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Bill Shipp - Thanksgiving brings joy and sadness

"I hope you have a lonely Thanksgiving," Ken no-last-name e-mailed me last week. He said he was a supporter of Sen. Saxby Chambliss. He was really mad at me for suggesting that old Sax might not be another Daniel Webster or Sam Nunn. I suppose Ken didn't read that I am betting a wad ($50) on his guy Saxby to win the special election against Democratic iron man "Boss Jim" Martin.

In any event, Ken's wish came true. Oh, sure, my kids were present for the big turkey carving, as were most of my grandchildren. There was a lot of laughter and noisemaking and indigestion.

Every adult at our house has a job and, thankfully, not many worthless bank shares. No recession has shown up around here yet. Everybody is healthy and has health insurance. We are fortunate and thankful.

Still, I miss Reny. My bride of more than a half century was not present. She died in July after a long battle with cancer and heart trouble. I can't get over losing her. Reny was not just my wife. She was my dearest friend and guardian.

I miss hearing her say, as she did every year at this time, "No more wine for you, Buster. You have had enough." This year, I drank only orange juice. Reny would have been proud.

She would take great pleasure in having her adoring family around. Edie and Michelle, our two daughters, and our granddaughters, Kati and Hillary, would make such a fuss over her and tell her how great she looked.

She would slip them a bit of cash and whisper, "Don't tell Papa." Of course, they told me immediately. It was part of our annual pre-Christmas shakedown.

Reny was looking forward to seeing Jessie too, who couldn't make it this year. She's the other granddaughter, married to Mark, a decorated Marine Corps sergeant waiting to deploy (again) to the Middle East. They gave us a great-granddaughter with another great-grandchild on the way.

It's too bad we can't tell these infants a couple of things they need to know before they set out on life's journey.

We need to tell them how lucky they are. They have been sent to the most wonderful democracy the world has ever seen - a nation in which anyone, regardless of class or financial standing, can achieve anything.

We also need to warn them that the present generation has not been as smart or honest as some previous ones. If our founding fathers were still around, they might be plotting a new revolution. We should inform our new kids that they may have to work harder than we did, and that they may not enjoy the good life that many of us relished. We should tell them that we the people are directly responsible for those shortcomings. We elected to lead us stupid and, in some cases, venal and even deranged people who have not served well the present or the future.

They started needless wars, defiled our economic system and allowed the middle class to wither in an American society that is drowning in public debt. Our national government has been mismanaged for eight long years. Our state government has not been managed at all in recent times.

We have chosen a new set of national leaders, and they seem to have set out in a different direction. For the kids' sake, I hope it is the right direction.

If they are destined to grow up in Georgia, they are in luck. Georgia is a great state with ample opportunity, but, alas, our state is even more beset with horrendous problems than our nation. Our public schools are among the worst in the country, though we pay our teachers the highest base salaries in the South. Our transportation system is a chaotic mess, and our public health network, including mental health, is in a nose dive.

We have a House speaker nicknamed Romeo and a governor called Sonny. With names like that, one would think they would be a barrel of fun. Unfortunately, they don't generate chuckles. Romeo and Sonny have not accomplished much, yet I'll take Sonny any day over Romeo.

I digress. The future looks better than our immediate past. New hope is on the horizon; a better day is just ahead. We should give thanks for those blessings.

Even so, Ken, I had a lonely Thanksgiving.

I miss my wife terribly even in this crowd. And I still miss Ernie, our son who was killed in an auto crash on a Thanksgiving weekend long ago.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net, or Web address: billshipponline.com.