Wow - it's December already, my favorite time of year. It's the only time of the year I can think of that people are generally thoughtful and nice to each other. You might accidentally bump into someone on the street and instead of getting a finger and mouthful, you get an "excuse me", a smile and "happy holidays".
T's the season for gift giving too. Most people think of the gifts they give loved ones so I'll start there. CAUTION: this is a shameless plug for Chilifest tickets, Chowdafest's sister event that will take place on the 'soup'er bowl when Chowdafest used to be held. Nothing says happy holidays like chili in your stocking. At $10 bucks, a ticket to Chilifest on Sun. Feb 1 at Bedford Middle School in Westport makes a great stocking stuffer. Go to www.Come2Chilifest.com for more info and to get your "hot" gift.
OK, back to gift giving part II. Here's and idea. Give the gift of yourself which in turn will be giving a gift to yourself. Volunteer for something over the holidays. I promise you'll experience the true spirit of the season. Might I recommend voluntering for Community Plates? CP is the charity Chowdafest supports and we do so than just giving them a check from our event. Many of us volunteer to pick up rescued food from restaurants and grocery stores and get it to so many places that need it. I never truly understood the magnitutude of need in our own community - it's so much bigger than most people realize.
You can go to www.CommunityPlates.org and find a "run" that works for you. It's a very efficient process and working with both the restaurant/grocery stoore along with the shelter, will change your perceptions on things. The shelters are astonishly great to work with and so happy for the help. They are truly serving a need that gets masked here in Fairfield County. The restaurants and grocery stores are equally thrilled that their food isn't going to waste and serving a purpose. Pitching in to pick-up and drop off food is both helpful and meaningful. It's a gift in so many senses of the word.
Jim Keenan: Creator and Chief Chowda-head.