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Silver Threads: Giving thanks for a few timely innovations

Actor and localite John Goodman must be very grateful this Thanksgiving: He’s strutting in the back-to-back movie hits “Argo” and “Flight,” and Hollywood South is thriving, too.

The New Orleans Saints can be thankful that they’ve come out of a sad, sad slump  — not in time to actually play in the Super Bowl this year — but to be prouder hosts of it than they might have been.

We can all be grateful that our interesting and unique city recently got high marks in Travel and Leisure magazine and is certain to cash in as tourists from the other 49 U.S. of A.– and some spots across the ponds — knock on our door.

And everybody, not just the folks who live in Plaquemines parish, should give thanks that it didn’t snow after Hurricane Isaac. Imagine!

Thinking about Thanksgiving got me to thinking about that first one: no dishwashers, no Butterball turkeys, no frozen pecan pies, no central heating in the dining room or anywhere else in the house. No canned onion rings to go on top of the canned French-cut green beans and mushroom soup. I’ll bet I can conjure up pioneering hardship better than you can: One of my grandmothers cooked her family’s Thanksgiving Day dinners on a wood stove; for the other, fixing a chicken pot pie meant beginning by catching the bird and wringing its neck.

I also got to thinking about all the modern conveniences for which I’m grateful, in addition to the timeless benefits we’ve always enjoyed. In no particular order:

  • Mammograms and neurosurgeons and lasers and retinal specialists and, yes, colonoscopies because they’ve saved my life, vision and made it possible for me to live without pain.
  • Chocolate and bourbon and cigarettes and doctors who don’t ask me if I still smoke.
  • The Wednesday, Friday and Sunday Times-Picayunes, even though I sometimes read parts of them with a magnifying glass, and my e-reader, which makes it possible not to need one when I‘m engrossed in a novel.
  • Strangers who take extra steps to help me get my dry-cleaning in the car, and clerks who don’t call me “Sweetie.”
  • My little dog, who is always overjoyed to see me or is a very good actress.
  • Oysters on the half-shell and char-broiled ones, and corn and crawfish bisque and gumbo with okra and shrimp etouffee and redfish and lobsters. And cannelloni and pho with beef and bok choy and muffulettas and the general’s chicken. And hot tamales, of course.
  • Old friends whom I meet again after 50 years and both of us say, “You haven’t changed a bit.”
  • DVRs, because I don’t like watching television commercials, and TV dramas without loud background music.
  • Shoes that come in size 10 1/2 narrow and sometimes go on sale.
  • Grandsons who get my computer printer to working again and take some of the bass out of our television speakers and show me how the new apps on my e-reader work. Who laugh and horse around and make me happy just to watch them.
  • A daughter who’s smart and kind and loyal, and doesn’t comment on my hairstyle or clothing as much as I do on hers; my husband, who still thinks I look good; and my little sisters. One of them can‘t remember much at all, but she still remembers me.

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at


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