San Diego American Indian Holiday Dinner Delights

By Roy Cook

Red suit Santa and his ‘one eyed sleigh’ circled like the traditional eagle over the Holiday Dinner December 17, 2005. Inside the hall the festive cheer and round dance songs had everyone thinking it felt a lot like Jingle bell Rez-Christmas! Our good friend Randy Edmonds opened the afternoon with insightful words of welcome. He and his wife Bonnie are faithful supporters of these community gatherings and for twenty-five years he was at the helm of the Indian Human Resource Center (IHRC).

There are food and gifts galore for the small and not so small. There are generous selections of new gifts for all the Indian Children. There are thoughtful gifts for all the beautiful Indian ladies attending the afternoon event. There are also guy gifts from the American Indian Chamber of Commerce and The Pala Indian Band. Additionally there is Inter-Tribal entertainment for everyone and songs to bring pride to the hearts of those far away from home in these holiday times.

I cannot praise the kitchen staff enough for the bountiful tables of delightful side dishes and generous quantities of baked turkeys and hams. I missed the traditional cheese and peanut butter not being on the tables but there were other exotic choices to enjoy. Thanks also to those who cooked turkeys and hams at home and prepared the side dishes for the feast.

How about the elders and the kids? They are the main focus of many of our traditional Indian gatherings. Each age group, old and young, represents the Wisdom and the Future of our Indian world. All those that volunteer to make these gatherings a success realize we do this from a motivation of respect and hope. It does take a lot of work and effort and too often things do not come together until the last minute. But when we see the smiles and satisfaction across the room, well, it is all-worthwhile. The Council of American Indian Organizations of San Diego County sponsors this event. Paula Brim, Esther Abrahano, Juan Castellanos and Vickie Gambala were key contact people and their efforts were rewarded by the large turn out and mostly happy responses.
Many of the volunteers participate in more than one Indian service club or organization. Esther Abrahano is the President of the TONKAWA Indian Senior club and the Gatherer for the American Indian element of this Methodist Church. Don Vigneault and Jerry Starnes work in the kitchen each year. They are members and office holders in the American Indian Warriors Association, AIWA, along with this author. Joe Renteria and his wife along with John Hood and his family served on the board of the IHRC, Richard Parker Van Dyke and his family, Clay Two bears and Anita, Ron Murphy, newly elected AIWA President and his wife and it was good to see old friends again like: Gwen Durbin and her youngest son, Marie Swenson and her granddaughter, Ilene and Arnold George.

Special Tribal entertainment added to the culturally rich afternoon. Featured are: Kathy and Steve Garcia Family Dance group, Rob Anderson and David Solomon flute and drum performance, Red Warriors Singers, lead by Tim Redbird, kept the heartbeat of the Indian Nations pulsating the entire afternoon. Additionally, the ever-popular Vickie Gambala’s Kids Corner produced artistic creations and great fun under the supervision of the San Diego Indian Education Title VII program. The Red Warriors sang dozens of special songs and provided the appropriate songs for the Garcia family dance group. The Garcia troupe led out the round dance and everyone had a chance to stretch their legs and work up a little appetite for another slice of pie or cookies

This afternoon was defiantly a dandy time for one and all. Remember to pray for those who are unable to attend due to health or legal circumstances. Add a special prayer for our military on the line and in harms way. Thank you for being there and maybe we will see you at the next American Indian community event. Mehan, Aho.