Thanks & Giving

Standard
(originally appeared in The Patterson Irrigator)

It’s Thanksgiving. The time of year when Americans devote much of our energy into thinking about the varieties, types and quantities of foods we’re going to cram inside our bodies on a Thursday afternoon. We watch cooking shows, flip through old family recipes, and buy more stuff at the grocery store than we could possibly need or consume— like greedy squirrels hoarding nuts stolen from other (more hard-working) squirrels.

So, yeah, it’s the quintessential American holiday.

When we’re not eating, or watching overpaid NFL players run around in Spandex, we should pause to be thankful. The holiday isn’t just about how many cranberries your nephew can stuff inside his nose before you have to take him to Urgent Care. It’s about more than that. We must also appreciate the community we live in, the country that supports our rights, and the duty we all hold in safeguarding these rights for everyone. For example, it would probably be pretty handy if your nephew had health insurance that would cover cranberry extractions.

While much focus is given to the “thanks” part of this holiday, I’d like to highlight the “giving” part, too. There can’t be one without the other. Thanks can’t be without Giving. Bert can’t be without Ernie. And Rudy Giuliani can’t be without an Indictment.

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as “Giving Tuesday.” It’s a day that charities and non-profits aim to generate support and donations for their causes. Giving Tuesday is especially important to local or smaller charities. Those are often overlooked for the big non-profits with the flashy marketing budgets that allow them to send me free return address labels with my name wrongly spelled as Elizabeth Guacamoo.

So, this year, I invite you to put down those cranberries and to celebrate Giving Tuesday. Support a local, Patterson-area organization that does good works in our community— like the Patterson Volunteer Firefighters Association or the Westside Food Pantry. There are many local groups to choose from. Or, if there is a specific cause you care about, find a grassroots organization that is making a difference for everyday people on the ground— not just the big non-profit conglomerates sending you free personalized Post-It notes with smiley faces.

If you’re unsure where to donate this Giving Tuesday, check out the website: www.charitynavigator.org

The acclaimed site has a wealth of information about countless non-profits and charities. It’s a good way to screen organizations and also to learn more about causes and missions you care about.

In the meantime, I wish you, and yours, a healthy and happy holiday. I hope it’s full of squirreled nuts, squishy cranberries, and lots of football commercials.

And, maybe, just maybe, if we all work together, Giving Tuesday doesn’t just have to come once a year.

thanksg

Nutcrackers, Holiday Decorating & All The Lies We Tell

Standard

Around three weeks ago, I was in a store and holiday music was already playing. Even though I snorted in disgust at the prematurity of it all, that didn’t stop me from admiring a collection of miniature Christmas trees roughly the size of Kevin Hart. You’ll be happy to note that I didn’t buy one, but I seriously considered it.

That set my mind into motion— into thinking about the holidays and when I’d put up my own decorations this year. I always tell myself that I’m going to wait until after Thanksgiving, but that never seems to happen. It’s more what I tell other people if they ask me when I put up my Christmas decorations. I always chirp, “Oh, I wait until after Thanksgiving.” But, in reality, I’m secretly hunkering down in my house around November 15th with empty nutcracker boxes strewn all over my dining room table and a rim of peppermint mocha residue around my lips.

It’s one of those secrets that we all keep and then lie to others about. You know, like how many times a day we floss (which is never), how many times a week we empty the lint compartment in the dryer (which is not enough) and if we wash our hands after we blow our nose (which should be all the time, but never is!).

When you are disabled, like me, you have to rely on others to help you put up your Christmas tree. You have to cajole and charm someone into climbing into the recesses of your garage to pull out the 7.5 foot plastic tree crammed in a cardboard box large enough for Kim Jong Un to stuff at least two dead bodies.

I’ve had the same artificial tree for quite a few years now. I don’t like having a real tree. It’s too much commitment. I have a hard enough time remembering to water my two houseplants, I definitely don’t have time to attend to a needy spruce tree. Plus, I don’t want something that will drop needles and crap all over my living room floor. If I wanted that, I’d just borrow a toddler.

Each year, there’s always a big moment of dread right before turning on the Christmas tree lights for the first time. That sinking feeling of wondering if this will be the year that it finally takes a giant poop. I’m sure I don’t need to describe this feeling any further. After all, if you’re a San Francisco 49ers fan, you feel this nearly every week.

Anyway, the last couple of seasons, my tree had begun to show its age. The lights began to dim, and large segments of the tree would randomly go dark, only to perk up again hours later. So, this week, I decided to take the plunge and get a new one. My new tree seems okay so far, but the branches were so smashed from being in the box on the long journey from China that the branches required considerable fluffing to stop them from resembling large marijuana joints. I suppose that’s one benefit to real trees, though— they are already fluffy.

However you may spend this holiday weekend, have a safe and happy one. If you need me, I’ll be here fluffing my tree, consuming large quantities of stuffing, and canoodling with my nutcrackers.

IMG_4507 (2)Happy Thanksgiving!