Don't tell me it is almost 2009. Good grief! I haven't finished getting ready for Y2K yet, and here we are already on the brink of a new decade. As has been my custom for many years, I plan to spend New Year's Eve with friends and neighbors at the exquisite little Georgia Sea Grill on St. Simons Island, stuffing my face full of corn-fried shrimp. It is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
As we wind up 2008, there are no words to express my thanks to the hundreds of readers across the state who wrote and continue to write concerning the loss of our grandson, Zack. Many of you tell me you felt as though you knew him through my annual letters to my grandsons, which remain far and away the most popular column of the year. A number of you have suggested that I put the letters in booklet form, and I am thinking about it. In the meantime, I am composing a letter to my grandsons for early 2009. It won't be easy.
Your response to this and other topics over the past year reminds me that having this weekly opportunity to correspond with you is a high privilege, permitted only because the editors feel I have something to say and because you are willing to take the time to read it, whether you agree with my views or not. These are not easy times for newspapers, and editorial space is valuable. And I take nothing for granted. As my mentor, the late Jasper Dorsey, used to say to those who worked for him at Southern Bell, "You run for re-election every day." Don't think I don't feel the pressure to be re-elected weekly by the editors. I do.
Maybe this would be a good time to once again explain my political philosophy and disabuse those of you who think I am a Rush Limbaugh-leaning Republican. Sorry to disappoint you, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am middle-of-the-road, all the way. I don't like extremists on the left or the right. I gravitate toward people like Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, a Democrat.
My political hero is former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, a Democrat, who saved our state from much of the racial turmoil experienced by our neighbors and who doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves for his good works. If you weren't around in those years, I would suggest you read up on the man. I also like Democrats Harry Truman and Zell Miller because they said what was on their mind and didn't give a flying fig whether you liked it or not. They are my kind of people.
So don't lump me in with Rush Limbaugh. He is fat, thinks he is hot stuff and smokes cigars. I am lean, blush at the slightest compliment and don't smoke, dip or chew. I will admit to occasionally popping a few M&M's, but, hey, nobody is perfect. Not even modest and much-beloved columnists.
Why am I so misunderstood by some? It might be my offbeat sense of humor - a quality totally lacking among flaggers (remember them?), racists (black and white), some Baptists (particularly when I extol the virtues of women preachers), and not a few Libertarians (who get cranky because they can't smoke marijuana legally).
A sense of humor also seems to be lacking among loud-talking Yankees who think we Georgia natives marry our first cousins and eat possums, and President Peanut's apologists, who are not only convinced he hung the moon, but that he created it in seven days, along with the stars, rivers, and Adam and Eve - a point of view he doesn't discourage.
Before I head off for my corn-fried shrimp, I must say that I came very close to giving up the column this year after losing my grandson. The fact that I didn't is due to my son, Ken, who gave me a verbal kick in the pants and shook me out of my self-pity. I am glad he did. Corresponding with you folks is the best job on earth. Happy New Year.
E-mail columnist Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.