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June 13, 2014

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 13, 2014 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore A Letter to My Father by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz Dear Daddy, Happy Father's Day! I love you so much, and I hope I always show you how much I appreciate you, on this holiday and every other day of the year. Daddy, I really enjoyed gar- dening with you last week. Even if we were just doing something as simple as pull- ing up dry weeds and unclog- ging the electric plow, it felt so nice to be spending time together in the spring sun- shine. It made me miss the days when I was just a little girl and would help you dig in the dirt so you could plant tomatoes and herbs and zucchini. I remember how you pointed out all the worms and bugs that crawled among the plants and taught me how essential they were to ensuring that our crops grew beautifully and healthily. I remembei- how you guided me to make sure that I was watering the plants just enough. I remember the bundles of lavender you brought home to Mom, and how they would make the kitchen smell like sweet soap. You had so much patience with me, Daddy, and so much enthusiasm about the natural world that it continues to inspire me, even today. In fact, I think our time in the garden is a metaphor for how you helped me blossom into the young woman I now am: just like the plants that grow in our backyard, you gave me both roots and petals. These proverbial roots come from the fact that you always placed emphasis on our family's traditions and heritage. Whenever I hear the silly songs on the Italian channel playing from our living room, I have to smile -- your love for this channel was a constant part of my childhood, an unyieiding reminder of the music and language and customs of my ancestors. That is why I still sit down with you to watch Italian game shows, Daddy. You would take me to the North End on balmy summer days, where we would eat pizza and gelato together, and where I would always watch you buy copies of Italian newspapers. You made sure that our Christ- mases were filled with boxes of panettone and our Easters with large chocolate eggs, holiday traditions that connected me to the wider world of my heritage, and taught me the symbolic meaning hidden behind every custom. When I finally visited Sulmona, and stood in the cobbled medieval streets and among the thick deep-green moun- tains, I could practically see your past youthful self, brimming with the experi- ences and stories you would one day pass on to me. Daddy, thank you for filling me with a sense of pride in my ethnicity, and for keep- ing old traditions alive in our home -- no easy task in this modernized world. Your love for Italian culture inspired me to write this column and gave me a renewed confi- dence as an Italian-Ameri- can woman. You also provided me with petals, or independence. Just like petals eventually become detached from flowers and fly in the breeze, you implemented me with skills to survive in the world, always striving to be a better person. I have the ability to see the humor in almost anything because of the way your booming laugh always rings out at home, whether you are watching a funny television show or listening to one of Dan's crazy stories. Similarly, your optimism is infectious, and I cannot be sad around you even for a second, Daddy. You would take us out for family trips in the rain, sing Ital- ian songs in the car, help me navigate a math problem and comically run sideways across parking lots. How can anyone not smile around you? Daddy, I hope that I can have that same influ- ence on others one day, for you taught me that optimism is a precious jewel, a secret weapon that can turn any dismal day as bright as a rainbow. Finally, Daddy, you have determination like no other person I know. No mat- ter how difficult a situation you are facing, you do so with bravery and a fighter's spirit. Sometimes, when things get me down -- little, insignificant things like a burned meal or a flippant student -- I think about your courage, and it puts my life in perspective. Laughter, optimism and bravery are traits that I always attempt to imbue into my daily life, and this desire all stems from you. Daddy, you are my inspiration and my hero. Daddy, I know that this let- ter can never sufficiently thank you for all the lessons you've taught me and all the sacrifices you made for me. I just hope that it gives you an idea of just how much you mean to me, and how much you continue to in- spire me. I will always be your gardener. Happy Father's Day! And remember -- ti voglio molto bene. Love always, Ally Note: Happy Father's Day to my awesome dad, Rocco Di Censo, and all the great fathers out there! Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She appreciates any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folklore at adicenso89@gmaiL com. by Sal Giarratani Do We Have a Rogue President in the White House? After the recent deal of trading off five jihadists locked up at Gitmo for a sus- pected U.S. Army deserter many are very concerned over what is going on in America these days. Long- time and quite respected national syndicated colum- nist George Will wondered aloud in a recent commen- tary that President Obama seems to be acting like a rogue president. Making secret agreements with the Taliban to release five of its leaders for one U.S. Army sergeant they had. The blowback over this trade came in several directions. Why would the President even make such a deal? Why would he give the Taliban legitimacy? Why would he break a law that he signed with Congress in which he was to notify Capi- tol Hill first? Many ques- tions and terrible answers returning to them. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is livid over what the President did. Does our President do things or see things the way every other president before him did? Including even Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. Say what you wish about those two ex-presi- dents, but I always believed they did what they thought was in the best interest of the nation. Didn't always agree with them but never questioned their motives. Today we have a president unlike any other. Did he actually think we the people would like his actions? If he did, he is even further out of the loop than I gave him credit for. Doesn't he care about the war on terror? Does he view terrorists as the enemies of civilization? Some further to my right think he just wants to empty out Gitmo before he leaves office. However, even his liberal apologists seem at a loss to explain the unexplainable. To date, our President keeps surviving one outra- geous action after another but can he explain cutting a deal with the Taliban by himself? Our country is going down the tube. We are losing any moral authority we still had left. We have become a global laughingstock. The American Era that began following the end of WWII appears to be nearing its end. Once we lose it, it will be gone forever like the Greeks, Romans and British before us. When we think it is okay to trade evil for bad, where does that leave America? I consider myself a pol- itical moderate and still remain a registered Demo- crat but I am at a loss to explain anything out of our Nation's Capital lately. George Will may be on to something here. Mayor's Garden Contest Deadline July 11 Boston's neighborhoods. Gardeners or those nomi- nating their favorite garden- ers may find nomination forms at www.cityofboston. gov / parks / gardencontest. First place winners will receive the coveted ,Golden Trowel" award from Mayor Walsh and prize packages Mayor Martin J. Walsh reminds Boston's green thumbs that they have until Friday, July IIth, to register for the contest. The contest recognizes gardeners who have land- scaped, planted flowers, trees, and shrubs, and, in the process, helped beautify Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post-Gazette Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO * HOMEOWNERS * TENANTS COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building from the Parks Department, Mahoney's Garden Centers of Brighton, and other spon- sors at an awards ceremony in August. All finalists in this year's Garden Contest will be entered into a drawing for 89 END a JetBlue Grand Prize con- sisting of roundtrip flights for four to any nonstop des-[ RINTIN9 ~-~ tination from Boston. Terms, conditions, and blackout dates apply. 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