There are so many things Northland residents can be thankful for today that it's hard to whittle it down to just 10. But everyone does top-10 lists, right? So as you gather with family and friends today for the Thanksgiving holiday - whether at home, at Grandma's house, at someone else's house, at the 29th annual free Twin Ports Thanksgiving Buffet at the DECC, or elsewhere - feel free to add to this list. Treat it as just a starter list in the annual remembering of reasons to be appreciative.
1. The end of the election. And it really is over, too - so thankfully. In the vacuum of all the sickening and dishonest attack ads, we can encourage healing and reuniting, recognizing that most races this year were close, that all political persuasions scored victories, and that civility and respect are needed in urging our elected officials to work for the needs of all constituents and less for their parties.
2. Simple, everyday things like family, a traffic light being green when in a hurry, the smiles of strangers that abound around these parts, the sun bursting out during an otherwise-gloomy day, even sleeping in.
3. Our great neighbors and engaged community. Everyone knows "Minnesota nice." How about our "Duluth nice" and "Northland nice," right? How we all work together after a snowstorm. How we pitch in when someone needs a hand. How quick we are with directions or whatever else others need. And how we all come together to offer our input and insights on issues that determine our shared futures, ensuring that the path forward is the right one.
4. Our best-in-the-country outdoor recreation, even if a magazine didn't say so this year like in past years. From fat-tire biking to surfing in November to ATV riding to simple hikes along the Superior Trail to golfing on our public municipal courses to the beauty of the North Shore, every time we're outside around here we certainly can be thankful.
5. Our world-class athletes, including our NCAA national-championship-winning University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs hockey team, our gold medal-winning hockey players and curlers, and our oh-so-close-to-winning-the-league-title Duluth Huskies baseball club. May they inspire our many youth and school-aged players to strive not only for greatness but also for maximum effort and good sportsmanship. May they motivate kids just to be more active.
6. Our rich arts, including our own symphony; ballet company; and professional, community, college, and high school theater companies. There are so many opportunities here for creative people, including writing groups, bands, and acting groups.
7. Rush-hour traffic that isn't often all that rushed - especially with the first phase of the Superior Street project and the Mesaba Avenue and other road work about all wrapped up.
8. High-quality health care and health care education opportunities.
9. Our sudden abundance of craft brewers and all the tasty suds they produce.
10. Our four seasons. Yes, even winter, as long and as dark as it may sometimes seem. We get it all here: open-water and ice fishing, lawn mowing and snow removal, gardening and raking, crisp fresh air, garden-fresh vegetables, spectacular sunrises over the big lake, powerful waves when the lake turns angry, and even the beauty of both dewy and frosty mornings.
11 Grape salad on every Minnesotans' table today. OK, this one's a joke. But this isn't: Northlanders' great sense of humor. May all the ones you love be around your Thanksgiving celebration today and may the mood be joyful.
Looks like this top-10 list stretched to 11. As we said, there's a lot to be thankful for today and every day here. And once in a while, yes, it's OK to forget our challenges and to think only of positives.
What can you add to the list?