Uncommon Ground

Share the Table

Please do your part to make the holidays full for everyone

The snow arrived. The mountaintops enjoy a couple feet. Who knows how long the smaller accumulations of flakes remain in the valley floor. Temperatures are unstable. Out the kitchen window, I again saw the same deer hanging out in the front yard like they’d taken up residency. In the prickly shrub nearby hung a dozen wild turkeys devouring the frozen rose hips.

It feels like most locals are getting ready for the season. On the farm, it’s been a steady transition. The long and warm fall offered lots of opportunity to get at those projects that I had managed to neglect due to other more pressing priorities.

The firewood is in and the woodstove is warm. We’re awaiting the arrival of the 2019 seed catalogs. If the recent barrage of farming emails flooding the inbox is an indicator, it’s going to be great next year, one full of promise and hard work.

Moreover, it’s time we Americans get along. Locally we’ve been doing this working-together stuff for what seems like forever. Only nationally or occasionally statewide do we argue ad nauseam. Let it go, even for a while. Let’s just get some stuff done.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Most everyone will gather with family and friends, to share a meal, tell some outrageously unbelievable tales, and enjoy the old-fashioned company of others.

Sure those eccentric uncles, or another family member who can’t keep their opinions civil, might be there. Hug them. Give them something to drink. Smile. There is so much goodness and little lifetime on our small planet. A life can seem like a flash in a pan.

The older I get, the less I care about the political affiliation of those unconventional uncles. More so, I care about how kind they are to their family and community. I care if they can work with others. I care that they, too, regardless of their kookiness, have enough food on their plate, that their lodging is warm, and they have access to health care.

I recall talking to my conservative father-in-law about Thanksgiving traditions of the past. After some prying, he told stories of how the uncle-likes would show up to with a pail of beer from the local brewery. That’s right – a pail and everyone would happily dip their mugs into the bucket to a cheer.

Some moms in the family would fill the inside of a fresh fish with local sauerkraut to be roasted. I’ve enjoyed this meal. My elderly neighbor used to make it from the wild Alaskan salmon that family would bring down annually.

Sure there will be honeyed yams, green beans, potatoes, another meat like turkey, cranberries, bread stuffing, and gravy. Lots of gravy. And pie. Oh the pie. Pumpkin, sweet squash, or apple, oh my. Maybe even some whipped cream.

OK, we’re lucky. You probably are too. But some are not. Reserve some time to donate to trustworthy charitable organizations like the North Valley Food Bank in Whitefish, the Flathead Food Bank in Kalispell, or the Columbia Falls Food Bank.

I admire and commend the volunteers who do the amazing work to fill the hunger gap for many local families. Please do your part to make the holidays full for everyone. Sure you could donate that near-expired can of peas or creamed corn in the back of the cupboard. But who really wants to eat that. Not us apparently.

Donate a pocketful of cash, whatever you can afford, and let the food bank professionals purchase some real and fresh food, which they can donate to clients throughout our valley. They’ll use the money wisely and get good value by purchasing in bulk.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. May your holidays be full of family, laughter, and warmth.