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Politics at the Table

Politics at the Table 

On the Cover: The great thing about California’s vote by mail policy is that it enables every registered voter to vote with ease; the bad part is that it can make the wait for results into a marathon, and with so many of this election’s races still too close to call, that means politics may be almost impossible to avoid this Thanksgiving. It’s a small price to pay for the right to participate in direct democracy, but an extra helping of patience and goodwill may be the most important dish at family gatherings. Pass the cranberry jelly, please, and hold the politics! Happy Thanksgiving! Cover design by Urs Baur

Lately it feels as if we are madly careening from one drama to another—gas prices, inflation numbers, interest rates, stock market fluctuations, the uncertainties of the election, and in the middle of it all, we find ourselves already plunging into the winter holiday season, ready or not. These are challenging times, but we have a lot to be thankful for.

We marked the fourth anniversary of the Woolsey Fire this month with rain—real rain, more than two inches in some parts of Topanga—instead of Santa Ana winds. The winds are coming, but the reprieve has been welcome.

Ballots from November 8 were still being tallied when TNT went to press. Many of the races in this election have turned out to be stress-inducing cliffhangers that remain too close to call, as ballots continue to trickle in and be counted. However, it looks like Lindsey Horvath has garnered enough votes to become the next Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor, edging out Bob Hertzberg for the win. That race, more than any other this season, has the power to directly impact the lives of local residents. 

Final results in all California races won’t be complete until the beginning of December. Waiting to find out the results of close races— and in this election, the balance of power in Washington—is stressful, but the process ensures everyone who is eligible has the opportunity to vote by mail, a convenience absent from many states. The slow process of tallying ballots this election, and the national significance of the outcome, unfortunately means politics will be harder than usual to avoid this holiday season. 

Thanksgiving is a rare holiday that hasn’t been commercialized or monetized to a major degree, but it does sometimes come with baggage. For many of us, Thanksgiving represents a welcome opportunity to come together with family and friends, but for others it can be a burden. COVID-19 didn’t do us many favors but it did remind us that holidays are not an ironclad obligation. 

Holidays like Thanksgiving  should bring joy, not stress or grief or anxiety, and when they don’t perhaps it’s time to rethink them, and dispense with the elements that don’t contribute to our well being. At its heart, this holiday is about giving thanks, and there are lots of ways of doing so that don’t include things that make us unhappy. This is a time to be kind to ourselves as well as to the people in our lives. 

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a prayer of Thanksgiving that comes to mind this time of year: “Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind,” he wrote. “Spare us to our friends, soften us to our enemies. Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors; if it may not, give us strength to endure that which is to come that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune…”

In a time of seemingly perpetual changes of fortune, his words are a welcome benediction. We tend to think of Stevenson as rooted in his native Scotland, but he was a born traveler, one who lived for a time on the Central Coast of California and knew a lot about life here in another period of rapid change and uncertainty.

Here at TNT we do enjoy gathering together with friends and family for Thanksgiving, and we are celebrating the holiday again this year with some of our favorite family recipes. We are also taking a look at the surprising history of cranberry sauce and that peculiarly American holiday staple, canned cranberry jelly, and we are issuing a challenge related to our notorious 2021 Jell-O history: make a Perfection Salad and send us proof—go on, we dare you! Extra points for creative presentation (who says holidays have to be serious?). Please join us at the table!

We also have a heartfelt offering from TNT historian Jimmy P. Morgan, writing for our Storyland section about his friendship with an extraordinary young man who has overcome extreme challenges with optimism and a joyful spirit. He exemplifies Stevenson’s “courage and gaiety and the quiet mind.”

We wish all of our readers all of those things, and a happy, peaceful, joyful Thanksgiving holiday.

Stay safe, be well!

One of the things we are grateful for all year long is the natural beauty and amazing wildlife  that surrounds us in the Santa Monica Mountains, and there are always surprises, like this gorgeous pink and scarlet Lewis’s woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis. This large, colorful woodpecker is related to the acorn woodpecker, and also eats and stores acorns—carefully shelling them, first. It can also catch insects midair, like a flycatcher, and it has a taste for fruit. M. lewis is an infrequent winter visitor in our mountains, seeing one here is a rare blessing. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

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