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The Bright Side to The Decade From Hell

All this talk about the 00's being the Decade Best Forgotten makes me sad. There's no denying it's been rotten. Book-ended by 9-11 and the recession, with a god-awful war in between, it's been one wallop after another the past 10 years. But I'm trying to find some good in it.

Don't get me wrong. I love wallowing in my misery as much as any other overworked, underpaid, scared-to-death woman on the street. And yet … what troubles me is that the first 10 years of my kids' lives will be remembered this way. After all. I gave birth twice in this decade and those two little girls have helped me smile through the worst of it.

Until now, a lot of people remembered the 1970s as the worst decade ever. Granted, those years did bring us the energy crisis, parachute pants, Nixon, perms, mood rings and disco. Yet, as a kid of the '70s, the decade holds some of my fondest memories: Friday nights at the roller rink, my first kiss, listening to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 every Sunday, that pair of Levi's I tried to wear every day, rushing to the TV to watch Evil Knieval try to jump Snake River Canyon.

So here, in no particular order and in my kids' honor, is a list of the good things that came out of the Big Zero years. (Believe me, this was a helluva lot harder than the list of things that sucked.)

+ No Y2K meltdown. It seems silly to celebrate something that didn't happen, but do you remember how paranoid we all were at the beginning of the decade, when we stockpiled water, canned goods and toilet paper, waiting for the computer world to crash? There's a valuable lesson in the long-feared meltdown that never happened: Most of what we fear never comes to pass if we prepare for it.

+ Obama. We elected our first black president, and a woman fought a credible battle for the presidency. Who woulda thunk it?

+ Lactose-free milk. I feel better, do you?

+ Enough technological breakthroughs to make our heads spin. We went wireless; the iPhone revolutionized our way of life (no more toting a camera, cell phone, address book, music library and laptop); Wii rocked gaming; Facebook enabled us to connect with old friends; Google helped us find whatever we were looking for; Wikipedia answered all our questions and the Internet saved us a ton of time by allowing us to print out airline boarding passes at home and shop for the holidays without leaving the house.

+ Hope for an HIV-free world. Scientists in Thailand reported in September 2009 that they are close to developing a vaccine. Along with the continued development of antiretrovirals and combination treatments, medical efforts have significantly slowed AIDS-related death rates in the United States.

+ Harry Potter. JK Rowling and her boy hero turned a whole generation on to reading and allowed us all to disappear into a fantasy world of wizards and flying broomsticks. The good guy wins!

+ Hybrid cars. They became popular and attainable. RIP SUV.

+ Netflix. No more late-night runs to Blockbuster.

+ Chai Tea Lattes. Comfort drink of the decade.

+ Salad in a bag. Dinner will be ready soon, just hand me the scissors.

+ We stayed together.

The divorce rate in the United States in the 00's dropped to its lowest level since 1970. This may be a result of people living together and not marrying or staying together because of the economy, but it's definitely good news for children.

+ Global warmlings got our attention. We developed a new appreciation for the environment and got serious about protecting it, from the gathering in Copenhagen to those trendy recyclable grocery bags we always forget to bring into Publix.

+ Lost children found: Miracles do happen. This was the decade for finding missing children, starting with Elizabeth Smart, the Utah girl who disappeared for nine months after a religious zealot kidnapped her from her bedroom in 2001, and ending with Jaycee Lee Dugard, the 11-year-old California girl kidnapped and kept as a sex slave for 18 years in a backyard hideaway. In between, there was the 15-year-old boy kept in a Missouri pizza man's apartment for four years and the Austrian girl imprisoned and sexually abused by her own father for 24 years in a windowless cellar.

+ All You Need Is Love: It wasn't the real fab four, but The Beatles: Rock Band music video game helped a new generation discover the Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo are cool again.

What would you add to the list?