Throughout the year I generally try to get involved in community events whenever the organizers will have me, and I especially enjoy my long relationship with the county’s tree-lighting festival.
It was my idea to have one, after all.
But before we get around to lighting this year’s new tree, we first have a little thing called Thanksgiving to get past.
Thanksgiving just sort of gets the holiday bum’s rush between Halloween and Christmas, which the National Retail Federation lists as the No. 1 and No. 6 holidays for consumer spending. Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, in that order, fall in between.
More than ever this year, it seemed, decorations from Halloween and Christmas were fighting for space on store shelves, with orphaned little pilgrims or turkeys squished off to the side – if you could find them at all.
I was thrilled, then, to see that the Wife-Saver restaurant on Furys Ferry Road put out a big inflatable turkey (wearing a pilgrim hat, of course) to celebrate the stranded holiday. And to help sell fried turkeys.
So before we get too immersed in the overhyped Christmas consumerism called Black Friday, which this year actually starts on Thanksgiving day, let’s pause to be thankful.
To that end, I have a suggestion: Come see me.
Specifically, come see me, and many of my friends, on Monday as we serve at the Garlic Clove in Evans for the annual Italian Thanksgiving Feast.
This is a wonderful event, a fundraiser for Columbia County Cares food pantry and Golden Harvest Food Bank, both of which are struggling to keep up with heavier demand because of the still-sagging economy.
Those of us who aren’t struggling have a moral obligation – we don’t need government coercion to help others, thank you very much – to help those who are having a tough time. Those needs are more evident this time of year.
More people are turning to the food banks for help, even as fewer people are donating to such charities. That puts those agencies in a tight squeeze.
That’s how the Italian Thanksgiving Feast is a tremendous help. Chef Jeff Freehof provides wonderful Italian dinners from a set menu to each diner visiting Garlic Clove from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. “Celebrity” waiters deliver the meals to the tables and fill drink orders.
There is no charge for the meal. Instead diners show their gratitude by making a tax-deductible donation to the food banks, which multiply those donations into meals for the needy. How can you beat that?
Chef Jeff doesn’t get enough thanks for putting this event on each year, but for what it’s worth: Thanks, Jeff. You’re a true angel.
We’ll light that new Christmas tree Dec. 3. But first, let’s give thanks for all we have by sharing some of it with others. See you at the feast. (My shift is from 1-2 p.m., by the way.)
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/