Tags Posts tagged with "Holidays"


Photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The holiday season is quickly coming to a close. The Village of Port Jefferson and our larger community are especially beautiful with lights, wreaths and a wide range of holiday decorations. I also feel there is a different energy in the air. There seems to be a more positive spirit this year than in the years past. I actually saw people who didn’t know each other greeting one another and holding the door as they walked into a store. It was really amazing.

There is a part of me that wants to bottle that positive energy and release it when things start to inch back towards the darkness. However, I realize each one of us has the power to keep that positive energy going one person at a time utilizing random acts of kindness and just mutual words of encouragement and welcome.

The world is profoundly paralyzed. Our government and other governments around the world have become disturbingly ineffective and disconnected from the real pulse of the people. No matter what one’s race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, most people just want to get along; to live with mutual respect with one another.

At the end of the last semester at St. Joseph’s University where I have taught for more decades than I want to admit, I asked one of my freshmen that exact question. He paused for a moment and said, “we have to stop judging people by externals, stop judging a book by its cover. We must be more willing to pull the onion skin down to the core.”

His response was amazing. It sounds so simple but in reality, we make it so complicated. If we could only judge less and love more, how much better the world would be. Hopefully, the next generation will have the courage to do exactly that and not get sucked up into all the garbage and nonsense.

For more than a decade now, I’ve had the privilege of teaching graduate student social workers at Fordham’s graduate school of Social Service. I teach clinical practice and a human rights and social justice course. Most of my students are second year, chomping at the bit to graduate. Every week they inspire me to stay my course and strengthen my love for clinical social work and advocacy. Their passion for wanting to make a difference is inspirational. I pray that their positive energy and enthusiasm is not impaired by the crazy world that we live in.

 We need them because they really believe that change is possible. They really want to make a difference in the world and make it a better place. I hope their energy and enthusiasm becomes contagious. It genuinely has energized me to stay the course and to continue “to be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mohandas Gandhi

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

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Poinsettias and their rich red, white or variegated color schemes are the ideal backdrop for Christmas celebrations. In fact, poinsettias are among the most popular decorative flowers during the holiday season.  

Indigenous to Central America, the plant was introduced to North America in the 1820s when Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, brought the red-and-green plant back with him from a trip abroad.

While millions of poinsettias will be purchased for the holiday season, many mistakenly think their utility ends once New Year’s Day has come and gone. But with proper care poinsettia plants can continue to thrive and bring warmth and beauty to a home long after the holiday decorations have been tucked away.

Choose a hearty plant 

Experts with the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science say that many people mistake the plant’s leaves for its flowers. The red, white or pink bracts are actually modified leaves. The flowers of the plant are the yellow clustered buds in the center called “cyathia.” Choose poinsettia plants that have buds which are, ideally, not yet open.

Keep the temperature consistent

Poinsettias prefer a room temperature between 60 and 68 F during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night. Humidity levels between 20 and 50 percent are ideal. Group plants on water-filled trays full of pebbles to help increase humidity levels. 

Place near sunlight 

The United Kingdom-based Perrywood floral company advises placing poinsettia plants near a bright windowsill but not in direct sunlight. Do not let a poinsettia touch cold window panes.

Avoid drafts 

The plants are sensitive to drafts and changes in temperature. So it’s best to keep poinsettias away from drafty doors, windows, radiators, or fireplaces. 

Don’t drown the roots 

Wait until the surface of the compost dries out before watering the plant anew. Also, the decorative foil wrapper that covers pots can trap water and lead to root rot. Remove it or poke holes in the bottom to allow for drainage.

Cut back plants

Come mid-March, cut back the plant by half to encourage new shoots, suggests the University of Illinois Extension. The plants also can be placed outside in the spring after the risk of frost has passed. Bring poinsettias back in around mid-September to early October to force them to bloom again.

Stock photo

Here we are in the midst of the holiday season.

In the Dec. 1 TBR News Media article, “Check in with each other, yourself before approaching holidays, local doctors urge” by Daniel Dunaief, medical professionals stressed the importance of people visiting or calling loved ones and taking note of their moods.

The doctors had additional excellent advice: Check in with yourself during this busy season, too.

The last few weeks may have been overwhelming for many people with preparing the house for company, decorating and ensuring there’s a special gift for everyone.

While stressing about how clean the house is or if it’s decorated enough, sometimes what gets lost in the mayhem is that this is the season when people make more of an effort to gather, to stop for a bit and to catch up. In the grand scheme, our home doesn’t need to look like it’s ready for a photo shoot with Homes & Gardens to spend quality time with our loved ones.

It’s the time of year when we tend to reach out to those who don’t live near us, too. Whether it’s a call, text, letter or card, it is wonderful when we reconnect and take a trip down memory lane.

As for the stress of gift giving, it doesn’t have to get out of control. Following a budget and avoiding charging presents can go a long way regarding our bank balances. In addition to exchanging presents, there are so many ways to show we care. 

People can also share their talents or skills by gifting a picture they painted or a poem they wrote. A loved one may need help painting a room or raking the leaves. Why not offer the gift of time?

Sometimes the gift of time is the most cherished present of all, and many people, especially parents and grandparents, would appreciate some one-on-one time put aside for them, whether it involves a free or inexpensive activity or just talking over hot beverages.

There’s a sacred side of this season, too, that sometimes gets lost in the hustle and bustle. Just sitting and thinking of the miracles represented by Christmas and Hanukkah can bring much-needed stress relief.

This time of year should be about hope and starting fresh in the new year. The holidays are a time for joy and laughter, a moment to celebrate the many blessings in life. Materialism and commercialization of the holidays and competing with our neighbors over holiday displays may create unnecessary pressures for us, perverting the meaning of the season.

Here’s to a relaxing holiday season filled with family and friends, from TBR News Media.

Pexels photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Dr. Matthew Kearns

The winter holidays. Time to enjoy family and friends, eat good food, drink good drink, and celebrate. The holidays also present potential hazards for our pets. Here is a  short list of potential holiday hazards.

Candy and Chocolate Poisoning: First, chocolate contains two chemicals (caffeine and theobromine) which are powerful stimulants. Mild symptoms usually begin within 6-12 hours after ingestion and include panting, hyperactivity, increased thirst and urination. Severe cases include irregular heart rhythms, seizures, coma, and death. There are specific toxic levels for all pets but just like people some dogs and cats can be very sensitive to chocolate and show signs of poisoning from much lesser amounts.  

Second, chocolate is very high in sugar and fat. Minimally, this will give your pet a tummy ache but I have personally seen a few cases of serious gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, liver disease from ingestion of chocolate.

Macadamia Nuts: The exact portion of the nut that is toxic to dogs is unknown at this time but veterinary toxicologists (poison experts) suspect that it has to do with something in the oil. Signs include tremors, seizures, and irregular heart rhythms. Be careful about leaving macadamia nuts or nut mixes with macadamia nuts in them within the reach of your dogs.

Medications: Both prescription and over the counter medications can do great harm to our pets. A single ibuprofen or acetaminophen tablet could be potentially fatal to a small dog or cat and could cause serious illness even in a larger dog.

Poisonous Plants: Winter Lillies, Poinsettas, Mistletoe, Holly, and other seasonal plants can lead to an upset stomach in some cases, but in others can potentially cause irregular heart rhythms, kidney failure, ulcers of the mouth, etc. Best to keep these plants away from your pets or consider not decorating your house with them if you are concerned that your pet may chew or ingest them. 

Hazards Around the Christmas Tree: Christmas tree water can contain fertilizers or other chemicals can make your pet severely ill if ingested. Electric cords, tinsel, ribbons, glass ornaments, etc should either be secured away from curious pets or possibly removed to prevent electrocution, intestinal obstructions, or other internal organ damage.

Alcohol and Old (spoiled) Food: Curious pets will take advantage of a late-night party and get into these items after you go to bed. Make sure to clean up so that you do not have to worry about your pet ingesting leftover cocktails and treats that may have mold or bacteria growing on it.

Yeast Dough: The same yeast that helps the dough to rise can lead to problems in our pets. The yeast itself is potentially poisonous and the dough can continue to rise in the pet’s stomach causing painful and potentially harmful consequences.

If you know of a poisonous exposure or potential poisonous exposure call the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) at (888) 426-4435. This hotline is staffed with experts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday season, as well as a prosperous 2023. I also want to thank Heidi Sutton and all the staff at Times Beacon Record News Media and affiliates for another great year.  

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.

A scene from the 43rd Annual Holiday Festival presented by The Ward Melville Heritage Organization. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Stony Brook Village Center was buzzing with holiday activities on Sunday, Dec. 4. Thousands of residents from the Three Village and surrounding communities attended the 43rd Annual Holiday Festival presented by The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

Santa was on the scene in the afternoon to take children’s requests and pose for photos in front of the Stony Brook Post Office. Attendees also strolled through the shopping center to listen to music, visit the petting zoo in front of Rustic Loft and enjoy a performance from the Roseland School of Dance students.

The holiday celebration featured the Legends & Spies Puppet Parade led by the Ward Melville High School marching band. Handlers marched through the shopping center with giant puppets depicting local famous people, including Culper spies Anna Smith Strong, Caleb Brewster and Benjamin Tallmadge as well as philanthropists Ward and Dorothy Melville.

The night was capped off with a tree lighting on The Village Green with a countdown led by Santa Claus. Following the tree lighting, Santa Claus gave a recap of the gifts children asked for that day at the WMHO Holiday Thank You Party. He said he’s always surprised that among the more modern items requested, children still ask for classic toys such as trucks, and on Sunday, he said 18 boys and girls asked for yo-yos.

He said the funniest encounter of the day was when a girl told him she wanted a toy dog, loud enough so her mother could hear. She then whispered to Santa and said, “I really want a live one, but please don’t tell my mom.”

Heritage Park in Mount Sinai will host a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 4 this year. File photo by Kyle Barr/TBR News Media

By Heidi Sutton

The Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River will hold a Holiday Tree Lighting on Dec. 3.

While a few villages and towns lit their holiday trees last week, the majority of tree lightings on the North Shore will take place this weekend and next weekend with caroling, treats and a special visit from Santa Claus. 

Cold Spring Harbor

The Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor will host a tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. Santa Claus will light the hatchery’s Christmas Tree at 5:30 p.m. Free admission after 5 p.m. Suggested donation of $10 per family. 516- 692-6768.


The Coram Civic Association will present its 13th annual Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting at the Old Coram Firehouse, 303 Middle Country Rd, Coram on Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. with refreshments, crafts, entertainment, and songs by the Coram Elementary School singers, raffles, a visit from Santa and tours of the historic Davis Town Meeting House. 631-736-3168

Flanders – just added

The 34th annual Holiday Lighting of the Big Duck, 1012 Route 24, Flanders will be held on Dec. 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. (rescheduled from Nov. 30) The event features a visit from Quackerjack, the Long Island Ducks baseball team mascot, duck carols led by students from the Riverhead Middle School Show Choir, refreshments and the ever-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus by fire truck. 631-852-3377


The Greenlawn Civic Association hosts a “Meet at the Tree” Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 3 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Harborfields Public Library, 31 Broadway, Greenlawn. Enjoy hot cocoa, cookies, dance performances, a Christmas carol sing-along plus a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus on the Greenlawn Fire Dept. truck. Bring your letters to Santa for the North Pole mailbox. www.greenlawncivic.org.


The Town of Brookhaven’ will hold its annual Christmas Tree Lighting event at the Holtsville Ecology Site, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville on Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. with costumed characters, musical entertainment, and a special appearance by Santa Claus, who will arrive via helicopter, and then assist with the countdown to light the tree. 631-451-9276.

Kings Park

The Kings Park Chamber of Commerce hosts a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Veterans Plaza, King Park on Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. Enjoy holiday music selections followed by invocation and welcome remarks from the chamber with hot chocolate and cookies. Held rain or shine. 631-269-7678

Lake Ronkonkoma

Join the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce at Raynor Park, 174 Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma on Dec. 4 for their annual Christmas Tree Lighting from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Enjoy live entertainment by the Cherokee Street and Nokomis Elementary School Choirs and a visit from Santa. 631-963-2796

Miller Place – just added

— The Miller Place Fire Department and Aliano Real Estate will host the 14th annual Polar Express and Tree Lighting in the Aliano Shopping Center, 691 Route 25A, Miller Place on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. with complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, donuts, soup and pizza; entertainment by Miller Place School and Dance Pointe Performing Arts Center students; and a special visit from Santa! Call 744-5000.

—The Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society will hold its annual Tree Lighting and Holiday Festival at the Daniel Hawkins House, 111 North Country Road, Miller Place on Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. 631-476-5742.

Mount Sinai

Join the North Shore Youth Council and the Mount Sinai Fire Department for a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Heritage Park, 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road, Mount Sinai on Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. Listen to carols, enjoy hot chocolate and visit with Santa. 631-509-0882


The Nesconset Chamber of Commerce will hold a Holiday Lighting at the Nesconset Gazebo on Smithtown Blvd., Nesconset on Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. with music, refreshments and a visit from Santa Claus. 631-724-2543

Port Jefferson – just added

The Port Jefferson Business Improvement District will host the 1st annual Christmas Tree Lighting at the intersection of Broadway and East Broadway on Dec 1 at 6 p.m. (rescheduled from Nov. 30) Watch Santa light the Christmas Tree and enjoy candy canes and hot chocolate courtesy of Port Jefferson Starbucks.  631-473-1414

Port Jefferson Station – rescheduled

Join the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce for a Community Tree Lighting at the Chamber Car, corner of Nesconset Highway and Route 112, Port Jefferson Station on Dec. 8 (rescheduled from Dec. 3) from 6 to 8 p.m. with performances by School of Rock and BackStage Dance Studio. Hot chocolate will be served. 631-821-1313

Rocky Point

The 38th annual Rocky Point Christmas Tree Lighting will be held on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. at the corner of Broadway and Prince Road, Rocky Point with live holiday music, hot chocolate and candy canes and a special visit from Santa. 631-729-0699

St. James

The St. James Chamber of Commerce invites the community to a Christmas Tree Lighting celebration at Deepwells Farm County Park, 2 Taylor Lane, St. James on Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. with holiday music, kids crafts, pictures with Santa, cookies and hot chocolate. 631-584-8510


Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, 5 Randall Road, Shoreham invites the community to a Holiday Lighting on Dec. 3 from 3 to 6 p.m. Enjoy music, festive exhibits and activities for all ages with a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Register for your free tickets at www.teslasciencecenter.org.


— Rescheduled from Nov. 30. Smithtown Town Hall, 99 West Main St., Smithtown will hold a Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. with live music, balloon sculpting, cookies and hot chocolate. 631-360-7512

Smithtown Library, 1 North Country Road, Smithtown will light their holiday tree on Dec. 2 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. with refreshments and photos with Santa. 631-360-2480.

Stony Brook

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization hosts a Holiday Tree Lighting at the Stony Brook Village Center Green, 111 Main St., Stony Brook on Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m. as part of the WMHO’s 42nd annual Holiday Festival. 631-751-2244.

Wading River

Join The Shoppes at East Wind, 5768 Route 25A, Wading River for its 6th annual Holiday Tree Lighting on Dec. 3 from 4 to 8 p.m. Stop by to put a letter in Santa’s mailbox, enjoy live DJ Entertainment with LI Sound DJ and dancing, ride Rudolph on the carousel Stop by to put a letter in Santa’s mailbox, enjoy music and dancing, and more. Santa arrives on a Fire Truck to light the tree and take free photo with families. Santa will also be at the Shoppes on Dec. 10 and 17 from noon to 5 p.m. 631-929-3500

By Heidi Sutton

Many families have holiday traditions, whether it’s baking cookies, making their favorite side dishes, decorating the tree on a certain day, going to see the same show every year or wearing ugly sweaters. Among those traditions is the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story (1983) on TBS that began in 1997 and now also runs on TNT on Dec. 24 and 25. And if you know the name of the Lone Ranger’s nephew’s horse, then you are a true fan.

Based on semi-autobiographical stories by Jean Shepherd, who also narrates throughout, the funny holiday film follows the Parker family — 9-year-old Ralphie, his younger brother Randy, his father (the Old Man) and his mother — living in a house on Cleveland Street in fictional Hohman, Indiana and their days leading up to the Christmas of 1940.

When asked by his mother what he would like for Christmas Ralphie doesn’t say Tinker toys, a football and or a Radio Flyer. He wants a bb gun — a Red Ryder carbine-action 200 Shot Range Model air rifle with a stock and a thing that tells time, to be exact. When his mother tells him no, that he’ll “shoot his eye out,” he goes on a quest  to try to convince her otherwise. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2012.

Now the classic holiday story returns to the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport through Dec. 31 and is the perfect holiday gift for the entire family.

Directed and choreographed by Mara Newberry Greer with a live orchestra conducted by Daniel Mollett, the show follows the film closely with many of the scenes we have come to love. In the role of Jean Shepherd, narrator Michael Fasciano, stepping in for Mark Aldrich last Saturday night, sits on the right side of the theater and presents the story in a series of vignettes as he remembers “Another time, another place … and a gun.”

As with everything the Engeman does, the show is bold and fresh and pushes the limits of live theater to take the audience down a joyous trip down memory lane. The Old Man’s major award, the Bumpus hounds, Ralphie’s scuffle with Scut Farkus (what a name!) while fellow toadie Grover Dill looks helplessly on; the frosty flagpole scene with Flick and Schwartz, Randy’s snowsuit, the furnace, the trip to Higbee’s Department Store with Santa and the infamous slide, the flat tire, the pink bunny costume, when Ralphie almost shoots his eye out, Christmas morning around the tree and Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant — all the scenes we have come to love are there in all their glory.

The entire cast is phenomenal. 

As the Old Man, Ryan M. Hunt brings the house down with “A Major Award” where he dances with multiple leg lamps. Rachel Gubow, stepping in for Jennifer Evans last Saturday night, was wonderful in the role of the mother, keeping calm in the household.  Her rendition of “What a Mother Does” was heartfelt. Jackson Parker Gill is perfectly cast as Randy and even sounds like him, especially during the snowsuit scene.

Drawing the most laughs is Lanene Charters as Ralphie’s teacher Miss Shields. Obsessed with margins, Charters is hilarious in the big Speak Easy number “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” as she mercilessly mocks Ralphie in this terrific tap dance number.

However it is the amazingly talented Kaian Lilien in the role of Ralphie who commands the stage. His incredible performance in the opening number, “It All Comes Down to Christmas” is only topped by his rendition of “Ralphie to the Rescue!,” in one of the best scenes in the show. 

The period costumes by Dustin Cross perfectly set the scene and the set, designed by Kyle Dixon, is impressive as well. Two rooms featuring an authentic 1940s kitchen and living room (the heart of the home) slide front and back on the stage to accommodate other scenes including Ralphie’s classroom and the alleyway, among others. The boys’ bunk bed slides out from the side. Beautifully executed! 

Make this show part of your family’s holiday tradition. I triple dog dare you. 

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents A Christmas Story through Dec. 31. Main stage theater continues with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels from Jan. 19 to March 5, 2023 and The Scarlet Pimpernel from March 16 to April 30, 2023. Tickets range from $80 to $85 with free valet parking. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photo by Gerard Romano


Gerard Romano of Port Jefferson Station was out with his camera on Dec. 17 ‘looking for something appropriate for the season’ when he spied these pretty bells adorning the door of the Belle Terre Village Hall and took the perfect shot. Happy Holidays!

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected]

Photo from Unsplash

With Christmas this weekend, families are looking to get together for some quality time.

Last Christmas, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, people quarantined with just those in their households. It was lonely for some, but they stayed safe, away from contact with other people.

Then 2021 came around and with the vaccines we saw some hope — we began slowly peeling off our masks and traveling again. Families became reunited.

But unfortunately, that was premature and now Suffolk County is at a 14% positivity rate as of Tuesday, Dec. 21.

To put it in perspective, municipalities across New York state were shut down at 5% in the spring of 2020. We have doubled the seven-day average compared to where we were at that time and have not shut down.

And there are reasons for that. Luckily more than a year-and-a-half later we have the vaccines, we have boosters and we know that masks work — we just need to continue using them and continue using common sense.

It’s sad to think that this is the second Christmas where some families might not be able to see their loved ones out of fear. It’s sad that we as a country were doing well and now have fallen back into old habits of not taking care of ourselves and of others.

If we continue not to listen to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our health care providers and the science,

Politicians insist we won’t go into lockdown, but what will happen if the infection rate goes to 20%? What will we do if the hospitals are overfilled again?

With the comfort we felt during this past summer, newly vaccinated with restrictions lifted, some might have forgotten what early 2020 looked like. Visits to grandparents were through a window. Restaurants were not allowed to have inside dining. Disinfectants and masks were impossible to find, while bodies were kept in outside trailers because the morgue was filled to capacity.

We don’t want to head back in that direction, especially with all of the resources now available to us. We have the vaccine, we have the booster, we have masks and we know how to combat this virus. We just need to collectively do it and not treat it lightly.

So, for this holiday season, and throughout the rest of the winter, please take care of yourself, take care of others and be cautious.

Pixabay photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Dr. Matthew Kearns

This year I’ve transitioned to all artificial holiday decorations but I do reminisce about the days of live trees, etc. For those that decorate with live plants/trees be careful.  What looks good can be dangerous to dogs and cats. Below is a list of holiday plants that can be dangerous to pets.

Poinsettias: Poinsettias are beautiful and always remind me of the holidays. Luckily, they are not very toxic. They do contain a compound called diterpene esthers. This compound can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors but only in large quantities. Try to keep your pets away from poinsettias but the risk of toxicity is low.

Live Christmas Trees: A live tree is beautiful and smells great but can also release resins, or oils that can irritate a pet’s mouth and digestive tract. These resins accumulate in the water used to keep the try hydrated and pets tend to drink it. This can lead to ulcers, or sores in a pet’s mouth, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be quite serious causing dehydration and potentially leading to hospitalization for IV fluids and medications. The needles from the trees are sharp and can cause a mechanical irritation leading to the same symptoms.

Mistletoe: Pucker up buttercup if you’re around the mistletoe. Luckily, ingestion of mistletoe only causes mild gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea) and rarely needs attention by a veterinarian. If you do catch your pet near the mistletoe, make sure to give them a smooch before chasing them away.

Holly: Known as the “prickly plant,” holly will only cause symptoms associated with gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. This rarely needs treatment at the veterinarian’s office

Amaryllis: The amaryllis plant contains certain chemicals called alkaloids, and another specific chemical called galanthamine. The alkaloids cause irritation of the mouth, stomach and intestines which leads to drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Galanthamine is a cholinesterase inhibitor. This chemical can lead to tremors and, in larger volumes, seizures. Luckily, both of these chemicals are in low concentrations in the leaves. The highest concentration is in the bulb which pets tend not to eat.

Lilies: Although lilies are not a flower that blooms around the holidays, they are commonly part of holiday bouquets. Not only can lilies cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, but also cause damage to the kidneys (cats are particularly sensitive to this). I would recommend being very careful in having lilies around during the holidays.

Most of the common plants described just cause an upset stomach so having live plants and trees is not extremely dangerous. However, I would caution using caution when bringing live plants in the household and restrict your pet’s access to them (as best you can).

I want to thank the readers of this column, as well as wish everyone a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I would like to also thank Heidi Sutton, editor of the Arts and Lifestyle section, as well as all the staff at Times Beacon Record News Media for another great year!

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.