Meaningful Holiday Traditions

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to quote the greatly missed fred rogers, "we've got a lot to talk about." like the still-glowing-through-mid-january park avenue memorial trees, the city's most meaningful holiday tradition. after sundown, you just must experience this reverently beautiful scene. again, because so many still don't know, these trees honor all who made (and are sadly still making) the ultimate sacrifice in this nation's wars. lest we forget, this sacred tradition was begun by several city mothers who lost their beloved sons in world war ii.

the annual christmas photo card from the maloney family shows congresswoman carolyn and daughters christina and virginia standing in front of a large fir tree. thankfully, my son todd turned the card over to learn that, "this tree located on park avenue in front of brick presbyterian church of new york was donated in memory of clifton h.w. maloney." you may remember how this cherished husband and father, seemingly in excellent health, died suddenly last october after summiting a mountain in india. it was so shockingly unexpected and achingly premature, as my column then noted. boys and men are so vulnerable in myriad unaddressed ways, which carolyn and her daughters will be sure now to explore.

may they revive the internationally renowned boys choir of harlem, which was shut down after three decades. the new york times noted its "quiet end," and that the experience lifted countless young choir members out of "most difficult new york neighborhoods." but, reports the daily news, there's an alarming rise of "difficult neighborhoods" in inner cities everywhere.

this choir should surely not go quietly; indeed it should be many times multiplied, with president obama being the most ardent supporter. as should all faith groups and medicine, what with health care now such a dominant issue. but again, the music prescription, like the park avenue trees, is so woefully "under known."

and so is music, for those whose minds are failing; i so regret missing the alzheimer's association forum on music therapy last month. incidentally, having forgotten several events, a well-meaning friend said medication might help. two neurologists suggested that human "reminders" are more likely what's needed.

and how the city needs loud and persistent reminders to really crack down on inadequate snow shoveling (especially at crosswalk entrances and bus stops), which leave thousands homebound. when contacted, aides from borough president scott stringer and council member jessica lappin said, "we're really working on it." please, all of you remind our electeds and the media, which only show "fun in the snow" photos. no accidentally falling down pictures or saying how fortunate it is that pope benedict wasn't injured when knocked down by a woman assailant-or how critical for an 87-year-old french cardinal there to have suffered a broken hip.

attention must be paid to societal sins of omission, even the well-meaning personal kind; a christmas card verse that marks the holidays as a time to remember those we love most forgets the everyday times, when we get so busy. true, but what these "busy folks" need most is to get their priorities straight-find a much needed balance for everyone's year-round over-all health care maintenance.

related is the lead piece in the times' dec. 27 real estate section, "when mom is just floors away." about how not only "mom" (often a grandmother) but other kindred are more and more having separate apartments in the same building, and the benefits derived from such natural support systems. mostly stressed was the under-age child benefit, but the elder and other kindred benefits were also noted. i must write an approving letter because likely nobody else will. help!


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