Tags Posts tagged with "Thanksgiving"


By Elaine Holmes

Comsewogue High School congratulates sophomore Elliot Jaklitsch on being named a Macy’s Great American Marching Band member.  

Honoring America’s finest high school musicians, color guard members and dancers, this marching band comprises select students from across the country.

Above, Elliot Jaklitsch, sophomore at Comsewogue High School. Photo courtesy Elaine Holmes

Jaklitsch will be one of 185 musicians chosen to perform for this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan. This prestigious band will be positioned among the gigantic helium balloons, impressive floats and the nation’s top marching bands.  

“I am so excited to have this amazing opportunity,” Jaklitsch said. “I am looking forward to meeting musicians from all over the United States and marching in one of the best parades.”  

Stepping off from Central Park, the band will be cheered on by an estimated 3 million spectators lining the parade route. Arriving at Macy’s Herald Square, the band will perform for celebrity hosts, a grandstand audience and the usual millions of TV viewers watching the  broadcast live from home. 

“Elliot is an incredible young lady, and we are very proud of her accomplishment,” said Michael Mosca, Comsewogue High School principal.

To watch the Macy’s audition video with Jaklitsch playing the mellophone, see above video.

Elaine Holmes is the orchestra director at Comsewogue High School.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The holiday season is in full bloom. Our beautiful villages with Christmas lights and wreaths reminds us what this time of year is supposed to be about. We celebrate the holiday season across a landscape that is polarized and profoundly divisive. 

Our recent midterm elections have made the powerful statement that Americans are tired of hearing about election steal lies. They are tired of conspiracy theories and rhetoric that is blatantly false and disgraceful.

The midterm elections have made a powerful statement that democracy is more powerful than autocracy; that we as a nation want to move forward and find new ways to collaborate with each other for the sake of all Americans.

As you prepare to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, I hope our faith leaders have the courage to stand up and speak for truth, for social justice and respect for all people no matter what their race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class.

Our silence, when it comes to serious life issues that impact all of us, is a statement of complicity. Shame on those of us who hold positions of religious leadership and remain silent. Shame on those who hold positions of religious leadership and fuel the hate and polarization that is paralyzing our nation.

However, despite this chaotic landscape I continue to remain exceptionally hopeful because I am blessed to see miracles and human transformation every day. 

Every morning when I get up, I look out at our garden of remembrance. There are more than 120 crosses representing all the innocent lives that have been lost to overdose and addiction since the pandemic. They are from our community. They have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters that live among us. I know these days are hard for their families. We must never forget but always remember their gift of life.

Human kindness continues to live on in our midst. Hopefully during this holiday season, it will become contagious. Recently a retired schoolteacher told me a powerful story. She was on line at Taco Bell in her car and her eyes met the eyes of a man in a red truck in front of her. It was just a momentary glance. When she got to the window to pay, the cashier told her there was no charge. The man in the red truck had covered her meal. Needless to say, she was overwhelmed. 

The cashier gave her a note which I have permission to share with you: “To the person behind me in line, please accept this small act of kindness today as a reminder that all of us have bad days, but not all of us were fortunate enough to wake up this morning and have a day at all. No matter how hard it gets, keep going! You are stronger than your most difficult hour, and there are so many people supporting you even if you haven’t met them yet. Peace, love, tacos — a random stranger.”

As we celebrate the holiday season this year, let us reach out with random kindness to the strangers in our midst that could become our friends!

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Beverly C. Tyler

[email protected]

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day as the end of the season of harvest was and still is an important milestone in people’s lives. Diaries, journals and letters provide some of the earliest records of seasonal activity and how people connected with each other to mark occasions. In America, before the telephone became a standard household item, family members and friends stayed in touch through the U.S. Postal Service.     

In 1873, a new phenomenon began when the United States Postal Service issued the first penny postcards. During the first six months, they sold 60 million. With the postcard, brevity was essential due to the small space provided. Long descriptive phrases and lengthy expressions of affection, which then were commonly used in letter writing, gave way to short greetings. 

The postcard was an easy and pleasant way to send a message. A postcard sent from one town in the morning or afternoon would usually arrive in a nearby town that afternoon or evening. A postcard sent from another state would not take much longer.

The feasting aspect of Thanksgiving has continued to be an essential part of the holiday and many of the postcards that were sent reflected that theme. In addition, the postcard helped to tie the family members together with those who were absent during the holiday.

As the telephone became more widely used, the postcard became less and less important as a means of daily communications. However, it provided us with a view of the early years of the 20th century that became a permanent record of contacts between family members and friends.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit www.tvhs.org. 

— Postcards from Beverly C. Tyler’s collection

Pumpkin Pie. METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Here comes my favorite weekend of the year: Thanksgiving. It starts on a Thursday, as all good weekends should. We, the Dunaief Clan, have managed to extend it into three, even four days. We deserve no less. Like many American families, our immediate members are stretched across the entire continent, from the California coast to the middle of Suffolk County on Long Island, and from below the Mason-Dixon Line and the Florida Peninsula to the Gulf of Mexico. They need that much time just to get to Grandma’s house and back.

What’s waiting for them when they arrive? Food! All kinds of favorite foods. And love. Lots of love that bridges three generations with mighty hugs. Why, it even takes a good part of that long weekend before all the members of the family finish hugging each other, at which point we sit down to eat. We get back up some hours later, only to regroup for the next meal. We know we are among the fortunate in that regard and give thanks.

Food means so many different things. There are the traditional historic dishes that symbolize the meal eaten by the Pilgrims. But we have added so much more to the basics. And each person has a favorite that tickles them when they look at the offerings on the laden table and know it was prepared especially for them. Food is love, and special foods carry that message.

It still amazes me to be surrounded by the many members of my tribe. Almost 60 years ago, before I was married, there was just me. Then, three months later, there were the two of us, my husband and I. Now there are children and children-in-law, and their children and eventually, their children-in-law. Together we populate the dining room and fill the house with chatter and laughter.

One of the high points of the weekend follows Thanksgiving dinner, when we are still sitting around the table, digesting sufficiently until we can have dessert, and we tell each other what we are most thankful for that occurred in the past year. In that way, I get to catch up on some of the events in my loved ones’ lives, and they on mine.

Speaking of dessert, the pumpkin pies will be an issue this year. For all the Thanksgivings we have celebrated here, 53 to be exact, we have enjoyed the classic finale from The Good Steer. Their pies pleased all our taste buds, from my children to my parents, who would join us from the city during those early years. Alas, The Good Steer on Middle Country Road in Lake Grove is no more, the family having closed the business. 

So, faced with this significant void, I have done some research and have come up with replacements. Whether they will be acceptable remains a sensitive question. I’ve had a number of friends offer suggestions, and I thank them kindly because they understand how important it is to find an alternative source. After all, no two differently-made pumpkin pies taste the same. The result here hangs in the balance until Thursday eve. Keep your fingers crossed for me, as my reputation as the Best Thanksgiving Grandma depends on this important outcome.

Actually I have a monopoly on the title. Thanksgiving is always celebrated at our house. My in-law children know and accept that arrangement because I trade Thanksgiving for Christmas. That seems to work for everyone in the family.

This year, we have a special event to celebrate. My oldest grandson has asked the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with to marry him, and she has accepted. We will welcome her enthusiastically, and I will give thanks for the blessing of seeing our family continue to grow.

Wishing you all, Dear Readers, a Happy Thanksgiving with the foods you enjoy and the people you love, whether they be relatives or close friends or perhaps those you recently met and have chosen to share this celebratory meal. 

On this day, we are reminded that we are all Americans together.

Thanksgiving Turkey. METRO photo

By Heidi Sutton

While there are no laws governing which dishes must appear on Thanksgiving dinner tables, for many the fourth Thursday of November simply would not be complete without turkey. Turkey can be cooked in various ways, but roasting might be the most popular method used by Thanksgiving celebrants. This recipe for “Herb-Roasted Turkey” from Yolanda Banks’ “Cooking for Your Man” (Broadway Books) produces a mouth-watering bird that’s sure to make a lasting impression this Thanksgiving.

Herb-Roasted Turkey

YIELD:  Serves 10


12 tablespoons (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1⁄4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus 4 whole sprigs

1 large sprig fresh rosemary, leaves chopped, plus 2 whole sprigs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 4 whole sprigs

15 leaves fresh sage, chopped, plus 3 whole leaves

3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the turkey

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the turkey

1 15-pound turkey

1 lemon, quartered

8 shallots, peeled and halved

1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock

2⁄3 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour


In a small bowl, combine the butter, chopped parsley, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, chopped sage, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 F. Sprinkle the main cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Place the whole sprigs of parsley, rosemary and thyme and the sage leaves into the cavity. Add the lemon, 4 shallot halves and half of the garlic cloves.

Starting at the neck end, carefully slide a hand between the skin and the breast meat to loosen the skin. Spread 3 tablespoons of the herb butter over the breast meat under the skin. Tuck the wing tips under the skin, and tie the legs together to hold the shape. Season the turkey generously all over with salt and pepper.

Place the turkey on a wire rack set in a large roasting pan. Rub 4 tablespoons of the herb butter over the turkey. Roast about 30 minutes, until golden brown, and reduce the heat to 350 F. Baste the turkey with 1⁄2 cup of the broth. Cover only the breast area with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Scatter the remaining shallots and garlic cloves in the pan around the turkey.

Continue to roast the turkey for about 11⁄2 hours, basting with 1⁄2 cup of broth every 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the turkey breast. Continue to roast the turkey, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes, about 1 hour longer, until it’s golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F. Transfer the turkey to a platter and brush with 1 tablespoon of the herb butter. Tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots and garlic from the roasting pan to a plate. Transfer the pan juices to a medium bowl, then skim off and discard the fat. Set the pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Deglaze the pan with the wine and 1 cup of chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until it’s reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Pour the sauce into a large measuring glass. Add the degreased pan juices, and broth, if necessary, to equal 3 cups of liquid.

Blend the flour into the remaining herb butter until combined. Pour the broth mixture into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in the herb-butter mixture. Add any accumulated juices from the turkey platter and boil until the gravy thickens enough to coat a spoon, whisking occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining shallots and garlic to the gravy and simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Serve the turkey with the gravy.

It’s time to change up your holiday dinner options

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Many consider Thanksgiving a time to indulge and not think about the repercussions. Even if we have the best of intentions, it’s hard to resist indulging in our childhood favorites and secret family recipes spread before us in a sprawling buffet.

Unfortunately, that one meal, and perhaps subsequent leftover meals, can have striking health consequences. And if you tend to overeat, be aware that there are significant short-term consequences of gorging ourselves.

Not surprisingly, people tend to gain weight from Thanksgiving to New Year. This is when many gain the predominant amount of weight for the entire year. However, most do not lose the weight they gain during this time (1). If you can fend off weight gain during the holidays, think of the possibilities for the rest of the year.

If you are obese and sedentary, you may already have heart disease. Overeating at a single meal increases your risk of heart attack over the near term, according to the American Heart Association (2). 

The good news is that, with a little Thanksgiving planning, you can reap significant health benefits.

What can we do to turn Thanksgiving dinner into a healthy meal? The secret is likely there on your table, hidden in the side dishes. By reconsidering how we prepare them, we can change the Thanksgiving health equation.

Refocus on plants

Phytochemicals (plant nutrients) called carotenoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and are found mostly in fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids make up a family of more than 600 different substances, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin (3).

Carotenoids help to prevent and potentially reverse diseases, such as breast cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), age-related macular degeneration, and cardiovascular disease — heart disease and stroke. Foods that contain these substances are dark green leafy vegetables, as well as orange, yellow and red vegetables and fruits.

Focus on healthy eating

Despite the knowledge that healthy eating has long-term positive effects, there are obstacles to healthy eating. Two critical factors are presentation and perception.

Vegetables are often prepared in either an unappetizing way — steamed to the point of no return — or smothered in cheese and butter, negating their benefits, but clearing our consciences. Fruits are buttered and sugared beyond recognition or used as a garnish on more decadent dishes.

Plant-based foods like whole grains, leafy greens and fruits are relegated to side dishes or afterthoughts. 

Here are some suggestions to get you thinking about ways to shift the heavy holiday meal paradigm:

Make healthy, plant-based dishes part of the main course. You don’t have to forgo signature dishes, but supplement tradition by adding mouthwatering vegetable-based dishes. One of my favorites is steamed “sweet” vegetables — cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas, onions and garlic. To make it sweet, I sauté it in a splash of citrus-infused balsamic vinegar and add sliced apples. If you want to make this a primary dish, add diced tofu and/or garbanzo beans to make it more filling without overwhelming its delicate sweetness.

Improve vegetable choices. Why would you serve vegetables without any seasoning? In my family, we season vegetables and make sauces to drizzle over them. Personally, I’m a fan of infused vinegars. Each adds a different flavor to the vegetables. 

My 16-year-old nephew, who has never liked cooked vegetables, fell in love with my wife’s roasted Brussels sprouts and broccoli while on vacation last summer. He actually texted her a week later to ask for the recipes. Now, he makes them for himself. Good resources for appealing dishes can be found at PCRM.org, mouthwateringvegan.com, and many other resources.

Replace refined grains. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that replacing wheat or refined grains with whole wheat and whole grains significantly reduced central fat, or fat around the belly (4). Not only did participants lose subcutaneous fat found just below the skin, but also visceral adipose tissue, the fat that lines organs and causes chronic diseases such as cancer. 

For even better results, consider substituting riced cauliflower or mashed cauliflower for rice or potatoes. You can purchase frozen riced cauliflower in many grocery stores now. Just be sure to get one that’s unsalted. If you prefer mashed, I have a simple recipe for mashed cauliflower here: https://medicalcompassmd.com/post/mashed-cauliflower-recipe-vegan 

Create a healthy environment. Instead of putting out creamy dips, cheese platters and candies as snacks, choose whole grain brown rice crackers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and healthy dips like hummus and salsa. Help people choose wisely.

Offer healthy dessert options. Options might include dairy-free pumpkin pudding and fruit salad. The goal should be to increase your nutrient-dense choices and decrease your empty-calorie foods. 

Instead of making Thanksgiving a holiday of regret, eating foods that cause weight gain, fatigue and that increase your risk for chronic diseases, promote everyone’s health, while maintaining the theme of a traditional festive meal.


(1) N Engl J Med 2000; 342:861-867. (2) www.heart.org. (3) Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2010;50(8):728–760. (4) Am J Clin Nutr 2010 Nov;92(5):1165-71.

Dr. David Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com.

Dr. Chrisy Beneri, below, suggests people leave a window cracked while entertaining such as above. Stock photo above; photo of Dr. Christy Beneri from Stony Brook Medicine

The time between Halloween and Thanksgiving often involves lists.

Dr. Chrisy Beneri. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Thanksgiving hosts make lists of people to invite, food to purchase, reminders of relatives who need to sit as far from each other as possible, and specialty items, like dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free and sugar-free desserts.

This year, people should also consider adding healthcare steps to their holiday preparation, particularly as new COVID-19 variants and a host of respiratory viruses like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, threaten to put a damper on the holiday festivities or the days immediately after family gatherings.

Even as new COVID variants circulate in the area, cases of the flu have recently been climbing throughout the county, state and country.

As of the week ending Oct. 29, which is the most recent week for which the state and country produced data, Suffolk County reported 255 confirmed cases of the flu, which is up 86% from the previous week, according to the New York State Department of Health. Statewide, the number of cases reached 3,476 for the same week.

Dr. Christy Beneri, program director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, suggests that the “ideal time is now” to get COVID and flu vaccines. “It generally takes about two weeks for the immune system to show a response to the vaccine to provide protection,” which means that the clock is ticking to prepare immune systems for visits with friends and relatives who might be bringing unwitting viral passengers with them to the dinner table.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get a bivalent booster — the version from Pfizer/ BioNTech or Moderna that includes protection against some of the newer omicron variants — if it has been at least two months since their last COVID-19 vaccine or since their original booster.

Beneri urges residents to get both COVID and flu vaccines, which people can receive at the same time.

The effects of these combined shots may have increased side effects of flu-like illnesses, like fever, aches and fatigue, which generally lasts for about a day.

The CDC reported that observational studies show greater disease severity in patients with influenza and COVID than in patients with COVID alone. 

As for ways to protect guests in people’s homes, Beneri explained in an email that no specific house filters are effective at reducing the spread of disease.

“Good air flow is important,” she wrote. “Leaving some windows cracked and telling guests to wear an extra layer” could reduce the risk of spreading viruses.

Beneri added that area medical facilities have seen patients with more than one respiratory virus.

“Having multiple viruses can lead to more severe disease and thus [the] need for hospitalization for supportive care,” Beneri added.

Treatment options currently exist for COVID and influenza, which is not the case for other respiratory illnesses. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines suggested that there are no significant drug-drug interactions between the antiviral agents used to treat the flu and antivirals used to prevent or treat COVID.

While vaccinations may not completely prevent disease, they can help reduce severe disease and hospitalization, which is “especially important with the increase in other respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus,” she explained in an email.

Boosting immunity

In general, people can enhance their health by eating well, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep, Beneri said.

She also generally recommends a multivitamin.

The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel indicates that there is not enough evidence to support the use of additional supplements, such as Vitamin C, D or zinc in patients with COVID.

Beneri advised residents to review any supplement use with their doctors to avoid drug interactions and possible side effects.

At this point, the bivalent vaccine has improved effectiveness for the omicron strain based on the immune response, Beneri explained.

More data, however, is expected on the vaccine efficacy in the short and longer term with the new bivalent boosters, Beneri said.

Additionally, more data should be forthcoming on treatment options, which will also be important with anticipated new waves over the holidays and new variants emerging, she added.

Combined vaccine

Recently, Pfizer/ BioNTech said it was in phase one trials for a single vaccine that would provide immune protection against COVID and the flu.

Local doctors urged patience as the pharmaceutical company and the Food and Drug Administration review the results from these trials.

“Although there may be benefits with combination vaccines from a compliance perspective, we need to weigh that against the risk of safety and efficacy,” Dr. Sunil Dhuper, chief medical officer at Port Jefferson’s St. Charles Hospital, explained in an email.

The medical community needs to ensure that the combination is neither less immunogenic nor less effective than the singular vaccines on their own, he added.

“Safety and tolerability are other important concerns with combination vaccines,” Dhuper explained. He hopes the clinical trials will answer a host of questions related to immune response, efficacy, and reactogenicity, which refers to injection site pain, redness, swelling, fever headaches and other responses to the vaccination.

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Is it really about the turkey? I don’t think so. Personally, I think the turkey is just an excuse for the myriad side dishes that crowd the Thanksgiving plate. And whatever they are, it’s not Thanksgiving without them. Each cook prepares his or her specialty, and each guest arrives, stepping gingerly up the walk and carrying a foil-covered dish. Aunt Somebody always does the Brussels sprouts, Cousin Somebody has to bring the cranberry sauce, Uncle Somebody has whipped up his irresistible mashed potatoes and Somebody’s mother-in-law always presents her “famous” sweet potato creation with the usual flourish, fanfare and self-congratulatory prelude. They all think their recipes are classified information and inimitable, but I’ve pretty much figured them out so here they are.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pint Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half, top to bottom

1/4 cup olive oil

6 peeled garlic cloves

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat, then place sprouts cut side down in oil; add garlic and salt and pepper. Cook until sprouts start to brown on bottom; transfer them in the pan to oven; roast until they are evenly brown, about 15 to 20 minutes; toss with balsamic vinegar and serve hot or warm with turkey and all the trimmings.

Drunken Cranberry Sauce

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 large tart apple, peeled and diced

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange liqueur

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup bourbon

Grated zest of one orange

Grated zest of one lemon


In a large saucepan combine the cranberries, apple, sugar, orange liqueur, water and cinnamon; bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer until the berries start to pop.  Remove from heat, stir in bourbon and zests; cover and refrigerate. Serve with turkey and all the trimmings.

Golden Mashed Potatoes

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings



3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1 whole onion, peeled

1 stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk

Pinch of freshly ground white pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add potatoes and onion and cook over medium-high heat until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, then return potatoes to pot without any of the water; discard onion or refrigerate and save for another use. Meanwhile in a small saucepan heat 6 tablespoons butter and milk together until butter melts and milk is hot but not boiling. Go back to potatoes and toss them around in pot over low heat for a minute or so; transfer them to mixer bowl and mash them on low speed; add the hot milk and butter gradually, then the white pepper, and increase mixer speed to medium. When fully combined and creamy, transfer to warmed serving bowl, top with dots of remaining butter and, as soon as it’s melted from the heat of the potatoes, serve with turkey and trimmings.

‘Famous’ Sweet Potatoes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Make a series of 1/8” slices cross-wise, slicing only 2/3 of the way down on the potatoes, so the bottoms of the slices are still attached. Place potatoes, evenly spaced, on foil-lined pan. In a small bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, orange juice, orange zest, salt and pepper. With a pastry brush, coat tops of potatoes and let mixture dribble down in between slices. Bake until insides are tender and outsides are crispy, about 45 to 50 minutes. Midway through cooking time, run a fork gently along tops to fan out slices; when potatoes are almost done,  sprinkle nuts over tops and in between slices. Serve hot with turkey and trimmings.

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Thanksgiving. The leaves are changing colors and will soon fall to the ground once again covering the earth. As we prepare for this most important American celebration, we have so much to be thankful for.

This brutal pandemic seems to be coming to an end; leaving us with so much death, so much sickness and suffering, but also a powerful reminder that life is fragile and sacred and that we as a people and as a nation are resilient.

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful, to give thanks for our many blessings. It should not be a noun but an action word. In other words, it’s not enough to just say we’re grateful, we need to show our gratitude by our actions.

If we ever needed to come together as a people, it is now. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity for us to build bridges and not walls; for creating a new narrative that is focused on healing and not hatred. It is a time for celebrating our strengths, not harping on our weaknesses.

It is a time to end the vulgar discourse that is infecting and polarizing our political landscape. It is reprehensible when an elected member of Congress stands in that sacred chamber without a mask that metaphorically gives the finger to the elected President of the United States! What has happened to our elected leadership? Have they lost their moral compass and their commitment to lead by example? What are we teaching our children about respect for the dignity of all people, no matter what their political affiliation?

Thanksgiving can be a time for new beginnings. Let us leave all the hatred and venom behind and focus on all the goodness that makes America great today! Professional football player Tom Brady, after a big win, took the time to shake hands with a little nine-year-old boy who is a cancer survivor. What about local students from a youth fellowship who bake cookies on a regular basis and bring them to a local homeless shelter, or the recovering heroin addict who became a social worker and wrote a book about hope and transformation?

Every day there are big and small miracles that are transforming our world. We need to slow down enough in the midst of all of this chaos and take off the blinders.

This Thanksgiving, as you gather with your family and loved ones to give thanks, set an extra plate at your table for that person in our community who might not have a table to sit at. Be grateful this Thanksgiving and remember “it’s not the breaths you take, it’s how you breathe!” (Augie Nieto).

Happy Thanksgiving. I am forever grateful that I live and work among you!

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.