5 Reasons Philadelphia Should Be Thankful

As Thanksgiving approaches, considering our blessings.

And the No. 1 reason to be thankful...

And the No. 1 reason to be thankful…

It’s Thanksgiving Week! That means — it addition to some well-deserved time off for most of us — it’s time to actually contemplate what makes us thankful. Let me offer five suggestions for Philadelphia in 2014:

POT DECRIMINALIZATION: It’s going to be a while, I think, before we really notice the effects of Philly’s new decriminalization law. I don’t think it means you’ll start to see stoners everywhere you go in the city. But over time, a lot of people who would’ve been arrested won’t be arrested, and that’ll make it easier for them to get into or stay in school, or get into and stay in jobs.

Bottom line: Philadelphia feels just a bit more humane with the new pot policy. Hopefully it works out that way. A year from now, we should have a better idea of how the city has changed.

GAY MARRIAGE: Not everybody thinks this is great, obviously: Archbishop Charles Chaput is at the forefront of a movement that may result in priests refusing to perform the civil part of marriages. I’m not entirely certain how that’ll work in real life, but whatever.

We don’t need time to see the effects of legalized gay marriage in Pennsylvania: Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of our friends and neighbors already have a new level of “family security” that we straight folks have long taken for granted. They don’t have to worry about losing the house — or a child — when a spouse dies; they have assurances they’ll be able to visit a sick spouse in the hospital. The battle for gay rights is not done in Pennsylvania, but a large measure of dignity has finally been accorded our gay and lesbian friends, and that is a wonderful thing.

TEACHERS: Consider what Philadelphia teachers have been through the last two years.

They’ve worked in schools so budget-strapped that the teachers have had to furnish school supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets. And then they had to deal with their contract being ripped up by the SRC to change their health insurance — increasing their financial burdens just to keep the district afloat.

And yet, they show up every day and face down challenging circumstances to try to help our children learn. Not every teacher is a success. Not every lesson is learned. But the effort given by the vast majority of teachers in the Philadelphia district is heroic. This Thanksgiving, more than ever, I’m thankful for Philadelphia teachers.

POP-UP EVERYTHING: Not everybody agrees, but c’mon: The pop-up parks and pop-up everything else that took over empty and open spaces throughout the city this year made Philly-in-summer just a bit more vibrant.

THE EAGLES ARE 8-3: I’m not a huge football fan myself, but this city is in a much better mood when the Eagles are winning. It’s a good thing Philly’s mood isn’t dependent on the 76ers, or we’d have some serious troubles on our hands. In any case: Fly, Eagles, Fly.

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.