Our Way Of Life
Okay, isn’t that what this particular holiday is really about? Our nearly four-hundred-year-old celebration of a trans-atlantic voyage to start a new life? It’s the ultimate immigrants’ story, the ultimate pioneers’ story. And isn’t that what we’re all about these days? Protecting, defending, and preserving the life that we fought so hard to build for ourselves. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to peacably assemble, etc. etc. Four hundred years later, these things are definitely still worth fighting for. And worth fighting about, too. Which is pretty much what our democratic process is all about, too. And I guess, for that, we should be eternally grateful.
Our Talents, Our Skills, Our Gifts
We may not think so at times, but the fact of the matter is, we’ve all got ‘em. Never enough of them probably, and maybe sometimes not exactly the ones we want or need. But, yessir, everybody’s got something special about them. Something special that probably only their Creator and their Moms (same difference) ever really understand. There’s this rather cheesy tree-hugging expression that tells us “Find Your Bliss” – but there’s also a lot to be said for that. Because when you like doing something, no matter what age you are, you’re good at it. And when you’re good at it, then you like doing it. And vice-versa. And vice-versa again. The trick? Finding out just exactly what that thing might be. And by the way, holiday time is usually a good time to reflect on these sorts of things – a little bit of a slower pace, a little bit more think time. So… what are you waiting for?
If we’ve learned anything at this newspaper these 135 or so years, it’s that our city is made up of not just five boroughs, but of an infinite number of neighborhoods, of communities. Places like Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood, Long Island City, Astoria, Williamsburg, Forest Hills, Maspeth. They are what give structure to our lives – the most basic components of them anyway. These communities are where we’re from, and in essence, who we are. And yes, while there’s a commonality within our neighborhoods, there’s also a wonderfully complex diversity to how they all mesh together to make up this great city of ours – heck, this great nation of ours. It’s something that this most recent Presidential election was certainly all about, but it’s also something that New York, especially Brooklyn and Queens, probably does better than most.
Our Everyday Heroes
Yes, definitely cops, and firefighters, and doctors, and paramedics, and teachers – oh yeah, absolutely. These are the men and women who will always be the tops of the top! We definitely salute you, as always, and quite frankly, there just aren’t enough caps for us to tip in your direction. But then again, what about the people who don’t always seem to get that kind of attention or adulation? The ones who can somehow make the ordinary extra-ordinary, especially when we need it most. The ones who don’t have to provide us that proverbial service with a smile, but because they do – our generally tough day gets maybe just a little bit easier. They’re everywhere, if you’re paying attention. Maybe it’s your favorite waitress, as ready with a compliment as she is with another cup. Or maybe it’s that friendly guy at the post office who makes you forget about the long line you just waited on. Could be your FEDEX guy, or your DHL guy, or the energetic guy at the little bodega where you always get your morning paper. Or better yet, your school’s crossing guard, who is entrusted, rain or shine, with the safety of your most prized possessions, your children. Well, guess what, people, there’s no better time than this to tell them they’re appreciated. And you know what, I think they’ll definitely appreciate it if you do.
Ye of little faith, I don’t know what to tell you, but regardless of your political views, you have to admit that we’re in a little bit of a different arena in this regard. Something that was once thought impossible, is now our reality. And “Yes, We Can” sure does mean a whole lot more than just a Presidential election, if you think about it. It’s the idea that when we set our minds to something, when we come together on things, we can be heard, we can be successful, we can help fix things, we can help build things. And whatever your religion, whatever your belief system, there is definitely something to this notion that what lurks just around the corner is not death and despair, not Armageddon, but rather change, hope, and the promise of a better day.
Whitney Houston sure knew what she was talking about when she sang, “I believe that children are our future.” And isn’t that what it’s all about for us, on a daily basis? What are we all working so hard for, if not to leave the world a better place for our children? This time of year especially, we’re reminded that, to see the world through a child’s eyes is to see the world as we probably all ought to – each day a minor miracle, filled with wonder and discovery and delight and learning and growth. And there’s definitely something to be said for the ability to get down on your hands and knees, and crawl around on the floor with the kids – see what they see, touch what they touch. In fact, I’d urge each and every one of you to try it at least once this holiday season!
Ultimately, this is what it’s really all about for us Americans. As complicated as our new President’s family tree may be, didn’t a lot of us also see a little bit of ourselves in that kind of lineage? For the rest of us, maybe Grandma and Grandpa came over on a boat, through Ellis Island. Or maybe they’d already been here for hundreds of years. Or maybe it’s your youngest who’ll be the first one in the family to go to college. Maybe Junior’s going to be a firefighter just like Dad was, and Gramps, too. Maybe little Sis is the one who’s going to become famous, and make the whole neighborhood proud. It just goes to show you – no matter how unappreciated they may be at present, our families are our connection to our history. Every breath we take, every move we make is hopefully an improvement on the legacy of our forebears. Because that’s really what keeps this country moving forward, the continual perpetuation and thriving of our communities, the continual perpetuation and thriving of our families.
Okay, so maybe there are times when your family doesn’t understand. Who do you turn to, then? C’mon, you know... your friends! The ones who always see the best in you, the ones who always root for your success. The ones who are always there for you when the chips are down. And the first ones you want to celebrate with when things are going great. They’re the ones who help you move out – or in. They’re the ones who give you that much-needed ride to the airport. Maybe it’s the guy you went to medical school with. Or it’s your former teammate on the Girls Volleyball team. Or that office mate from your first real job. Or the kid who lived around the corner from you. Whoever it is, ignore that idea that Michael Corleone was trying to put out there in “The Godfather” – keep them closer. Your friends, that is.