Tags Posts tagged with "2017 holiday season"

2017 holiday season

The community came together in Port Jefferson Village over the weekend to embody a famous quote from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Dec. 2 and 3 marked the 22nd annual Charles Dickens Festival in Port Jeff, an event that brings out locals and visitors to take part in a weekend full of events, activities, performances and parades. Attendees were treated to ice skating, cookie decorating, a display of decorated Christmas trees with various themes, street performances by actors portraying people from the Dickens era, horse-drawn carriage rides, toasted marshmallows, Christmas carols and much more.

Every year the organizers of the event select honorees and dedicate the festival in their name. This year, George and Karen Overin, two long-time Dickens Festival participants and volunteers, were recognized.

“Perhaps there are no two people that better represent the joy, the feeling of family, and, indeed, the magic of this cherished weekend that has captured the imagination of people from around the globe,” the dedication to the honorees read in part.

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Thanksgiving Day has passed but the thankfulness lingers on. It’s a wonderful feeling, to be appreciative and to give thanks for the richness of life. I understand that there are even clinical studies showing that such feelings promote health. So on such a crusade, here’s what I suggest we can all be thankful for at this time.

For starters, let’s consider the weather. Amid the chaotic political climate, our weather has been serene right up to the end of November. When my family visited, we could walk the beach, stroll on the roads, play touch football — they did, not me — and just bask on the front porch in the sun. It was so warm, we could have been in Florida. And there was nary a raindrop in sight.

The warm temperatures have delayed the falling leaves, and many trees and bushes still offer bursts of glorious color. Even a drive on Northern State Parkway in traffic can actually be a pleasure, at least aesthetically. We know that the trees will soon be bare so this late autumnal show is particularly to be appreciated. The birds are still in fine chorus, the rabbits are bopping around in plain sight and the squirrels are playing between tree limbs even as they are busy gathering their acorns.

The satisfactions that come along with a visit from one’s family are grand. Despite any high-spirited political discussions, the sight and success stories of children and grandchildren fill one’s heart. My four grandchildren are at an age now when mighty accomplishments seem within reach and future possibilities appear limitless. Two are in college, each pursuing their respective dream of filmmaking and music composition; the third is visiting colleges between her volleyball tournaments; and the youngest is a star baseball player in high school, which is exactly where he wants to be on his hoped-for career in the majors. They are not frivolous in going about realizing their goals. They understand that academic excellence is required, and they work tirelessly at that task. During their visit, they could be found doing physics homework, prepping for the SATs and, to my great delight, practicing on their musical instruments. They, and we, have reached the stage where their music soars, even during practice. Gone are the squeaks and sour notes of yesteryear.

My children and their spouses are doing what they want to be doing and finding satisfaction in their particular successes, which gives me untold pleasure. They have also reached the stage in their parenting where they can appreciate their own parents. Three of my grandchildren are still teenagers, and I know of no harder job than the raising of teens. My children can look back now and sometimes marvel at how their parents handled those years. They might even ask for a bit of advice. That, of course, gives us grandparents further pleasure because our children have now become our friends. And for our part, we can ask their advice in turn. It’s a wonderful stage of life for us oldies. We can enjoy the capital gains of our investments in our children and the dividends with our grandchildren.

Ultimately what is it that really makes us thankful? I don’t know anyone who gives thanks for their Mercedes or diamond tiara, much as it may be fun to have those symbols of accomplishment. To be really thankful is to have what will outlive us — those we love.

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The fictions start when we’re young.

Santa Claus is coming to town. Oh yeah? Well, hopefully he isn’t traveling on the New York area transit system, which seems to be making two types of stops these days: late and later.

Certainly, young children can and should revel in the stories that animate this time of year, when cold and snow usually replace warm and bright weather.

And yet it might be a good time to reflect on the myths of our youth, just to compare them to our realities. Let’s start:

• Everyone gets what they deserve or what’s coming to them. Hmm, does it seem fair or merit based that some of the finest teachers in the country, who serve as an inspiration to children year after year, earn barely enough to afford modest cars that warm up just as they arrive at school? Compare this iniquity with athletes who spit at each other, curse at their coaches, fight on the field and charge people for autographs, yet are earning exorbitant salaries to play children’s games.

• It’s the beauty on the inside that counts. That sounds nice and, in some cases, it actually plays out that way, as people cherish the character, spirit and energy of the person they meet, rather than dwelling on how much they fit the modern ideal for a man or woman. And yet for every magazine cover with a regular-looking bloke or woman, there are 10 or more who look like lithe or buff caricatures of real people.

• Slow and steady wins the race. Yeah, maybe for turtles and rabbits, but everyone is racing to win, win, win at all costs. Sure, patience and gradual steps toward a goal make sense, but a capitalist society is driven by those who are the first movers, who make the unexpected discoveries and who patent their method, idea or product first.

• Winning isn’t everything. Oh, no? It sure does seem like cause for enormous celebrations. The Winter Olympics are coming up in February. Will we revel in the effort the athletes took to get there, will we celebrate the man or woman who finishes fourth, and will we congratulate the athlete who didn’t make it to the medal round? Maybe, but then again aren’t we more likely to remember the names and achievements of those who finished first or, gulp, second?

• Be who you are. That sounds lovely, but doesn’t that depend on what state you’re in? In some states, if who you are involves altering gender expectations, that might be problematic. Yes, we are all urged to celebrate ourselves and our identity, but others don’t necessarily join the party if they feel threatened by those we embrace.

• Truth, justice and the American way. No, I’m not referring to Superman here, although those are the words from the famous comic book hero. Listening to people fight about the direction of the country suggests that the American way isn’t what it used to be. Ask President Trump, who is so fond of deriding what he describes as “fake news.” We as a nation can’t agree on truths anymore, because we have become so adept at fighting the appearance of disagreeable facts.

• Happily ever after. This catchphrase depends on whom you ask, but seems to involve riding off cheerily into some sunset aboard a horse-drawn carriage. Years like 2017 can present bumps in the road, the way acne suddenly appears on the face of a developing teenager. That doesn’t mean life won’t involve a “happily ever after.” Maybe we should revise the homily to suggest that it will likely require work, in which the payoff, down the road, is worth the challenges.