Tags Posts tagged with "Holidays"


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. 

One Long Island kid is helping put smiles on the faces of patients at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital this holiday season. It all started when 9-year-old Sydney O’Sullivan of Holbrook was treated for kidney stones over three emergency room stays beginning in the Summer of 2021. While at the hospital, one of Stony Brook’s child life specialists paid her a visit with a toy in hand. Getting the toy helped take her mind off being in the hospital and that inspired Sydney to want to help others in the children’s hospital feel the same way.

“Some kids have to be in the hospital for Christmas, so I thought of a way I could spread some holiday cheer,” says Sydney.

Together with her mom Karen, Sydney made some chocolate reindeer lollipops to sell to raise money towards a toy donation. After posting on social media, Sydney was able to sell over 200 lollipops and raise $600 to purchase nearly 50 toys to bring to kids at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

“I am so proud of her,” says Karen O’Sullivan, Sydney’s mother. “She came up with this idea all on her own and is helping a lot of children.”

Sydney donated a stretcher filled with toys to the children’s hospital on December 17.

Photos courtesy of Stony Brook Medicine

Seiskaya Ballet principal Lara Caraiani and guest artist Blake Krapels will dazzle when they perform the elegant Sugar Plum Pas de Deux. 

The Seiskaya Ballet’s The Nutcracker, a perennial holiday favorite on Long Island, returns to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook for a six-performance run from Dec. 16 to 19. This classical ballet rendition has earned praise from critics and audiences alike. 

Hailed as Long Island’s most lavish “Nutcracker,” the Seiskaya Ballet production of the classic holiday ballet is a truly international collaboration beginning with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s most famous score. Sets and several costumes were designed by Poland’s Margaret Piotrowska whose highly respected work in Polish television and stage productions has garnered wide praise. 

Directed by founder Joseph Forbes, scenery was executed by Scenic Art Studios which has been credited with painting over 300 Broadway shows. The imaginative and unusual sculptures utilized in the Seiskaya Ballet’s production were the brainchild of creative artist Matt Targon. Choreographed by celebrated Russian-born Valia Seiskaya, this acclaimed production is imbued with bravura dancing, energy and endearing charisma.

The cast will be led by BalletX standout, guest artist, Blake Krapels (Cavalier) plus Seiskaya Ballet’s award winning Principal Dancers Lara Caraiani, Kyra Allgaier, Rachel Bland and Maya Butkevich.

Performances will be held on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 19 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

Tickets are $40 for adults, $34 children and seniors and $30 for groups of 20 or more at the Staller Center Box Office at 631-632-ARTS and at www.nutcrackerballet.com. (Attended box office hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and two hours prior to all performances. Online seat selection is available for all shows.)



Photo courtesy of Pinelawn

Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum has created a special holiday program enabling families to have their loved one’s memorials adorned with environmentally-friendly holiday decorations, which are recycled and repurposed, at the end of the season, and turned into compost used to continue to nourish the various plantings throughout Pinelawn’s 500-acre property.

The decorations consist of a living evergreen base and are trimmed with assorted ornamental elements, and finished with a red velvet bow. Families have the option to select from a variety of decorative options for their loved ones’ final resting place, including blankets and sprays for plots, and evergreen wreaths, cones, and tree-shaped decorations for mausoleum locations. Families can purchase the evergreen decorations through Pinelawn, and have Pinelawn place them on their behalf. This program also helps families who wish to adorn their loved one’s memorials with vibrant holiday decorations when they are not able to place them themselves.

“We recognized that we were taking too much artificial material to the landfill at the end of each holiday season so we introduced this environmentally-friendly program in 2010,” said Justin Locke, Pinelawn’s President.  “This allowed us to reduce our carbon footprint and be more conscious of the environment.  At the end of the season, we remove any artificial components then chip and compost the decorations.  The compost is regularly turned over to facilitate the process and create mulch that is used to enrich flowering beds and newly planted trees.” 

“Following in the footsteps of our founders, we are always looking to be good stewards to the environment and help educate the community throughout the year,” continued Locke.  “Our families very much appreciate the holiday program which not only allows them to pay tribute to their loved ones during the holiday season but also helps the environment where their loved ones are laid to rest.”  

Pinelawn’s holiday program began the day after Thanksgiving and continues through mid-January.  Once the holiday season is over, Pinelawn’s team collects the holiday decorations, which are composted and spread throughout the 500-acre property both in the planting beds and also when planting or transplanting trees. 

For more information about Pinelawn’s environmentally-friendly holiday program, including regulations regarding placement, and to select and purchase decorations, visit www.pinelawn.com or this link.

Proceeds from the sale of Pinelawn’s holiday decorations go to the Pinelawn Maintenance Fund, which helps provide support in the care of Pinelawn’s magnificent 500-acre grounds and arboretum.  Recently awarded Level II status from the International Arboretum Accreditation Program, ArbNet, the Pinelawn Arboretum is maintained by a full-time gardening staff, including a certified arborist, to ensure spectacular park-like grounds.

Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum, located in Farmingdale, New York, is a non-sectarian cemetery prided on creating and maintaining a beautiful and serene environment where families can find tranquility and comfort.  Its open and expansive landscape features hundreds of acres of manicured grounds, unique architecture, flowing bronze fountains, and flower-lined walks.  Its beautiful memorial gardens offer all who visit, scenic beauty where they can reflect upon their loved ones in peace. For more information on Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum, or to schedule a tour of the property, visit www.pinelawn.com or call 631-249-6100.

Matt Hoffman

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

Matt Hoffman’s debut album, The Start of Something Big, featured jazz and pop standards including “When You’re Smiling,” “What Are you Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” and the title song. He celebrates these favorites with his own terrific take. Hoffman has an effortless tenor that both soars and charms. Dropping in May 2019, it has since garnered over one million cumulative streams on Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music.

Matt Hoffman

After receiving the Celebration Award from Michael Feinstein’s Songbook Academy Vocal Competition (held at the 3,500-seat Palladium Concert Hall), Hoffman performed with Feinstein at Manhattan’s 54 Below. He has sung at New York City’s Birdland, with The New York Voices’ Lauren Kinhan and Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer. Hoffman made multiple appearances there for Jim Carouso’s “The Cast Party,” where the legendary Billy Stritch accompanied him. Additionally, he has been seen at New York’s Swing 46 as well as The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook.

Hoffman’s voice crosses many categories. His influences range from Harry Connick, Jr., to Frank Sinatra. Both contemporary and a throwback, he has a unique and vibrant sound. His blend of studio and theatre background splendidly colors his presentation, enhancing the beautiful vocals with a resonant emotional connection.

And now, Hoffman’s sophomore outing, Say It Ain’t Snow!, offers his personal flair on popular holiday fare. The seven tracks feature a wonderful range of material and boast a thrilling seventeen-piece Big Band with strings. The arrangements, by Trevor Motycka, are exceptional, perfectly matching Hoffman’s ability to shift from the grand to the witty to the heartfelt. There is the twinkle of holidays past—the spirit of the season of the great singers of television, vinyl, and CDs.

Say It Ain’t Snow! kicks off with an appealing, magnetic “This Christmas.” Hoffman’s knowing “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” winks to so many fireside holiday specials. The Christmas Classics medley—“Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Let It Snow,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”—shows an exceptional variety with seamless segues and a particularly exciting rendition of “Let It Snow.” 

The sense of discovery in “The Christmas Song” is unique and surprisingly introspective. “Silver Bells” readily zings from a pastoral stroll in the snow to the lights of the city, showing off his jazz chops with masterful scatting. The simplicity and honest clarity of “O, Holy Night” is the perfect contrast to his letting loose with the final song, an exuberant, wry, “Run, Rudolph, Run.” In every number, Hoffman doesn’t just sing—he paints a vocal picture that is rich, evocative, and inviting.

Returning as album producer is Jackson Hoffman, who partnered with Hoffman on The Start of Something Big. Jackson Hoffman produced and co-wrote 2020 Voice winner Carter Rubin’s latest single. Here, he has assembled exceptional musicians to create the overall sonic landscape, coupling the Big Band sound with the neo-Swing era music arrangements.

There are not enough accolades for the band, which swings with bold brass playing magically against the lush strings. The ensemble creates the ideal backing for Hoffman. Hopefully, Hoffman and company will continue to offer seasonal treats as well as a wide range of jazz, classical, musical theatre, and standard catalogs.

No holiday season is complete without Christmas music. Whether you are a fan of traditional carols or lean towards the contemporary, music inspires holiday cheer. Hoffman’s Say It Ain’t Snow! has something for everyone, with its warmth, sense of wonder, and real joy. It is a gift for this, next, and all the Christmases to follow.

Say It Isn’t Snow! is available on music streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music and SoundCloud.

Pixabay photo

By Father Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

A few weeks ago, the federal government announced over 100,000 people died from heroin/fentanyl.  In Suffolk County, the number of senseless deaths is beyond numbers and words.

The pandemic has strained mental health services; and comprehensive residential treatment beds are hard to find. Long-term residential treatment is almost nonexistent.

However, the County Executive’s office allegedly has millions of dollars to distribute that are being held hostage while they decide how to distribute it. Meanwhile, countless lives are being senselessly lost due to this inaction.

It seems pretty clear to many of us in the trenches that a request for proposals should be sent out. Those interested should submit evidence-based proposals that primarily focus on opioid treatment and relapse prevention.

A team of professionals in the field of addiction, County legislators and parents who have lost children to this health epidemic should be left with the task of deciding who gets what, but it must happen soon! Time is of the essence. Every day I get calls from at least two parents representing two different families asking me to pray for a son or daughter that has overdosed and died.

Insurance is useless. It is not shaped on wellness or positive outcomes; it is shaped on saving money, not lives. Outpatient treatment for chronic relapses does not work for most. It is really a death sentence. Look at the data. Too many insurance companies refuse to pay and do the right thing. They should be forced to pay and should have no say in determining the kind of treatment necessary for the patient. That should be left in the hands of trained professionals.

It is December; in the Christian community it is known as Advent — a season of hope. In the Jewish community, they celebrate Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. Christians light advent candles, Jews light candles on the menorah. For both religious traditions, it is a time for renewed hope.

This holiday season is a powerful opportunity to celebrate the gift of hope — to transcend all the infectious negativity that is polarizing our nation. It is a time to celebrate the goodness that is all around us. The random acts of kindness in our community are inspirational. I continue to be amazed and inspired by our young people.

Christmas Magic, a local charity, collects thousands of gifts for children in our homeless shelters throughout Suffolk County. It engages hundreds of high school and college students who donate their time, collect and wrap gifts for poor children.

Christmas Magic was the creative idea of a dad more than 25 years ago who wanted to teach his children the real meaning of Christmas. That father is a man from our community who has done so much for so many never looking for anything in return. His power of example is extraordinary. He not only talks the talk but he walks the walk.

As we celebrate the Season of Hope and the Festival of Lights, let us make every effort to be beacons of hope and festivals of light for people who often hover in darkness.

May this season be a blessing for all of you — thanks for blessing me!

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