Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday and we are looking forward to pausing our busy lives and appreciating friends and family. As we count our blessings, we also want to thank you for reading our newsletters (did you know they're all archived on our blog??) We hope they keep you amused.
Art: We've seen two knock-out shows in the past week and suggest that once the eating is over and the dishes are done, you take your gang on an art outing. The two shows, at the Skirball Cultural Center and the Annenberg Space for Photography, present very different ways that artists interpret the world. Kids can certainly relate to both and we will be writing a more complete review of each exhibit in December. But, we figure that most of you have time to visit them this week, so wanted to give you a head's up.
On view until mid-February at the Skirball is the first retrospective from a quintessential New Yorker. Maira Kallman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) provides us with an intimate and meticulous diarist's view of the world. Maira, whose illustrations are often featured on New Yorker covers, also has a fabulous new book "And the Pursuit of Happiness" which is a great holiday gift for anyone (but especially a teen); it's filled with illustrations and thoughts from a trip the artist took around the US exploring our democratic roots and realities. Don't forget to stop into the gift store for unique holiday gifts - a puzzle made of Kallman's famous New Yorker cover New Yorkistan, great notecards and, of course, Kallman's books.
On the other end of the spectrum is Extreme Exposures, a show at the Annenberg Space for Photography that showcases four photographers whose work pushes the envelope of convention and safety. We loved the portraits of polar bears and narwhals by Paul Nicklin, and were touched by the story of Clyde Butcher who gave up color work after his son died and creates magnificent large-format landscape portraits of the Southern bayou. Visiting the Annenberg is an easy family excursion. It's cozy to plop down on soft couches in the inner sanctum gallery to watch a not-to-be-missed video show about the photographers whose work is on view. Drop in to relax your mind before or after you hit the Century City mall or just snag one of these recycled messenger bags for the hipster on your list that the Annenberg makes from old street banners.
Giving: We can't sit down at our annual feast without being conscious that many families in our city are struggling to put food on the table. Click here for how you can participate in a Virtual Food Drive through the LA Regional Food Bank. Right before Thanksgiving we clean out our closets and give gently used clothing to those who need it most - we drop clothing at our local shelter, but Goodwill takes donations of all kinds, too. Whether you take pie to a shelter, work a food line, or just send a check, it's important to show kids that even a simple effort makes a difference. And, it's even easier to explain how a single act changes a life when you watch this utterly compelling video from Nike's charity project, The Girl Effect. It delivers a powerful message about the effectiveness of helping girls in developing countries. Gather your kids around the computer to watch this together - you won't soon forget it. (Not appropriate for children under 10).
Remember This: Our friend Marilu Henner is a great mom, a renowned actress and a book author (her topic is health). As if that weren't enough, we recently learned that she has an incredible, and unusual, memory called an autobiographical memory. Name a date in her lifetime and she can tell you where she was that day and what she was doing. 60 Minutes has produced a story about her (and the handful of other folks that have this type of memory); it will air sometime in the next few weeks, possibly the Sunday after Thanksgiving (depending on the news cycle). Set your Tivo's and check the 60 Minutes website so you can share this cool trait with the family. We think it's amusing to compare Marilu's gift with what most of us suffer from - a lot of forgetfulness! And leave it to Nora Ephron to nail this common characteristic in her new book (and excellent holiday gift) titled "I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections."
Teachers: We loved last week's Los Angeles Times article about a local teacher being surprised to win a $25,000 no-strings-attached grant from the Milken foundation which led us to think about our children's teachers and how grateful we are for all they do. Instead of holiday gifts, we got inspired to give them Thanksgiving thank-you gifts instead. Nothing too big, but enough to let them know they are making a key difference in our childrens' lives. (And, it's one more way to take the stress of December!).