In the holiday spirit

Let's try to give more this season than we take

Believe it or not, the holiday season is upon us. Pretty much as soon as the last flicker of Jack-o-Lantern firelight snuffed out, store shelves were lined with Thanksgiving and Christmas crap. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays. But the consumerism has reached unreal proportions. Do you really need that Big Bang Theory-themed wreath? I'm sorry, I'm sure five years from now you'll pull it out of its neatly packed box and place it on your front door (instead of finding it smashed and decrepit with all the other yesteryear junk in the back of the attic). But I digress …

Before Christmas really takes hold, we do, of course, have Thanksgiving. For me, that holiday was always about getting together with family to drink too much wine and eat a belt-loosening amount of good food. It's a time to be thankful, to sit back and enjoy the people at the table around me and truly appreciate their company. For, nobody can predict what tomorrow might bring. Thanksgiving, too, is a time to give back, to be thankful for what we have and give a little to those who have less.

There are many locals who feel the same way. Take Farshad Azad, owner and grandmaster of Azad's Martial Arts Center, who for 24 years has organized the Thanksgiving Basket Brigade, bringing hearty holiday meals to families in need (contact 892-AZAD or to get involved). And then there's Giving Tuesday, a new-ish “holiday” that falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (to take the Black Friday taste out of our mouths) during which individuals and businesses often volunteer or donate a portion of proceeds to charity. Visit for info.

A little more in line with the local mission of this column is Pyramid Farms' annual fundraiser for Heifer International. The farm, based in Chico, specializes in certified organic veggies that they sell at local farmers' markets and through their CSA. On Saturday, Nov. 21, the farm will donate 100 percent—you read that right—of its profits from the Chico Certified Farmers' Market to Heifer International.

For those who are unfamiliar with the nonprofit, Heifer combats world hunger and poverty by supplying families in poor, rural areas with animals like cows and chickens that will not only supply them with milk and eggs to feed themselves, but also to sell at market. It starts a cycle of self-reliance that has helped families and communities around the world.

Thank you, Pyramid Farms and owner Matthew Martin, for your dedication to not only bringing amazing fresh produce to our dinner tables but also to caring for our planet. I urge everyone who reads this column to stop by his booth on the 21st and do your small part, too.