Right here on my desk, I have my Christmas wish list.

Being the unselfish person I am, it has gifts for everyone. If I could get just one, it would be an exemplary Christmas.

If I got all three, it would be monumental.

For Christmas this year, I would like all the traffic lights at the intersection of Northside Parkway, West Paces Ferry Road, the Interstate 75 ramp and Paces Ferry Road taken down.

It could be chaos, but it won’t be. We are all lovely, rational people — the people who read this column, anyway.

We’d let a few cars through, stop, go through ourselves, so on and so forth.

Traffic will flow through that forsaken knot of state routes, interstates and neighborhood roads as God intended it, without the hindrance of non-sequenced technology.

With no traffic lights, the city, the neighborhoods, the shopping centers and the schools would have to sit down and work out a solution for those intersections. Instead, they have to start from scratch. The Band-Aid approach is responsible for creating the mess.

The goals should be simple: No cars should sit in backed-up traffic through more than three cycles of a traffic light, and drivers should not be putting their lives on the line to get through an intersection.

By that seem token, for another gift, I’d appreciate it if we could be decent to one another.

Big idea, I know.

More intelligent people have written many books and editorials about the decline of civility. So put down the books and the newspapers and stop googling “how to tolerate family during the holidays” and practice being nice.

Being ugly — as my mother Mary Bird would say — takes energy. You have to stay mad at a person for at least 24 hours, 48 if you’re boiling.

It would be simpler — much simpler — to be pleasant, regardless of how we vote or whether we cut back our Crepe myrtles.

I’ll go a step further. If you could get me both, all of our lives would be better.

If everyone had to pay attention all the time when driving, perhaps they’d put their phones down and look out their window, see the other drivers, smile, wave. If nothing else, they would notice when someone is attempting to merge or needs to squeeze through a line of cars to get to the gas station.

The phones contribute much of the angst. I’ve often leaned on my horn, annoyed because the driver in front of me had their head down. My wife, Lori, has been called from on high to point out people driving while on their phones.

Because of those infernal devices, they don’t realize she is reprimanding them.

Finally, the fences around Standing Peachtree Park should come down, if not for Christmas, then sometime in 2022. I’m getting too old to wait.

Early pioneer settlers forged the earliest days of Atlanta along those banks. It is near a Muscogee village, which stood for thousands of years before those settlers arrived. It is also on the banks of the Chattahoochee, that long-neglected waterway without which our city wouldn’t exist.

It is my wish to have a grand, green park on the river bank. Standing Peachtree, most of which the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management on Ridgewood Road oversees, is where history, nature and recreation could merge.

Let’s make it so.

This is the time of year when you ask for something your heart’s been set on all year. In my case, I’ve wanted them for much longer.

While they are gifts for me, they would benefit everyone because that’s the kind of guy I am.

Merry Christmas all.

Thornton Kennedy is the president of PR South, a public relations firm and a former news editor of this paper. He can be reached at thornton@prsouth.net.


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