Consolation and Gravy

By Kellyn Brown

As a recession takes root, it’s an ominous time to break bread and reflect on that for which we are most thankful. From plummeting 401(k)s to skyrocketing jobless claims, a litany of concerns squeezes a general public already feeling pinched.

Add to that the stress of the holidays – mall crowds, picky spouses and plump bellies – and it’s enough to submerge your face in gravy, hoping by the time you surface February will have arrived. Giving thanks at this relatively gloomy hour may sound forced.

But I’m going to do it anyway. Because the alternative is writing about policy or politics, and either is sure to put myself, and you, in a sour mood. And, despite my knack for cynicism, I love the holidays. The music. The cold weather. The chaos. I’m thankful for all of it. And, no matter how hard it tries, the economy can’t drown those sentiments.

There’s more. I’m thankful for my neighbors on the eastside of Kalispell, who can’t know how much I appreciate it when they rake a portion of my lawn. They’re truly selfless. They have their own yard to rake. I despise the chore, which I am somehow bad at.

I’m thankful for Guns N’ Roses releasing their first album in 15 years. Few things are capable of helping you forget a recession, while simultaneously making you feel a tad younger, than listening to 46-year-old Axl Rose croon again. Plus, in a weird marketing ploy, Dr Pepper is making good on its promise to give away free sodas to celebrate the occasion. Anything free should be capitalized upon.

I’m thankful the election is over.

I’m thankful for the new stores that have cropped up around Kalispell, despite the obvious risks. To be sure, there are still vacant storefronts, but from Fawn Boutique to the Avalanche Creek Bakery, young entrepreneurs remain willing to invest in the heart of the valley’s largest city.

I’m thankful for my family, a tight-knit bunch that offers unconditional support and instilled in me at a young age an appreciation for this season. From the bright lights that blanket my childhood home, to the eight-foot high tree that stands in the window, the Browns go big. It makes for a holiday that is part “It’s a Wonderful Life” and another part “A Christmas Story.”

I’m thankful gas prices are under $2.

I’m thankful I live in Montana, and not New York, or Washington, D.C., or any other city where the recent crisis hangs heavier over the skyline. Instead, while keeping one keen eye on our policymakers, the other can keep things in perspective: on the Swan Range, Glacier Park and a night sky visible even within city limits. Until you leave, it’s easy to forget how rare the latter is.

I’m thankful for this job and you, the readers. The Flathead has a hardy, compassionate and opinionated population. They care deeply about their valley and are quick to point out when they disagree with you about its direction. Yet the alternative is certainly worse: residents who care little about the place they call home.

That wasn’t too hard. Even for economic wonks, this week should provide a small helping of time to remember that it’s bad, but not all bad. So take your face out of the gravy and pass it on down the line. Neither your cynicism, nor mine, will fix much.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.