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Giving thanks for Atlanta's encouraging signs 

Our cover story this week is devoted to things we love about Atlanta. Touchy-feely? Perhaps. But during a year in which we've all been on a no-pleasure cruise through several circles of hell, it feels nice to focus on the good around us. In that spirit, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving — don't worry; we'll spare you the turkey, football, and reckless colonialism clichés — we wanted to honor the great or, at the very least, the encouraging, things that happened in Atlanta this year. So we say, let us give thanks ...

To the passage of Sunday sales Next to the Georgia's gay-marriage ban, prohibition on the Sabbath was one of the most embarrassing laws on the state's books. Seriously, we could all legally bed high-schoolers if we wanted — as long as they're sweet 16 — but couldn't grab a case of beer at the grocery on Sunday. (This isn't to mention the illogical provision that allowed bars to serve drinks, which, in a city like Atlanta, encourages people to drink and drive.) But that's behind us now. We can all celebrate New Year's Day by buying a six-pack at the corner store.

Because we got creative during Snowpocalypse 2011 When Atlantans weren't whining about not being able to get to work — just kidding; no one whined about that — we were making the most of a rare, three-day snow vacation. In Piedmont Park, people made sleds from whatever they could find and took to the hills. A resourceful sci-fi enthusiast reenacted a battle on the planet Hoth with his ample collection of Star Wars action figures. Ice skaters laced up and raced down Peachtree Street. Probably the only ones who didn't get creative during Snowpocalypse: the city's department of public works.

To the zoo animals who gave birth early and often The many creatures born at Snowpocalypse this year became furry reminders from The Creator™ that, hey, things aren't that bad. We got really good ones, too, like a tired-eyed baby gorilla and a baby girl giraffe that looks remarkably like a sock puppet. Next year is shaping up to be thanks-worthy, too: Just last week, Georgia Aquarium announced a baby beluga whale is gestating toward a spring arrival.

For the purchase of City Hall East Goodbye, City Hall East; hello, Ponce City Market. It's still early for the planned transformation of the massive, vacant structure looming over one of Atlanta's most-traveled thoroughfares into a thriving mixed-use development. But the promise of what Ponce City Market could become — Manhattan's Chelsea Market, anyone? — is enough to make us say thanks. If only we didn't have to wait until 2014.

To Occupy Atlanta Say what you will about their lack of focus, their methods or their hygiene, we're glad that Atlanta has figured prominently in the, dare we say, exciting Occupy movement. It's unclear what, if anything, sleeping in public parks, shouting scripted diatribes in local bank branches and repeatedly being arrested will accomplish. But we're the 99 percent, too. And we weren't going to be the ones to do it.

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