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The Reasons for Thanksgiving

Good food; good friends
     When is the right time to begin celebrating the winter holidays? 
     November 1 is rushing it for me. But that’s when I saw crane trucks lifting giant faux evergreen wreaths onto the facades of shopping centers in both Anne Arundel and Calvert counties. With lots to make jolly with lights and wreathes, the town of Chesapeake Beach also starts early.
     I’m of the belief that each holiday deserves its own season before we rush into the next. So I didn’t mind that a giant snake climbed into a Fairhaven neighbor’s tree in mid-October, and I waited eagerly for the hundreds of ghosts to alight along another neighbor’s roadside and driveway.
      But now I’ve boxed my Day of the Dead altar for another year and turned to Thanksgiving, borrowing colors from the arboreal palette to warm up the mood of my house and lighting nightly fires to warm up its temperature.
     But what’s really on my mind — isn’t it on yours, too? — is the Thanksgiving dinner.
     For in our home, as in Gardening for Health columnist Maria Price’s, “the food has always been the most important element of our celebrations.” Carrying a feast as important as that from conception to the table — while maintaining your sanity and thankful heart — takes planning. Thus, one last time, we bring you this week our annual issue devoted to feasts of Thanksgiving. 
      It’s a wonderful issue, if I say so myself.
     Maria brings us one of those stories, taking us into her family celebration with garden-fresh, herb-laden recipes and with stories of holiday memories and mishaps that are now her family’s legends.
     Animals — and not only turkeys — play leading roles in several of those mishaps, reminding me that we humans share our space willingly or not with many other creatures. Should we be surprised that they, too, are in a feasting frenzy as the days grow shorter and colder? 
      Of course we shouldn’t be, but we still are. And that’s the subject of the story my Thanksgiving partner, Bill Lambrecht, has written for this issue in Way Downstream. I call it Trick or Treat! Says Groundhog aka Whistle Pig.
       As Bay Weekly’s weeks grow short, Lambrecht has returned to his habits in the days of yore, when he combined his Washington reporting life with regular writing for Bay Weekly. So he’s given us a second story this week, reporting on how culinary competition devotees have gilded Maryland oysters for the National Oyster Cookoff that’s a regular part of the Rotary Club of Lexington Park’s recent 53rd ­annual U.S. Oyster Festival in St. Mary’s County. 
      Their recipes are delicious, I promise you, for I’m one of the lucky judges, along with John Shields, NPR host, cookbook author and owner of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art; Gwyn Novak chef and entrepreneur of the thriving cooking school on Solomons Island, No Thyme for Cooking; plus, new this year, bloggers Amy Langrehr of Baltimore and Jason ‘Foodgeek’, editor-in-chief of DCFüd. I hope you use these recipes to bring comfort to your feasts, families and friends. 
       Also featuring recipes from Chesapeake Country is Sporting Life columnist Dennis Doyle. His extensive local menu will have you begging for an invitation to his Thanksgiving feast.
      Alas, it’s too late to join the Gullah Low Country feast you’ll read about in Julie Wakeman-Linn’s first story for Bay Weekly. It’s all over, at least for this year, having raised $7,600 for the charity Links, Inc. But I promise you that you’ll be inspired in your own Thanksgiving feasting by the story of how the family and cultural traditions of Emily Bryant, now of Columbia Beach in Shady Side, live in food and memory.
       You’ll also read about Harry the hog’s contribution to charity in this week’s feast of stories.
A Little Help from Our Friends
      The season of thanks and giving is well underway for me as I am flooded with evidence of how much Bay Weekly has meant to so many people. I see that daily in your letters, emails and phone calls. You’ve been reading some of what Bay Weekly believers have said, as I’ve shared it these past weeks in Your Say. 
      Now, thanks to friends who wanted to make their support tangible, I see it in the rising donations to the Soft Landing for Bay Weekly GoFundMe campaign organized by friend and former delegate Sue Kullen.
      It’s hard to talk about money, but it’s the elephant in the room and the nightmare in our dreams. It’s the reason we’re retiring Bay Weekly after a great run that will be 27 full years when we close our last volume book at the end of December.
     The winds of the times are blowing too hard against our industry to continue this journey. As you’ve seen in our pages issue after issue, many loyal advertisers — most of them fellow small-business owners — still depend on us to find customers in our readers. But too many others, especially businesses that depend on younger buyers, tell us the numbers just don’t work for them.
     That’s why more than 1,800 local newspapers — many of them big newspapers — have shut down since 2004.
     Innovators all over the country and the world are experimenting with new models of journalism. Often, they’re places like The Washington Post, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, has made enough money in other enterprises to pay to play with the future.
     That’s now a game we can’t afford to play. The revenues our advertisers invest in us — our only source of income until now — we’re investing in these final weeks that gives our staff a runway from which to launch new endeavors.
      Could we end our business unencumbered as well as in good faith?
      Perhaps only with a little help from our friends. 
      Since Sue stepped in to bring us that help, many have joined her. 
       As I write, friends have donated $7,745 through GoFundMe alone, plus substantial other donations.
      Grateful as we are for each dollar (including $5 from my college freshman grandson Jack Knoll), we’re more deeply moved by their words. 
      “We donate because we prize great journalism, local stories that inform and move us and because Bay Weekly and its publisher and staff are part of a grand tradition! Thanks for the fine work through the years,” wrote friends and readers Don Foley and Louise Hilsen.
      “I want to help in any way I can. This is a loss of a treasure, the end of an era, and the saddest thing for the Bay,” wrote Aloysia Hamalain, who once upon a time wrote wonderful horse stories for us.
      “Thanks for those long years of hard work. I loved Bay Weekly, I’ll miss you, and I’ll miss the sense of community it fostered,” wrote Cecelia Petro of Galesville. 
      “I was so sad to hear that the Bay Weekly is shutting down. I was extremely lucky to have had the privilege of writing a column for about a year and will miss the paper when it’s gone,” wrote Christina ­Gardner whose column solved Bay mysteries.
      “Bay Weekly has been a wonderful part of our lives for many years and will be greatly missed by all. Thank you for being such an important part of our lives,” wrote Lois Burton, outdoors columnist Bill Burton’s widow.
      “I had the privilege of being a contributing writer for Bay Weekly for a dozen or so years — it was the dream ‘job’ during which I could exercise my passion for writing and my lifelong love of all things Chesapeake. It was also a gift of friendship with the editor and staff of Bay Weekly for which I will always be grateful,” wrote ML Faunce.
      “I have read the Bay Weekly every week for so many years. There was always good news to share, and I appreciate all the hard work of Sandra and the staff over the years,” wrote Pat Hofmann. 
      That’s only the start. You’ll read every word with me, I promise.
      Help from friends when you need it: Isn’t that the reason for Thanksgiving?