Holidays

Photo by Maryann Zakshevsky

Surprise your Valentine with a romantic dinner at an elegant mansion where luminaries from the 1920s and ’30s dined with members of one of America’s most famous and powerful families. 

On Saturday, Feb. 8, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport hosts its annual Valentine Dinner at Eagle’s Nest, the historic waterfront estate of Rosamond and William K. Vanderbilt II, one of the most glamorous and romantic settings on Long Island.

The estate and its beautiful, early 20th-century Spanish Revival mansion are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The estate is the home of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum.

 This popular event offers limited seatings of 50 at 6 and 8 p.m.

The evening begins with hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer in the Memorial Wing of the mansion. After a brief tour of the living quarters, dinner will be served in the Northport Porch. Dessert and coffee will follow in the Lancaster Room and Moroccan Court, adjacent to the Vanderbilt Library. 

Choice of entrees include prime rib, chicken with Madeira sauce, stuffed sole with spinach and feta in a tomato dill sauce and heart-shaped cheese ravioli with vodka sauce.

The evening is a rare opportunity to enjoy an intimate dining experience with a spouse, partner or special friend and to celebrate in Gold Coast style. Seating at this exclusive event is very limited and sells out quickly. Tickets are $150 per person, $135 members. Reservations are online only at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Proceeds from this special evening will benefit STEAM education programs. For more information, call 631-854-5579.

 

 

 

 

Teens from The Chai Center’s CTeen chapter in Dix Hills (CTEEN West Suffolk County) spent the holiday season giving back by collecting toys and wrapping them to be donated to children facing serious medical issues through the organization Chai Lifeline.

 CTeen, the fastest growing Jewish teen network in the world, inspires and facilitates teens who want to give back to their community and environment. Chai Lifeline is a preeminent international health support network for seriously ill children, their families, and communities

Photos from The Chai Center

 

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By Beverly C. Tyler

The first Christmas card was designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole of England, later Sir Henry Cole. Cole was the organizer and first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London The card was printed in London by a method called lithography and was hand colored by a professional “colourer” named Mason. It was sent in 1843.

It was the custom at the time to send letters to relatives and friends at Christmas. Cole’s cards were to take the place of the letters that he would have to write to his large number of friends and family. A total of about 1,000 of these cards were printed.

Christmas cards were becoming popular in the United States by the 1870s, and by the 1880s they were being printed in the millions, and were no longer being hand colored. Christmas cards during the late 1800s came in all shapes and sizes and were made with silk, satin, brocade and plush, as well as with lace and embroidery surrounding the printed card. These cards were just as varied as those we have today and included religious themes, landscapes from every season, animals, the traditional Father Christmas, children and humor. The cards were very colorful and usually included some verse in addition to the greeting. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, humor was a favorite theme for postcards and Christmas postcards were no exception.

A modern take on a Christmas card poem:

GOD’S PROCLAIMING STAR

Three wise men from the east came following

God’s proclaiming star

It led unerring to the presence of our Lord

God’s proclaiming star

It brought God’s message of peace on earth

God’s proclaiming star

and showed the world God’s promise

God’s proclaiming star

that through God’s son our sins are forgiven

God’s proclaiming star

and introduced us to God’s first GPS

God’s proclaiming star

Poem by Beverly Tyler

Christmas cards were eventually sent through the mail as postcards. The lower price of postage — one cent for a postcard — was one of the reasons for the popularity of the postcard-greeting card. The postcard was most popular during the years between 1895 and 1914, when the craze for collecting cards was at its height. The beginning of the use of postcards probably goes back to the influence of the trade card, used to promote business and trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the visiting card, which included the sender’s name prominently added to the card, and was used to send a greeting.

By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the collecting of picture postcards was the most popular hobby in the world. In the United States there were more than a half a million postcards mailed each year leading up to World War I. Many of these cards were postmarked at both the senders and the recipients post office. One postcard was postmarked Dec. 23, 1907, at 6 p.m. in Putnam, New York, and in East Setauket Dec. 24 (no time listed).

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.

 

 

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

The Town of Brookhaven’s annual Holiday Light Spectacular at the Holtsville Ecology Site attracted thousands of visitors on opening weekend, Dec. 7 and 8. 

Visitors walked through the winter wonderland of lighted, festive displays before stopping to take their photos with Santa in his workshop. The show returns on Dec. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22. Hours on Fridays and Saturdays are 5 to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 5 to 8 p.m.

“This is a fun-filled, affordable entertainment option for families who want to come and enjoy the spirit of the holidays,” said Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro. “I want to thank my staff at the Ecology Site for working so diligently to transform the greenhouses and make this event so memorable. Over the years, walking through the Holiday Spectacular has become a wonderful holiday tradition for many families.”

Admission to this event is $6 per person; children 3 and under are free. Discounted tickets are currently available for pre-purchase online at www.Brookhavenny.gov/holiday. Photos with Santa are available for an additional fee. Proceeds benefit the Holtsville Ecology Site and go directly to the feed and care of the more than 100 animals residing there.

The Holtsville Ecology Site is located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville. For more information, call 631-758-9664. Photo from TOB

Above, from left, Sara Freitas, Monica Consalvo and Marlo Pepe;

MAKING THE SEASON BRIGHT

Port Jefferson Middle School students Marlo Pepe, Sara Freitas and Isabelle Chen had the opportunity to read their original poetry during the lantern dedications and opening ceremonies for Port Jefferson Village’s 24th annual Charles Dickens Festival last weekend. 

Middle School teacher Monica A. Consalvo coordinated the event by having students submit their poetry centered around the themes of community, family and Charles Dickens. This yearly tradition allows students not only to be a part of the community event but also to extend learning beyond the traditional walls of the classroom.

Monica Consalvo with Isabelle Chen

Winter

By Isabelle Chen, Grade 7

Presented at Lantern Dedication

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Where nights are filled with colorful lights

And land filled with white gold and plenty of cold

With a huge tree bringing great glee

With joy and peace where all problems seem to cease

Where children are playing and nothing is dismaying

For snow is here and Santa is near

But this beauty is only in one place, for there will only be such beauty and joy in the one place, we call 

Winter,

Where families are brought together, and love is spread.

 

Snowflakes 

By Sara Freitas Grade 7

December comes a near,

And so shall the reindeer.

The holiday season bringing all the cheer.

Snowflakes fall from up above, 

Coming in all shapes to love.

Bewildered in the coldness, 

Remain the glorious reindeer, 

All covered in snow all so perfectly.

The children admire the first snow.

Laughing and giggling,

The sounds of jingle bells jingling, 

soon filling the air with all the happiness one could possibly imagine.

They head outside,

Smiles brighten on their amazed faces, 

Their cheeks bright red from the cold crisp air.

They flock and prance all around, 

Leaving footsteps in the clean new snow.

They throw snowballs for hours, 

Perfecting each ball with care.

The sun begins to set,

Leaving the children baffled from the new coldness.

They said their farewells,

And each headed home for the evening.

Though they were sad to go home,

They were very happy to greet their beloved families with joy.

 

The Spirit of Christmas

by Marlo Pepe, Grade 7

Presented at Saturday Opening Ceremonies

The exhilarating sleigh ride speeds throughout the bright glistening snow

While the carolers sing until the sparkling stars appear

Bright twinkling Christmas lights dance around the Christmas tree

Sparkling memorable ornaments overlook the brightly wrapped gifts waiting to be opened.

Joyful laughter weaves in and out as the warm fire crackles its message about the gift of family 

Amidst this laughter you can smell the new batch of cookies baking just for Santa

Heavy eyelids announced bedtime has arrived

As the sleepy heads make their way to bed you can hear Santa’s sleigh bells echo throughout the midst of night

Off they go into a dream of presents and Christmas pie

To wake up to silver bells, candy canes and the miracle of Christmas.

 

The Vanderbilt Mansion library is decked out for the holidays.

The holidays have arrived at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport as the halls of the Vanderbilt Mansion are decked in their holiday finery. From the stately library to the dining room to the bedrooms, the grand house is filled with lighted trees, ornaments, wreaths, ribbons, poinsettias, garlands and elegantly wrapped faux gifts. 

These embellishments are the creative work of designers and garden clubs that volunteer their time each year. Their creative touch brings additional charm and magic to the spectacular, 24-room, Spanish Revival house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The garden clubs and decorators have been with us for many years, and this year we welcomed two new designers. Ethan Allen of Huntington created the Enchanted Flight of the Cardinals installation for us in the Memorial Wing lobby, and Felicia Greenberg contributed her magnificent silk floral sculptures. Our visitors will be delighted with the 2019 holiday season decor,” said Stephanie Gress, director of curatorial affairs.

Designers Mary Schlotter (right) and Krishtia McCord decorate the mansion dining room.

Centerport designers Mary Schlotter and her daughter Krishtia McCord – who operate Harbor Homestead & Co. – brought back the festive holiday dresses they created and displayed in the mansion during the past two years. This year, the dresses adorn Rosamond Vanderbilt’s luxurious, mirrored dressing room. The duo also decorated the dining room.

“Our dining room design was inspired by Downton Abbey,” Schlotter said. “The room and furniture are dark, but the window has a beautiful view of Northport Bay and Long Island Sound. We decided to set the table in simple whites and silver – two silver candelabras flanked by compotes arranged with white magnolia, amaryllis, pine cones and magnolia leaves. In the center of the table is a silver pheasant. We folded the napkins in a bishop’s miter form to give the place settings a royal feel. We think [Downtown Abbey butler] Mr. Carson would approve.” 

One sideboard is set for dinner, she said, the other for dessert and spirits.“The sparkling glasses, and the silver and white design touches catch the light and give a sense that Christmas dinner is about to be served.” 

Other participants include the Dix Hills Garden Club, Honey Hills Garden Club, Nathan Hale Garden Club, Asharoken Garden Club, Three Village Garden Club, Centerport Garden Club, volunteers from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Program of Suffolk County, Felicia Greenberg of Table Art and Event Designs and Vanderbilt staff members Killian Taylor and Maryann Zakshevsky.

Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum, said, “We’re grateful each year to these creative and generous volunteers who use their creative skills to bring enchanting holiday grandeur to this grand house.”

Visitors can see the captivating results from now through Dec. 30 by tour on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday (and Thursday to Monday, Dec. 26 to 30) at regular intervals between 11:15 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Photos courtesy of the Vanderbilt Museum

The Smithtown Historical Society’s annual community wreath contest drew 17 contenders. Each wreath, made with care and donated by a community member, hung in the Frank Brush Barn for its annual Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 6 and at its Heritage Country Christmas fair on Dec. 7. Wreath winners were drawn at the end of the Christmas fair. Best in Show was awarded to Marti McMahon for her festive pointsettia wreath, second place was handed to Marie Gruick for her adorable snowman wreath and third place went to Sandy Bond for her beautiful pinecone creation. Congratulations to all the winners!

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Top, William, Charles and Marie Reed at the harbormaster building in Port Jeff. Below, William and other volunteers make sure the trains run smoothly. Photos by Kyle Barr

As the Dickens Festival filled in the chilly outdoor air with 19th-century charm, the harbormaster building itself piped into the village a different kind of old-time allure, that of locomotives and steam engines. More than 20 miniature trains ran in inexhaustible loops, little jets of steam puffing from their chimneys. Boy Scouts of Troop 354 hovered over the tracks, along with Charles, Marie and William Reed of Port Jefferson Station. 

Charles, the father, owns the trains and knows how to put all the complicated parts and tracks together. William, who makes the words “train enthusiast” seem an understatement, knew each of the models and could do “train talk” with something of a dizzying speed. Ask the youngest Reed, who’s an Eagle Scout with Troop 354, about trains and he’ll tell you about trains in far-off places.

“Korean railways is the national railway they have there, some of their high-speed trains are French derived, based on the French models like the KCX1 and 2,” he said.

The young man dashed around and between the tables, adding liquid to the trains’ stacks and helping his father fix the tracks.

The Reed family has been chugging along for the last several weeks setting up the train display, although in earnest the family spent several months beforehand gathering all the materials it needs to have on hand. Setting up the public display has meant several long nights, carting box after box of train collections, laying it out and making sure each is in operating order. The family asks for donations at the door, where on average around $1,400 is raised for Toys for Tots.

“We don’t need them in the boxes, that’s why we can take them out and share them,” Marie, the mother, said.

In previous years, another man used to set up trains during the Dickens Festival. After he moved away, the Reed family stepped in. Marie said that, while he would have a score of volunteers, the Reed family only has themselves and a few people from the Scout troop.

Charles said that each year since they started, six years ago, they have added more tables. At first, they had six tables with 10 trains. Today they set up 10 tables with 20 trains. 

“It’s crazy, but it comes together eventually,” the father said.

The amount of effort the family puts into it was recently acknowledged by Mayor Margot Garant at a Port Jefferson village meeting in November. 

By Heidi Sutton

The holidays have arrived at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts in a most delightful way. While a spunky orphan commands the spotlight in the theater’s current main stage production of Annie, a spirited young girl named Emily stars in the second annual children’s theater production of Ken Ludwig’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. 

Directed by Christine Boehm, the 45-minute fast-paced show with the underlying message “to make life an adventure” is the perfect choice to introduce young children to live theater.

It’s Christmas Eve and Uncle Brierly (Evan Donnellan) greets the audience with a recitation of “the greatest poem of all time,” Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. He gets as far as, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” only to be interrupted by Amos the Mouse (Jae Hughes) who is in fact stirring, cookie dough that is, to make cookies for Santa in hopes that he’ll show up this year. You see, Amos and his best human friend Emily (Lorelai Mucciolo) were left off the Naughty or Nice list last year and never received any presents.

It is then that Calliope the Elf (Lisa Naso) shows up to investigate and, after telling Emily and Amos that many other children around the world had the same thing happen to them, convinces them to accompany her back to the North Pole to tell Santa the troubling news and to save Christmas.

When they arrive at Santa’s workshop, they overhear a former elf, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Donnellan), and his sidekick Mulch (Anthony Panarello), plotting to sell the Naughty and Nice list to retailers just like last year.

What follows is a whirlwind attempt to retrieve the list complete with a surprise appearance from Amos’ brother (the amazing Hughes in a dual role), a hilarious case of mistaken identity, a sword fight, an elf cheer, a visit from Santa Claus (Panarello) and a chase scene through the theater to the Benny Hill theme song. There is no shortage of excitement in this show and the cast does a wonderful job portraying this sweet holiday story.

Booster seats are available and snacks are sold during intermission. Stay after the show for a meet and greet and photos with the cast in the lobby.  

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown presents Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Dec. 15, 22, 28 and 29 at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with Shrek The Musical Jr. from Feb. 1 to March 1 and Flat Stanley Jr. from May 16 to June 21. All seats are $18. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org

All photos by Cassiel Fawcett