This may not be the merriest Thanksgiving in recent memory, since people feel as if they've been beaten senseless by large, black newspaper headlines for the past two months. A few years ago, we'd read stories in the newspaper about stuffing your turkey with diced emu livers braised in saffron; now, you expect newspaper stories about how you can stuff your turkey with newspaper stories, or use the cardboard Stove Top box to extend the recipe. But here's a brash prediction: On Friday, you will not be able to find a parking space at the Mall of America. Doesn't mean people are going to swipe their cards until they grind down the embossed numbers, but they'll be there. I also predict that news stories will describe shoppers "looking for bargains," which puts them in stark contrast with previous shoppers who insisted on paying more than the advertised price. In other words, we will have a Thanksgiving despite everything, and why not?

We have been at peace with Iowa for decades. Dragging a sled around the neighborhood shouting BRING OUT YOUR DEAD from the bird flu plague is not yet regarded as a good career opportunity. The Lizard People conspiracy has been exposed. The 35W bridge is up. The Twins haven't lost a game yet in the season to come. Gas is cheaper than milk, and a flaming bowl of Lucky Charms gives any breakfast table a festive note.

But what am I telling you this for? We were thankful after 9/11, and it has been seven years without a repeat. Being thankful in down times is something Americans are traditionally adept at doing, even if the bird is thin and the meat a bit dry. We get the opportunity to remind ourselves that there's more to be thankful for than the ability to pay 23 percent interest to get a TV display larger than the garage door of the house in which we grew up. Pass the stuffing.

Not the stuff made from the sports section, though. Too gamey. • 612-673-7858 More daily at