Monday, August 10, 1998

The Thankfulness Fribble
by Selena Maranjian

[Thankfulness shouldn't be limited to one day in late November every year. In the spirit of year-round gratitude, we hereby re-publish a Fool Portfolio Report from November of 1997.]

It's that time of year, Fools! Get out those lucky stars, 'cause it's time to start thanking them again. Since I penned last year's Foolish Alphabet of Thanks, I appear to have become the designated Thanking Fool. (Okay, okay... the truth is that I had to lock TMF Jeff in a closet until he promised he'd let me write this year's report.)

Let the gratitude-fest begin.

I myself am thankful for Broderbund, which was the first stock I discovered and bought on my own. For the years that I held it, it was very good to me. So here's to all our first stocks -- without them, there would never have been second or third stocks, or portfolios for that matter.

I'm grateful for my reliable car. Dependable vehicles free us anxiety-inclined folks from worrying about breakdowns, so that we can worry about other things. Like whether our chicken is cooked enough. Whether our tires are inflated properly. Whether any radon is leaking into Fool HQ. You get the idea.

Most of us are probably thankful for growth stocks. Imagine a stock market universe of companies that simply maintain modest momentum. Companies content just selling soap or chairs, seeing no reason to buy back stock, no reason to expand into new regions with new products, no reason to eat their competitors' lunch. How dreary.

I'm thankful for the wackiness that abounds here at Fool HQ and makes each day interesting. One day we see Dale Wettlaufer, a.k.a. TMF Ralegh, seeing if he can fit his head in a small plastic bag (he can). Another day, Dale is expounding on what he plans to name his children. First son: Publius. First daughter: Swiss Chalet. Come to think about it, most of the wackiness in the office seems to emanate from Dale's corner.

On a more serious note, we should really stop and think about how fortunate we are, no matter who we are and what our circumstances. Maybe we're not all rich and driving expensive cars, but we're not sweeping streets in Bangladesh, either. Or trying to get a little sleep in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass in Texas. Some of us may indeed be spending these days and nights visiting a loved one at the hospital, but those of us who aren't should be darned grateful that we aren't. If you're not relying on a shelter or soup kitchen to provide your meals, also be thankful.

I'm grateful for possibilities. If Foolishness stands for little else, it stands for possibilities. The possibility of retiring with a lot more than you ever expected. Of discovering that investing is not only do-able, but even kind of fun. Of finding a few new friends out on the lively and occasionally cantankerous Fool message boards. Of stumbling upon a company that will end up tripling your money in a few years. Of helping a friend or relative take a few steps toward financial self-confidence here in our motley halls. Of empowerment through information. Of independence through taking responsibility. Of painless enlightenment through giggling. Sure, they're high ideals. But aren't ideals supposed to be high? And if anyone at all bothers to try leaping over a ridiculously high hurdle, who better than a Fool?

It strikes me as interesting that the word "Thanksgiving" is made up of "thanks" and "giving." I'm prattling on quite a bit about thanking, so let me turn for a moment to giving.

We here at Fool HQ have decided that it's time we do more about giving. To that end, we set up The Motley Fool Charity Fund at the end of 1997. After extensive research, we identified a most worthy non-profit organization, Share Our Strength, and we called upon Fools far and near to dig into pockets and contribute a shekel or two. Lo and behold, we raised more than $100,000 for Share Our Strength's programs. (Read a recent update here: The Motley Fool Charity Fund: Mid-Year 1998 Update)

Finally, I'm also thankful for the alphabet, for many reasons. It's something that challenges us at a very early age. Something that once mastered, gives us one of our first tastes of academic accomplishment. (Heck -- it's one of the first things we can lord over our less erudite younger siblings.) The alphabet permits us to write initials, words, phrases, slogans, graffiti, posts on message boards, and doctoral dissertations. And to look things up in dictionaries. Finally, alphabets make things like Foolish Alphabets of Thanks a whole lot easier. I shudder when I think of how long it would have taken me to not only write this Fool Port report, but also to devise an alphabet for it.

Without further ado, I've whipped up another list of things for which most Fools should be very appreciative. Enjoy.

Version 2.0 of the
Foolish Alphabet of Thanks

Advertising, for giving us free television and free
Brazil nuts, for the incredible challenge they present
and the satisfaction they offer upon victory.
Coffee tables, for saving us from having to keep piles
of books on our laps.
Dastardly, for just being a fun word to say.
Earnings per share, for how they translate into
wealth for Fools like us.
Fixers of potholes, for surely there must be some of
them out there.
Gorey, Edward, for his charming morbidity and
inspirational Gashlycrumb Tinies.
Hippopotami, for their uncanny resemblance to the
Dow Dividend Approach.
Indexes, for helping us find what we're looking for
quickly and painlessly.
Jesters, clowns, merry-andrews, and all things
motley, for their cheer.
Kindness, for often taking us by surprise and
offering relief, comfort and hope.
Lemmings, for their unswerving faith in eachother.
(Not their decision-making skills, though.)
Mysteries great and small, in books and in life, for
keeping us wondering, guessing and thinking.
Names, for how else would we address each other?
Octobers, for the lessons that market crashes
teach us. (And for fall colors, too.)
Printed pages, for their ability to inspire, instruct,
inform, entertain and distract.
Quantities and qualities, the examination of which
can help us discover great companies in which to
Rear view mirrors, for letting us look at and think
about where we've been.
Snapshots, for how they frame what we love,
sometimes without our even knowing it.
Turkeys, without which we might be eating sushi and
stuffing or mutton and mashed potatoes on holidays.
Upbringings, for without them we'd still be staring at
strangers, whining, and stuffing all kinds of things
in our mouths and pockets.
Volunteers, for doing what they can.
Windshields, for keeping bugs off our teeth and
gravel off our noggins.
X, for marking the spot.
Yams, for the tasty and starchy tuberous roots that
they are.
Zirconium, for its uses in surgical appliances, steel,
jewelry and antiperspirants.

Does it seem like I've left out anything important? If so, please let me know. I'll collect responses and report back to you about them at a future date.

Until then, our many thanks to you for visiting Fooldom all the times that you do.

Lacking wisdom,

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