Furman Bisher, the revered, longtime sports writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, used to write a Thanksgiving column each November that I anticipated in a way other news readers of my generation anticipated Ann Landers’ occasional columns assuring bored housewives it was perfectly normal if they enjoyed doing housework in the nude. (OK, I was both of those readers. In my adolescent imagination, those bored housewives all looked like Raquel Welch.)

Each Bisher column would be, in turn, serious and mirthful, as he gave thanks for things big and small, subtly reminding us of what we often take for granted.

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of columnists, usually also on the sports beat, try to emulate those Bisher columns of yore. I suppose imitation, even pale imitation, really is the sincerest form of flattery, but the attempts I’ve seen are just bad forgeries. I’ve got better sense than to try to go there.

Instead, why don’t we turn Thanksgiving on its head? Instead of giving thanks for what we have on the one day set aside for it, do it the other 364 days on the calendar. But on Thanksgiving Day, let us not give thanks for what we have but instead ask for what we want. I’ll go first (it was my idea):

I want a job selling something – vacuum cleaners, encyclopedias, salvation, whatever – door to door, and I want bored housewives, who look like an ageless Raquel Welch, to answer the door in the nude (to prove Ann Landers wasn’t making those letters up).

I want professional athletes, rock stars and other pop culture icons to get together and say, “You know what? Our influence is outsized. Why don’t we fire our publicists and give half our shoes to people who are truly barefoot?”

I want you faithful readers to know I’m thankful for each of you. Writing these columns wouldn’t be as much fun without you coming up to me on the sidewalk or in a queue somewhere and sharing your opinions.

My daughter just got married. I want, of course, for her to be happy, but I also want my new son-in-law to feel comfortable talking to me, enough so to call me by my first name when trouble arises and say, “Your daughter is confounding me. What should I do?” Just so I can answer, “What are you asking me for? I just changed her diapers. I never could change her mind.”

I want “Bow Down in Jericho” to be required reading in high schools. 

I want the divine to speak to those who hate, whether with weapons or words, whether at home or abroad, and soften their hearts and enlarge their brains.

I want the Coen brothers to make movies forever. I want the Koch brothers to spend their fortune colonizing Mars, and leave Earth alone.

I want a universal law that requires people to be well-informed or to lead interesting lives before sharing their views or their news on social media.

I want a woman president, even if it is Hillary.

I want more clowns in Congress and the General Assembly so I’ll have more material to write about. And I’m the first to acknowledge that it’s low-hanging fruit. (I don’t really want that; I’d be as grateful as anyone if we elected enlightened leaders with critical thinking skills and moral compassion who could lead this country back to the greatness it once showed.)

I want certain people to stop fretting about this time every year over a “war on Christmas” that doesn’t exist. Just because some peddlers, recognizing a diverse, even uncertain, customer base, say “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” doesn’t mean Christmas is under siege. If you don’t believe me, look around after you finish reading this issue. Observe how quickly snowflakes and elves replace turkeys and Pilgrims in store displays. If you want to get angry about something, get angry that retailers are “celebrating” Christmas earlier each year. That’s the real sacrilege.

One more thing:  I want you faithful readers to know I’m thankful for each of you. Writing these columns wouldn’t be as much fun without you coming up to me on the sidewalk or in a queue somewhere and sharing your opinions.

Enjoy Thanksgiving. If you want second helpings, just ask.

Biz Bits 

Beware. There’s an old scam with new life out there. Subscribers to a variety of publications are receiving fraudulent renewal notices. The rates are generally higher than what you would really be charged. The notices may arrive in the mail or online, and a clue is that payment is to be directed to Associated Publishers Subscription Services, Magazine Billing Network, United Publishers Service, publisherpayment.com or any of a number of like-sounding names. While publishers often do outsource subscription services to a third party, they do not direct payment to any name other than the publication itself. Another clue is if the renewal notice directs payment to an address in Nevada. If you’re in doubt, check your latest copy of the publication for a customer service contact.

The 14th annual Lavender Mountain Anthology, featuring works by some of Northwest Georgia’s published authors, is in production and will be in local stores in time for Christmas stockings

It being an election year, it was possibly tougher to put together the signing ceremony in October for the deepening of the Savannah River and its ocean channel serving the ports of Brunswick and Savannah than it was to put together the actual project. After all, there was no partisan bickering over the importance of the project to Georgia’s economy. Even Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, four years ago, called it his top economic development project (this man, remember, has a rather busy airport in his own yard). But it was a foregone deal for a little while despite years-long delays, not all of which were borne out of reason – environmental lawsuits (all settled); the Army Corps of Engineers twice asking for more methodical study; and South Carolina, home of the rival Charleston port, throwing its own litigious gum into the works. Now digging can begin – deepening the channel to 47 feet for a length of 41 miles to accommodate new super-sized container ships coming through the Panama Canal.

But the Georgia Ports Authority has been announcing new contracts and growth numbers for some time while the politicians coordinated the spotlight moment. That finally happened in October. There really is wind in these sails; the deepening will have an economic ripple effect throughout Georgia.

Finally this: The Green Bay Packers are selling 22-ounce bratwurst grilled in beer and cheese at home games this season. You’d want a quick death, too, if you lived in Wisconsin in the winter.

J. Bryant Steele was first published when he was 14 and has made a living stringing words together for 40 years. But the main reason he writes is to avoid housework. He has won 50 or so writing awards. He is a graduate of the Grady School of Journalism (The University of Georgia) and of Education for Ministry (The University of the South). He also publishes poetry and fiction. He is the proud father of two magnificent adult children. He is also very opinionated.