If you read this column later in the week in which the most recent edition of this publication is distributed, you might well do so feeling a bit tired, a touch full in the stomach, and, perhaps, a tad out of sorts. This is quite understandable, as you will be perusing these words of mine subsequent to the annual “GOBBLEFEST.” Yes, of course, I am referring to our national holiday, Thanksgiving Day. However, I refer to it as “GOBBLEFEST,” not only because of this holiday’s signature tradition of enjoying a turkey dinner, but likewise because Thanksgiving is all too frequently a busy and bustling day upon which one contends with “I,” “C,” “I” — i.e., “Irritation” with preparing for visiting relatives and guests, “Congestion” on the highways, and “Indigestion” after eating and drinking too much! Too many of us, “Yours Truly” included, “gobble” down a little more than we should in the course of commemorating this yearly event.
Nonetheless, in spite of the aforementioned, Thanksgiving is a day to take stock of life and to take the time to be grateful for whatever blessings with which we have been gifted. As we sit round and about our Thanksgiving dinner tables, we can plainly and immediately see right in front of our nose the most significant and precious of these graces and good fortunes — viz., family, friends, health, happiness, and the means with which to provide for and to support ourselves. In these gifts, hopefully we are prompted and prodded to recall and to honor those two fundamental realities that underlie and underwrite them — specifically the God who gives us life and who redeems it along with a free country with its open, democratic society that affords us the opportunity to enjoy and to exercise our God-given human rights and dignity. For God and for nation, and for all those blessings that issue forth from them, we need to be humbly appreciative for who we are and for all that we have.
On this Thanksgiving week in the Year of Our Lord 2009, I write to give public thanks for all with which I have been endowed, not the least of which is the privilege of serving as the chairman of Community Board 12. It has been, and remains, an awesome honor that I neither take for granted nor fail to be grateful for each and every day of the tenure of my service. Notice here that I utilize the expression “to give thanks,” for to my mind, there is a distinction between merely “SAYING THANKS” and really and actually “GIVING THANKS.” The distinction between them is neither superficial nor simply stylistic or terminological. There is a bona fide dichotomy that is best defined and highlighted by the wisdom contained in the familiar, old adage “ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS” as well as in the insightful admonition that words are oft times cheap. To aver only that something is such assigns that idea or entity a much lower and less significant level of cognition and recognition than to manifest its factual reality and its true presence by deed and by habitual practice. More importantly than maintaining that I am a grateful person is the upholding and the routine observance of a way of life that exhibits thankfulness and gratitude. The undertaking of such a lifestyle, in my humble estimation, is the genuine test of Thanksgiving and all for which it stands. Thanksgiving is not just a day. Thanksgiving should be, and MUST be, a way of life!
This declaration naturally should lead a thoughtful individual to inquire what a “Thanksgiving” way of living entails. For what it is worth, I believe it requires one to live in peaceable, respectful, and civil concord with others. Scripture instructs us that gratefulness to God is best demonstrated by esteem and regard without distinction for all of God’s children, icons of the Divine Image and Presence in whose Holy Image they have been created. Appreciation for the blessings of our magnificent land is preeminently displayed in facilitating and protecting the exercise of the God-given and constitutional liberties that we claim for our loved ones and ourselves. A most excellent fashion in which to proclaim our appreciation of family, friends, home, and the ability to support them is to enable others to realize and to have the benefit of these blessings as well. Thus is the challenge of a sound and sincere thankful person, not only on the Thursday that is Thanksgiving Day but on every day in every year. May it be an endeavor that we accept with relish and succeed in beyond all expectation.
On behalf of myself, my district manager Carmen Rosa and her staff, and all of my colleagues on CB 12, I convey best wishes for this holiday and for the others soon to follow, along with the hope that our gracious and grateful way of living will redound to the benefit of our neighborhood, our Borough, City, State, Nation, and, indeed, the whole world. In the spirit of appreciation and gratitude for all of our blessings, please remember the men and women who watch over us and protect us and who, therefore, are not be able like us in spending time with their family and their loved ones on Thanksgiving Day.
I speak, of course, of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States and of our New York City Police and Fire Departments. May God reward them in a special way for their service.
Until next time, that’s it for this time!