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The 12 Days of Mount Washington 'Thanksmas'--Part 1

The author proposes making Christmas the holiday of thanks and composes the first half of a "Thanksmas" list of gratitude.

I would like to nominate Christmas as the official holiday of thanks.

Oh, I know why Thanksgiving won the gratitude moniker.  The Pilgrims, woefully unprepared for survival in the New Land, had food to sustain them through the winter--thanks to the Native Americans.

We’re always thankful for good neighbors.

And of course, in farming communities, such as the San Joaquin Valley where I grew up, there is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that harvest is over and (hopefully) successful, whether the crop is cotton or carrots.

So I know all the reasons why we give thanks on Thanksgiving.  But in my opinion, November is too early to start making your grateful list and checking it twice.

There’s Still Christmas!

After Thanksgiving, there’s still another month to go and a tough one at that: the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza marathon.  Every year, I am thankful if I get through December without losing my sanity, gaining a hundred pounds and catching the cold, flu and bubonic plague all at once.

It could happen.

So when I quietly collapse between the Xmas and the Hanukkah lights, I’m just happy that I made it through in (relatively) one piece.

A Year of Mount Washington

But of course, it’s impossible to live in a community like Mount Washington without feeling grateful for a whole lot more than mere survival.

This December is the one-year anniversary of Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch and going month-by-month through the last year of “The View From Jack Smith’s Street”, I have composed a “Twelve Months of Mount Washington Thanksmas” list.  (See how I snuck that new title in?  Feel free to use it liberally and…voila!  My holiday renaming work is done.)

Twelve Days of Thanksmas–Part 1

On the First Month of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a community. 

I may not have implemented--yet--the Microfarmer “lasagna method” beds as demonstrated by fearless Microfarmer leader Anna Carpenter and fearless test farmer Connie Rohman.  But this black-thumbed farmer’s daughter was inspired to start a balcony garden and grew tomatoes into December.  Thanks, Microfarmers!

On the Second Month of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: training for the .

Oh, we love our dogs here on Mount Washington, even when they’re delinquent. (OK, maybe only the owners love their delinquent dogs.) Thanks to dog trainer Lezle Stein of , the Small Black Dog has become, if not a model citizen, at least an infinitely more civilized canine. I, my family, and my neighbors thank you, Lezle.

On the Third Month of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: friends who were there.

Through our kids, through our connections, through our celebrations and our sorrow, Mount Washington is home because our friends are here whether in spirit or in flesh.  This year, I am thankful for everyone who was there.

On the Fourth Month of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: .

Why would I be grateful for skunks?  Because they remind us that we’re in one of the last, wild communities in Los Angeles.  They keep the Small Black Dog on his toes.  And even though they’re stinky, they’re awfully cute as they waddle while they walk.

On the Fifth Month of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me:

I don’t walk it as often as I’d like, but I’m grateful that the Monk’s Trail is there with its (not quite a) sea view.  I’m grateful that real estate agent Bob Scholfield loved Mount Washington and that his neighbors Adel and Doss Mabe and Ann Dudrow helped the hill “stay green forever’ in Scholfield's honor by buying the lots below the trail and donating them to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory.  I’m grateful to Lynnette Kampe and Jerry Schneider for planting native plants and installing benches from which to enjoy them.  Is this the greatest community ever?!

On the Sixth Month of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me:

Mount Washington may not have the concentration of public staircases--built in the 1920’s to traverse the hills--found in Silver Lake or Echo Park.  However, the Hill has the granddaddy of L.A. staircases--the steep, wooden-stepped Eldred Stairway near Avenue 49, as well as, among many others, the mural-brightened Oneonta-Olancha stairs, and the succulent-sided Clermont stairs.  Think of them as free gyms that combine history with handrails.

Those of us in danger of gaining approximately 100 pounds in December are very, very grateful.

Stay tuned for The 12 Days of Thanksmas–Part Two!

Merry Thanksmas, Mount Washington!

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