Thanks for Letting Me Help

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/11/homeless-thanksgiving-thumb.jpg I’ve never really been able to stomach Thanksgiving. Even as an elementary school kid, the hypocrisy and darkness surrounding the holiday was too much for me. I can’t just “shake off” the barbarism, genocide, and brutal cultural conquest that Thanksgiving sprang from, and would frankly rather ruin everyone else’s Thanksgiving with a diatribe about how evil it is, and how the whole damn tradition is rooted in fraudulent history and cultural amnesia. That said, I usually just wind up pissed off at myself for being so well-behaved. Yes, it’s true: I show up for the stupid meal (which I can’t usually eat much of, anyhow), smile graciously, and do everything in my power not to answer, “That I’m not an indigenous American,” when asked what I’m thankful for.

The one thing I can fully get behind (and that keeps me relatively sane) on Thanksgiving is the plethora of opportunities to do something nice for those less fortunate than myself. If you feel the same way, there are lots of options available here in LA. They range from donating canned goods to serving meals to the homeless. Here are a handful to get you started:

Hillsides in Pasadena is asking for your donations of canned and dried goods and grocery store gift cards. (323) 254-2274 x.251 or [email protected]

Gobble Gobble Give collects and distributes food and items to the homeless, and is looking for donations and volunteers to meet at The Echo, put together and deliver meals to people in vacant lots, empty fields, river bed bridges, freeway underpasses and alleys throughout the city.

There will be a community pot luck in Venice Beach, if that’s your speed. Just cook or buy something, and bring it on over to 1 Westminster Ave. Venice, CA. 90291 from 12 – 2 on Thanksgiving Day. Questions? Email [email protected]

This Interfaith Group in Santa Monica is looking for servers, greeters, food runners, decorators, hairstylists, medical providers, entertainers, prep and breakdown help for their event at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica, on
November 22 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. Each year they put together a Thanksgiving feast to feed 5,000 people, and for the past 25 years they have fed, distributed clothing, blankets, and hygiene kits, and provided haircuts and medical attention to thousands in the community. Sign up to volunteer by calling (310) 394-3153.

The Los Angeles Mission could probably still use your help for their huge Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow (Nov. 21), at which they expect to feed 3,500 homeless men, women, and children. Give ’em a call: (213) 629-1227

15 Replies to “Thanks for Letting Me Help”

  1. Helen, most excellent post. Barbarism eh? This rewriting history is a funny thing and thanks for the not so subtle reminder.

    I’ll toss in my favorite charity in need of help this time of year. It’s based here in Monrovia but serves the entire San Gabriel Valley.
    Foothill Unity Center
    415 W Chestnut
    Monrovia, CA 91016
    626/358-3486
    http://www.foothillunitycenter.org/index.php

  2. Or you could just get over your holier-than-thou self and appreciate the part of the holiday that brings families and friends together and reminds us of the power of gratitude.

    That said, those are some good suggestions…

  3. This has nothing to do with being “holier-than-thou.” As for choosing to view the holiday as something “that brings families and friends together and reminds us of the power of gratitude,” that’s just silly. Go ahead and have all the gratitude-inspired family get-togethers you want, but don’t ignore the true, collective, cultural definition of Thanksgiving. You can tweak a holiday in the privacy of your own home/mind all you want, but you can’t change its meaning. I can’t “get over it.” Sorry, I guess I’m just not that polite, after all.

  4. I’ll never understand how someone can even get up in the morning with such a tremendous amount of cultural guilt weighing down upon them.

    I suppose it’s the fresh new day, and all the possibilities it offers for you to try to foist it upon as many other people as possible, and deem it merely (political?) “impoliteness.”

    So there’s that, and the charity work. But I try to help other people because they actually need help. I’m trying to make the best of a time of year when, for better or worse, a lot (or at least, more than the normal amount) of people try a little harder to do the right thing to their fellow man.

    But hey, let’s forget all that and focus on all the atrocities of man, and his ongoing history of brutality and hatred instead. That’ll do everyone a lot more good.

    Or am I the only one that can distinguish between forgetting the past, and wallowing in it?

    I shall now throw myself upon the mercy, and flames, of the court.

  5. Well, I don’t know if guilting people to volunteer is exactly an effective approach, but I definitely don’t believe in feeling responsible for some of the atrocities are ancestors committed. All we can hope to do is do to leave our world a better place, and live by example.

    As for Thanksgiving itself, I think that using it to demonstrate the value of family can be as productive as volunteer service.

    Still, an awesome list and fun post. If you need a place to eat reluctantly on Thanksgiving, give me a call.

  6. Amen to “As for Thanksgiving itself, I think that using it to demonstrate the value of family can be as productive as volunteer service.”.

    On that note on more than a few years I’ve invited friends whose family lives elsewhere to join us at my house. I have 2 of my wifes friends from work coming (only 1 I met in passing at the airport). I always have ample to eat and share the day and can squeeze more in if needed. For me I get to spend time with old friends, new friends and just share the day. Added boner is I get to cook like a fiend and not worry about left overs.

  7. There’s a lot of “bad” history associated with many of our holidays. I’m with RB, can’t wait to see how you react to Christmas. Do you also hate Memorial Day, Veterans Day, 4th of July, etc? Lots of brutal history behind those holidays too.

  8. Oh come on–everyone knows the the original occupants of this continent lived in peace and harmony together. Everyone had sang songs around the campfires, ate fallen leaves, and died peacefully in bed, aged 90.

    Why pick on Helen just because she couldn’t think of a better lede?

  9. Are you really saying that “barbarism, genocide, and brutal cultural conquest” didn’t exist in North America until the Pilgrims arrived?

    Perhaps you should read some history of pre-Columbian indigenous Americans in North, Central, and South America. Every bit as brutal at the people of Europe, Asia, and every other place on the planet in that era.

    Trying to describe Thanksgiving as a symbol of evil is disingenuous at best and inflammatory at worst.

    The point of Thanksgiving from the beginning was to take a moment to be grateful for the good things in life. It remains that today. Perhaps you should try to see it in the spirit it was intended, rather than applying 21st century morality to 17th century actions.

  10. Do you think we invented brutality? Dudes, ever since there was a third human being one of them was trying to kill the other. More people, more brutality.

    That’s just human nature.

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