’s is better.

– My friends, including the casual ones, the besties, readers and social media pals. You’re all the same to me — I loves ya. Again, I know that sounds like pandering. And I guess it is. But I am fully aware that as a ridiculously opinionated human and incessant wise-acre, I can be difficult to be around. More and more, I appreciate those few who aren’t smart enough to realize there are easier people to be pals with. For that flaw in your character, I thank you.

– My family. Of course. Every annoying, wonderful one of them. And for the same reason as above. They stick with me despite my gaping flaws and my seeming inability to do anything about them, and for that I’m eternally puzzled but grateful.

Happy holiday, everyone.

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.