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Christmas brings silver lining, even to cynics

At this cheery, festive time of year, it's difficult to think negative thoughts. I have to work pretty hard at it.

Just kidding. The truth is, during the joyous Christmas season even cynics like me find ourselves seeing more silver linings than dark clouds. Although, I have to admit, if we'd had a few more dark clouds lately, maybe there would still be waterfront property at Lake Lanier.

But see, that's exactly what I'm talking about: as bad as the drought has become and as worrisome as forecasts continue to be, my upbeat holiday mood has me focused instead on the positive effects of the water shortage.

For instance, I no longer have to wash my car. Of course, I hardly ever washed my car before, but now I don't even feel guilty about it. According to Governor Perdue, a dirty car is a badge of honor. I've just been wearing my badge a lot longer than most.

It's been months since I lost my television satellite signal due to hard rains. I haven't had to clean my gutters. I've put off pressure-washing my driveway indefinitely. And I only shower twice a week - another badge of honor the governor is bound to recognize any day now.

Such holiday-inspired positive thinking has helped me deal with other issues, too. For example, as disastrous as the Falcons season has been, I now see a number of good things coming out of it.

For one thing, ticket prices are bound to go down. Parking near the Georgia Dome on game days shouldn't be a problem in the foreseeable future. And if we're really lucky, we could be treated to a sideline confrontation next season between "hands-on" owner Arthur Blank and a high-profile, control-freak coach.

And how about global warming? Politicians and pundits are full of dire predictions regarding what could happen if the earth's average temperature continues to rise, but I see some definite advantages.

I really enjoyed, for example, not having to bundle up for high school and college football games this fall (although I am running low on sunscreen). Also, my heating bill has been a lot lower. And if I ever get to take that dream Arctic vacation, apparently I'll have fewer polar bears to contend with.

Even the worst news for many Gwinnettians - the decline in the housing market - is susceptible to my positive spin. Think about it: the main problem with being upwardly mobile is the need to be mobile, meaning moving to a larger and more expensive home every four or five years just to keep up with the Joneses.

Now the Joneses are in Chapter 11 and their house has been foreclosed. So I guess we can all stay where we are a little longer, watching the Falcons melt down on our perfect satellite pictures, totally uninterrupted by rain.

Lawrenceville resident Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.