Thanksgiving at the local level–did the Grinch come early?

In just a couple of hours I’ll have two active little girls “helping” me get ready for the big day. Fortunately I’ve been planning ahead, because I would much rather spend time with whatever they’d like to do today than any more cleaning and organizing.

I’ve already made a variety of changes to our potential seating arrangements. Yesterday the news was that we had a 50% chance of rain. As I went t bed around 11:30 PM I heard that any precipitation was going to be in the evening. Maybe I didn’t need to set the dining room table after all?

This morning? Some high pressure system has settled and we aren’t expected to have any rain at all. What gives?

We need rain and I hope you know that most of my previous protestations were quite tongue in cheek. I certainly hope that my comments about either being “cold” or concerned about rain are never misinterpreted as complaint. I’d have rocks in my head to protest to any of you. I’ve seen the news footage of freezing storms and all I can do is shake my head in pure amazement.

So it looks like we’ll be setting up our tent after all, and I’ll be sure to take some pictures of our family event. This will be our first year with Zena. I wonder how she’ll do when her peaceful backyard is invaded by 20 hungry visitors?

As I loaded my Costco cart yesterday one word kept floating into my mind’s eye.


Don’t you think that part of being grateful is to share with those in need?

Do you remember Pasadena’s “Fork in the Road?”

Fork in the Road

Last year at this time I wrote about one local effort to address the homeless and hungry at Thanksgiving. 

There are 58,423 homeless people in Los Angeles County; 12% are veterans, 26% chronically homeless and 43% are unsheltered.

And Pasadena, with its large parks, relatively safe environment and warm climate, has been reasonably hospitable for years. There are several cooperative foundations and churches that partner full-time addressing the needs of the homeless and hungry.

One very highly esteemed organization, Union Station Foundation, has a stellar reputation for feeding hungry men, women and children–every day of the week.

And at Thanksgiving and Christmas the entire community gets involved in a most spectacular effort–until this year.

Here’s the situation.

For three decades, maybe more, locals have been encouraged to bring pre-cooked and heated holiday food to Pasadena’s Central Park. One year I even took a turkey. Hundreds of people participate in this wonderful tradition, and then Union Station Homeless Services and local churches coordinate the effort to feed as many hungry people as they can possibly accommodate–usually around 4,000. It is a huge effort.

What’s changed?

Pasadena’s Health Department has shut this effort down, in a so-called effort to protect public health. Really? Do you buy that?

The city’s Environmental Health Division decided because the event was open to the public, any food served had to come through the portals of an approved, regulated facility.

My head could explode!

It won’t be the same, but a church in my own neighborhood has stepped up to accept food donations and is going into a modified “Plan B” to help through two of its homeless family centers.

I think I just decided one thing Sophia, Karina and I can do today. We can certainly find a way to take a few donations to the church, and join the effort to share some of our abundance. Maybe later I can add my protest to such a silly environmental health decision.

It could take me a little effort to get  through the grocery lines today so I’d better get moving. I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving, even if you don’t celebrate as a national holiday.

We can still practice the art of giving thanks.

I hope by next year Pasadena listens to the uproar of complaint, and gets its act together.