Thanksgiving Takes a Village, Too

| 15 Nov 2019 | 04:16

    Yes, dear readers, this is about Thanksgiving. But first, I can’t help but lament that once again the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is not a reasonable-facsimile, artificial tree instead of the live, 70-foot Norway spruce brought up from Florida. Maybe next year.

    And maybe this year, not so many lights, so this magnificent tree is not obscured. Maybe you agree that “less is more” for most Christmas trees. For most lighting, period. And while LED lights save energy, unlike incandescents, they don’t glow – they glare, and are not that good for our health. Do a search please.

    A Community Dinner

    But in the spirit of Thanksgiving – about time? – this most inclusive American tradition (and don’t we need that!) is again reflected in St, Monica’s Church ‘s Thanksgving dinner for the community as well as for its own congregation. Roz Panepento, a key force in this inclusive community event, recalls its history when 11 years ago the late Father Angelo Gambalese, then a pastor at St. Stephen’s of Hungary Church, was concerned about those in the church and the community who might be alone on this special day. He organized a Thanksgiving dinner at the church where members did all the work. Yes, peeling potatoes etc etc. Local merchants provided the food for the 50 or so people who attended the first dinner. The food was four-star, but even more nourishing, said thankful partakers, was the fellowship. Ah, the breaking of bread together so needs to be stressed – in general.

    And when the archdiocese shuttered St. Stephen’s of Hungary and it had to merge with St. Monica’s, Panepento recalls how heavy hearts were soothed when St. Monica’s priest Donald Baker continued the Thanksgiving tradition. St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church also merged with St. Monica’s and the event helped bring the three church congregations and the community closer together.

    It Takes a Village to Save Small Businesses

    It takes a village, especially when the so needed small businesses and eateries are becoming an endangered species citywide. Right around the corner from St. Monica’s, the entire First Avenue block between 79th and 80th, the places that met every day community needs have been razed to meet housing wants of a relatively affluent few.

    And how we wish faith groups had protested - and indeed would now demand that the new high-rise luxury apartment houses save the ground floor for the small businesses and eateries that meet the community’s everyday needs. The rents would, of course, have to be affordable.

    All It Takes for Evil to Triumph

    Gotta say that, and hopefully you will too, remembering that great truth, that most crucial warning “All it takes for evil to triumph, is for the concerned to say nothing.” And after seeing that decimated block of community places, and knowing it’s replicated all over the city, it had to be said in what made this column more of a Thanksgiving warning.

    So Very Thankful for You

    Do know how thankful I am for you dear readers and this paper. Of course you are wished a Thanksgiving for which to be thankful for. And again, for faith and civic groups that reach out and serve the community not only at Thanksgiving or holiday times. Oh yes, may sermons, not to mention political and campaign vows, stress the need for a truly neighborly city - not only on Thanksgiving or other holiday times – so nobody is left out. And all out support is needed for Bernie Sander’s mission to overcome elder loneliness.