It's that time of year when we take stock of ourselves and all that we have.

We've shared a holiday repast with family and friends, stuffed ourselves with good food and become bleary-eyed from watching too much football. We're also getting ready for the rest of the holiday season, making plans for Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's Day.

I'm not a big holiday person. I'm one of those people who can't wait for them to be over. Sometimes there's just too much stress and too many expectations. Nonetheless, however, I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling at this time of year when I think about all for which I am thankful.

I have a wonderful, extended family. My 85-year-old mother is well and active despite some health and physical handicaps. I have four adorable great-nephews who are so smart that they give me hope for the future of our country. I like to daydream about what they will be like when they are adults and what they will do in their future endeavors. I believe one or more of them will be movers and shakers.

I have an array of warm, caring and entertaining friends. The kind of people I can call whenever I need them, knowing they will be there to provide comfort, support or a good laugh. I try to do the same for them.

I live in a terrific community. Not too many other towns of our size can boast miles of beautiful shoreline, a rich history, two top-notch universities, a multitude of cultural venues, an abundance of eateries, two fine public safety departments and host of charitable, humanitarian organizations that do so much good.

While I have all of the above, there is so much more I wish for -- some of it big and some of it small. I am thankful we have a changing of the guard at Independence Hall. After 12 years of one man's way of doing things for our town, we now have a new face and new ideas in the first selectman's office. Our new first selectman, Mike Tetreau, handily won election to the top job. I wish him well, but I also want him to make his own mark. I am a little disappointed that he already has said "there won't be any dramatic changes" in appointed town jobs. That's a shame because there are some people who need to go.

We are about to begin the municipal budget-setting process, when the town and school administrations will put together their wish lists for the next fiscal year. Here's where the new first selectman can make a difference right away and show that he means business. While I benefited from lower real estate taxes because of the town-wide revaluation, there's no guarantee that 2012-13 will be as pleasant. And the bigger question will be, has the school administration and Board of Education learned its lesson from last year's tumultuous budget battle, in which the requested amount for 2011-12 was reduced by nearly $3 million and an unsuccessful referendum sought to restore $800,000 of it?

On the state and federal levels, I hope -- no, I implore -- our lawmakers to get serious about solving the job and housing crises and to stop all the political posturing and bickering and do what's right.

On my wish list of a smaller scale are my hopes for the preservation of the Community Theatre, the elimination of blighted properties throughout town, the occupancy of several retail sites (do we really need a boarded-up storefront in Fairfield Center like that of the former Las Vetas coffee shop?) and the implementation of traffic-calming plans for the Black Rock Turnpike and downtown business districts.

But the most important wish on my list is that we do what we do best-- helping those around us with donations of food and clothing and our time. If we continue our humanitarian ways, we're going to be OK.

Patricia A. Hines is a Fairfield writer, and her "Hines Sight" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at She also can be followed at