Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving: a time for reflection, smiles and giving thanks for what really matters


 * ... GIVING THANKS: This is the time of year when Bakersfield is at its best: our short fall and the changing of the leaves brightens our parks, the days are crisp and we've yet to enter Bako's "nuclear winter" when the days are marked by gray skies, fog and bitter cold. And  it's also the time when  families gather for Thanksgiving and all the college kids come home and bring smiles to our lives. I spent some time this week with young Sam Brandon, son of dear friends and now a junior at University of Colorado at Boulder. (He is the son of Esther and Rogers Brandon) Sam was full of confidence and college swagger and was eager to reunite with his pals who are spread out across the country. I am always amazed at how quickly these kids grow up after a just few years away. Wednesday night, on the eve of  Thanksgiving, you can expect the annual pilgrimage of these kids (particularly those who graduated from Garces Memorial and Bakersfield High School) to Woolgrower's and on Friday and Saturday, you'll see them all reconnecting at Luigi's restaurant.

* ... THANKSGIVING PIE RUN: One of the great Bakersfield traditions is the annual Thanksgiving morning "Pie Run." At the crack of dawn every Thanksgiving hundreds of local runners, cyclists and walkers (with their dogs of course) show up at Hart Park for a chilly morning jog in the hills overlooking the park. Everyone brings a dessert (usually a pie but also doughnuts, coffee cakes etc) which are all eaten after the folks descend from the hills. Retired insurance manager John Rous, himself a veteran of many bike rides and a few marathons, is credited with being one of the founders of the event. John's son is David Rous, a principal in Glinn and Giordano Physical Therapy and himself an accomplished competitive cyclist. The Pie Run is a terrific way to start the holiday, see old friends, kids home from college and yes - all those beloved pets. Starts at 6 a.m. at Hart Park. Look for the bonfire.

 * ... I GIVE THANKS: There is a lot of be thankful for this time of year, even with a deepening recession, record high unemployment and stress at many levels. My top five list goes like this:
  1) I am thankful to have a job, and to work for an employer who provides top flight health insurance that has kept my family healthy.
  2) I am thankful for the unconditional love and support of close friends in a time of great tension.
  3)  I am thankful for my two daughters who - despite being knuckleheads from time to time - make me proud every day.
  4) I am thankful to live in a community with so many good people who inspire me every day, people like Dan Hay at Jim Burke Ford who forever has a smile and dismisses this recession as "merely a test."
 5) And I am thankful to live in a country and a community that show such great resilience and generosity in the face of historic challenges.

* ... SEASONAL GIVING: I came across a wonderful website that allows you to search and pick and choose your favorite charity from literally tens of thousands of non-profits. It is called "Just Give" and can be found at www.justgive.org. Go to the website, put in a local zip code and up pops hundreds of Bakersfield non-profits with an explanation of what they do and who they serve. The website allows for credit card transactions, making giving in the holidays all that much easier.

 * ... MEA CULPA: I committed an error the other day in talking about Dustin Kilpatrick, one of the local kids who went to USC and came home to Bakersfield to work. Dustin's parents, Dave and Danielle Kilpatrick, both graduated from USC as did his brother Daniel. I implied the parents graduated from Garces, which is in error.

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