THIS year’s holiday season has arrived in a rush.

The brightly decorated store windows, the invitations to holiday parties, our reunions with far-flung family members and the performances of seasonal favorites, in spots ranging from Radio City Music Hall to neighborhood houses of worship — they all remind us that this really is a special time of year.

Before we plunge into the next round of celebrations, let’s take a moment to remember that this is also a season to count our blessings, to show gratitude for all we receive from others, and to extend ourselves to those who need us now.

In that spirit, let’s not forget how fortunate our city is in so many ways.

Crime is down 35 percent from nine years ago, and we’re safer from fire and traffic fatalities than we’ve been in modern memory.

On average, we’re living longer and healthier lives than ever, too.

Despite the economic hardships too many New Yorkers still face, our city has weathered the national recession better than most other parts of the U.S. — so far this year we’ve produced new jobs at more than twice the national rate.

The progress made by students in our public schools keeps outpacing that of their classmates across the state.

And the accelerating reconstruction at the World Trade Center site continues to rise into the skyline and rally our spirits.

Many hands combine to make such good things happen.

And in particular, we should thank, now and all year long, the city’s police officers, firefighters and correction officers; the teachers and principals in our public schools; the nurses and doctors in our public hospitals; the sanitation workers who clean our streets; and all those whose hard work and dedication allow the rest of us to enjoy everything this great city has to offer.

Recently, I also had the chance to express the city’s appreciation to someone else whose service has gone far beyond the call of duty: Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, who visited New York after receiving the nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, from President Barack Obama for his combat heroism in Afghanistan.

We owe him and all those who wear our nation’s uniform more than we can ever say.

And one good way that we can show our gratitude to those who do so much for us is by being of service to others ourselves.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll have the chance to drop off coats at police stations and contribute canned food at police stations and firehouses; they’re annual collection drives for our neighbors that are as much a part of the holidays in New York as the Thanksgiving Day Parade and lighting the tree at Rockefeller Center.

And if you call 311 or visit the NYC Service web page at, you can find out how to volunteer your time, too.

As the holidays remind us: giving to others is where life’s greatest rewards truly lie.

The best of the season to all New Yorkers.

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