Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Centerpiece, Central Park, NYC 2013
Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Today, Americans pause to give thanks for what we have.  I won't go into the history of the celebration other than to say it dates back to the days of the Pilgrims and marks the moment those early American immigrants came together as a community to celebrate the harvest.  In today's modern era, there are many variations on the Thanksgiving Day feast but the centerpiece is almost always a turkey.  I am looking forward to eating turkey today at my brother's house where the family that is still in the northeast will gather a bit later today to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  

Haunting, Man Playing Saxophone, Central Park, NYC, 2013
As I write this, the extravaganza that is the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is on the background.  Richard Simmons has just arrived at 34th street closely followed by Happy Hippo (hmm, what show is he from you may be wondering -- can't help there, haven't got a clue).  The crowds are out in full force and it's a bright sunny day in New York City.  It does look a tad cold.  I think that I fall down  on the NY aunt duties when it comes to events like the parade.  We took the kids once when they were younger -- my sister, sister-in-law, and I.  My brother stayed home to cook the turkey.  It was a rainy day that year and I bribed the youngest with a promise of a Barbie doll if she lasted through the parade without a meltdown.  She did.  We actually had a pretty good perch in the 70s for seeing the balloons but not so great for seeing the marchers.  We've always said that if we went back, we knew what to do to snag a seat on the bleachers but we never have.  It is so much saner to watch it on TV all warm and cozy.

So, what am I thankful for?  For family and friends near and far, that's the first thing.  I am thankful that I have my health and that I made it through foot surgery earlier this year.  I am very grateful that I am walking without pain (Wiggling my Toes, Bending my Toes, First Steps and New Toys, and Rolling through My Toes. Still working on range of motion so I'm tip toeing around my apartment and doing heel lifts every time I have a chance.  I am thankful that I live in New York City -- one of the most vibrant places on earth and a photographer's paradise.  Although all the photos in this post are from Central Park, I am thankful that I made the decision to get out into the streets of NYC at least once a month.  It's challenged me to learn how to pick out the detail in the bustling city that is New York and to see my world through a different set of eyes.  I am very thankful that I am back on Instagram after a three-month hiatus -- what a powerful platform.  I am thankful that I have a roof over my head and a job that I love.  

Gapstow Bridge in Fall, Central Park, NYC 2013
Gapstow Bridge in Fall, Central Park,  NYC
I am very thankful for the geriatrics team at the University of Connecticut this year as they are always there for my Mom when she needs them.   We have too few geriatrics health professionals to care for our aging population and the rest of the workforce has too little training in the unique health care needs of people like my Mom.  I am thankful for each step forward that we take on preparing our health care workforce.  This year we took a giant leap with the Department of Labor's new interpretation of the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) that -- finally -- gives home care workers the same minimum wage and overtime protection that I enjoy.  We need this workforce if we are to help older adults to age in place. 

On the Path to Shakespeare's Garden, Central Park, NYC 2013
On the Path to Shakespeare's Garden
OK, I have to take a break to comment on the parade.  How weird is it that Kristen Chenoweth (OMG can she sing) is belting out New York, New York on a Royal Caribbean Float.  Really parade planners, you couldn't do better than that in terms of planning where she would be standing?  The float reminds me that I am always curious about the financing of the parade -- more and more it seems like a progression of advertisements for products (KoolAid, Ocean Spray, Lindt Chocolate).  It's kind of like half-time at the Super Bowl.  Having said that, I can't resist posting this little bit of fun from Cirque d'Soleil.  Amazing float and so glad I got to see its debut.

So far, this post has been fairly inward facing -- a prolonged contemplation of my own navel as it were.  Let's shake that up a bit.  Al Roker just announced the temperature -- 32 degrees and with a wind chill of 23 degrees.  Everyone at the parade is bundled up -- most likely in the latest fabrics for keeping us warm.  But what about those who are not at the parade -- the homeless who are tucked away in the corners of Central Park just trying to find a spot out of the wind or in the sun.  Over the past couple of weekends, I snapped a few   quick photos of homeless people in well-traveled sections of the park and I've been thinking about them ever since.  I know that whatever I can do is just going to be a drop in the bucket but I am making  contributions today to Partnership for the Homeless and City Harvest.  These are new charities for me but it feels right to make these gifts on this day.

Homeless at Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, NYC, 2013
Homeless at Bethesda Fountain
A Thanksgiving Appeal from Me to You
Before you sit down for your Thanksgiving Day meal or as you wind down this evening, consider making a donation to your local organization that serves the homeless in your community.  The original Thanksgiving was not just about family -- it was about community.  The best communities come together for more than just a Thanksgiving Day parade -- they come together to support those less fortunate.  I am thankful that I can give to Partnership for the Homeless and City Harvest.  I am even more grateful for colleagues, strangers, and friends who volunteer in soup kitchens and who work with the homeless on a daily basis.  They are the true backbone of a strong community -- one that watches out for those less fortunate and lends a helping hand.  My thanks to them for all that they do.

Shrouded, Central Park, NYC, 2013

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