I had the good fortune to have lunch with Shai Bazak, the Consul General to New England from Israel last week. After an enjoyable meal with engaging conversation, the Consul General hosted a talk and question & answer period, and delivered on of the more moving and pithy quotes I've heard in some time. In discussing Israel's steadfast and enduring relationship with the United States, Bazak offered his insight into history. "Other nations have become great by taking things away. The United States is the only nation in the history of humankind that has achieved greatness by giving," said the Consul General. The reaction was amazing. The room fell silent, and became draped in a collective blanket of warm reflection and contemplation. The profundity and wisdom of that statement moved me, and gave me pause to put its meaning in perspective - in local perspective. My thoughts immediately focused on the giving and special place that is Falmouth, and our enduring and steadfast commitment as Falmouthites to giving and being true neighbors.
Not long after that poignant and stirring experience, I had the opportunity to share a couple of laughs and thoughts for the day with my good friend and long time Falmouthite Ken Weber. Kenny and I get the chance often to chat about things, as we both commute good distances and take time to catch up. On this day, our conversation turned to the annual Falmouth Thanksgiving dinner, a long-standing tradition, which brings generations of Falmouthites together to prepare, partake, and share a day of thanks and a community repast, free of charge, but replete with payback - of the giving kind.
Kenny, his wife Cheri, and their family have taken over the coordination for this community event from John and Debbie Netto, who for many years, managed this volunteer-a-palooza with amazing organizational skills and a love for community to match. I remember the first of these events, more than a decade ago, when Jay Bartolomei and I hatched the idea and coordinated the first event. I can still see and smell my wrinkled and weary hands (the keyboard is the only workout they typically get), after cutting pounds of onions and peeling potatoes starting at a bleary -eyed 5AM with Chef Roland, while Chef Dave Mutti coordinated crews at the old Knights of Columbus. We laughed, cried (from the onions and the appreciative expressions of grateful neighbors), and somehow, with Roland and Dave's expertise, a whole lot of love, lots of neighbors helping neighbors, and Jay's taxicabs, turned what appeared to be a phantasmagoria of culinary spirits into meals for dozens of Falmouthites on that day.
You know the rest of the story. John and Debbie took the reins of our fledgling tradition, and with even more robust energy and affection, turned it into one of Falmouth's most heartwarming and significant holiday traditions. The baton has now been passed, and Kenny has accepted with the same eagerness that proves the Consul General's theory of greatness - in this case the greatness of our hometown. "This event brings our community together for good," said Ken, when asked what it means to him to carry on a community tradition. "My family and I are grateful for so much, and this is a way for us to give back," he continued. "If you can bring some food or a donation for the Falmouth Service Center, then come. If you can't, then come. If you can volunteer and give back, then come. If you can't, then come and share in a warm meal and sense of community," said Kenny. Greatness through giving, the Consul General said. Falmouth gets that. Kenny, his family, Chef Dave, and a legion of volunteers now take over a great tradition for the benefit of a great and grateful community. I'm sure that our great and grateful community will love and thank them all right back.