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Giving Thanks for HOME (and Wine too!)

November 25, 2021

HOME — Black Rock City, Nevada aka Burning Man

Have a Happy Thanksgiving from Chumash lands here on the windy coast of California! From our home to your home– whether that home be a mountain slope, a seaside beach, or a VW Van! I’m grateful to have so many caring friends and readers of my writing here on Art Predator and on Wine Predator. In a year full of death — globally from the pandemic, and losses closer to home (my dad KC Lawrence, my cousin LeiLani Lisa Lawrence who instigated the pandemic dances, my creative writing advisor Al Young, and my dog Cisco) plus being underemployed and in transition in so many ways, there is still much to be grateful for.
While I love the idea of giving thanks that lies behind today’s observance of Thanksgiving, the history of Thanksgiving is much more troubled.
The Thanksgiving story we learned in school growing up is largely a myth that erases the people who lived here for millennia before the Pilgrims and the Puritans made their way to these shores.
The first Thanksgiving celebration didn’t even take place in Plymouth, Massachusetts, reports historian Heather Cox Richardson, and the holiday has more to do with creating unity during the Civil War than anything else. “While the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags did indeed share a harvest feast in fall 1621, and while early colonial leaders periodically declared days of thanksgiving when settlers were supposed to give their thanks for continued life and– with luck—prosperity, neither of these gave rise to our national celebration of Thanksgiving,” she wrote last year in her Thanksgiving “Letter” published on Facebook and Substack as well as discussed in her history chats.
“In 1841, a book that reprinted the early diaries and letters from the Plymouth colony recovered the story of that three-day celebration in which ninety Indigenous Americans and the English settlers shared fowl and deer,” wrote Heather Cox Richardson in her “Letter” published on Thanksgiving Eve 2021. “This story of peace and goodwill among men who by the 1840s were more often enemies than not inspired Sarah Josepha Hale, who edited the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, to think that a national celebration could ease similar tensions building between the slave-holding South and the free North. She lobbied for legislation to establish a day of national thanksgiving.”
Thanksgiving celebrates Union victories in the Civil War, the survival of our democratic government, and Lincoln’s desire to bring the people of the United States together.
“In 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal of slave owners from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the battlefields even as they continued to work on the home front for a government that promoted the common good. And they won,” writes Heather Cox Richardson.

Today our democratic government is also threatened by oligarchy and radical movement conservatives who under the former president decline to accept last year’s election, and who led an insurrection that stormed the US capital where our elected representatives were certifying the election of President Biden. They are gerrymandering districts and doing all they can to suppress the vote to stay in power. These actions increase inequity and income inequality that threatens our country’s stability.

Today some of us are doing what we can to bring about greater equity, and one important aspect of that is to recognize whose land we are on. The United States was populated by indigenous people who thrived until European settlers brought diseases which decimated the populace.

As we express our gratitude today, as we consider what foods to prepare and what wine to pour with them, consider, reflect, and acknowledge who came before on the land where we call HOME.

Home for me is Ventura County. My great-grandparents settled here, my mother’s parents were born here, and so was my mother, Suzanne P. Lawrence.

Ventura, where I live, and where I’m celebrating this year, and where grow the Ventura County vineyards that I champion, are on Barbareño/Ventureño Chumash land.

Only a mile or so away from where I live, near Figueroa Street and the Ventura County Fairgrounds, lie the remains of a large village where thousands lived. Today,  thousands of cars pass overhead on the 101 freeway without any knowledge of these coastal people who were seamen, farmers, and hunters, and whose contributions have been mostly erased, these people who were enslaved by the Mission system, and who worked at the San Buenaventura Mission founded by Father Serra.

native People of CA

native People of CA

In this post today, in this one on Wine Predator from September, and this one from Indigenous Peoples Day in October, I seek to acknowledge the people who came before us on this land as a message of respect and honor. If you’d like to learn more, here are a few community resources and books:

Clos des Amis Field Blend + Filet Mignon

If you’re still trying to decide on wine, here’s a few tips. Consider your audience: What do they usually drink? What’s the menu? Are they open to new wine experiences? Drawing from my years of experience, consider the following pairings:

  • white meat (chicken, turkey, fish) = white wine (chardonnay, sparkling)
  • pink meat (ham, pork loin, salmon, duck) = pink wine (rose, Pinot Noir, sparkling)
  • red meat (prime rib, steak, braised meats) = red wine (zinfandel)
  • dark desserts (pecan pie, pumpkin) = dark wines (especially port, and sweet sherries)
  • light desserts (cookies, creamy, fruit) = lighter wines (sparkling, rose, sweet Bordeaux)

Bottling Field Blend

More specifically, I’d argue that every holiday table of six or more wine drinkers needs the following five wines which you can get for $100 or so:

  • a bottle of bubbles (check these out) or just pick up a bottle of Lucien Albrecht at the grocery store for around $20–it’s from the Alsace in France.
  • a bottle of rose — no need to spend more than $20, but it should be DRY so if you get one from France’s Provence you’re set
  • a bottle of white wine and while I love interesting Italians, I’d go for Chardonnay
  • a bottle of Zinfandel — yep, really! It goes well with turkey, ham, and beef! There’s plenty of great ones out there for $20 or $30 and if you only bring ONE BOTTLE make it zin! 
  • a bottle of a dessert wine for dessert– port, madeira, sherry, sweet Bordeaux


Peanuts Thanksgiving






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