In my last column, I mentioned It’s A Wonderful Life. I’m going to reference that movie one final time this holiday season. Even though the holiday season has not always brought me tidings of comfort and joy, I’d like to believe that there is still some magic to be found.
In the movie, Clarence shows George Bailey what the world would be like if George had never been born. It’s a much darker place. When George realizes how wonderful his life really was, he is magically transported back to that much better place. I’m kind of hoping that Clarence would be able to transport us to a happier world. I know that December is his busy season, but here’s hoping for that holiday magic again. Here’s what I’m hoping we’ll find in that place.
It was just a few short weeks ago that Superstorm Sandy was causing us nothing but panic and grief. It was one problem right after another making those few days feel like an eternity, but I think we can agree that it gave us new appreciation for simple pleasures like brewing a cup of coffee or taking a hot shower. As often happens in times of sacrifice, we grew in solidarity with our neighbors, pulling through with a sense that we were “all in this together.”
Then the lights came back on, the heat started working, gas stations came back online and we happily started to forget about Sandy. There were, of course, expensive and inconvenient repairs to be made, and donations to be sent, but for most of us on this part of the Island, life pretty much returned to “normal.”
This Saturday, Dec. 15, will mark the eighth and final night of Hanukkah. Traditionally, it commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Upon the retaking of the temple, there was only enough olive oil sufficient to burn for only one day in the temple’s newly crafted menorah until new oil was made available. Through a miracle, the oil continued to burn for eight days. As families gather to light candles, consume latkes and bask in the symbolism of national liberation and religious freedom associated with the holiday, Anton Community Newspapers wishes a Happy Hanukkah to all.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
I don’t remember a time when I ever believed in Santa Claus, but I don’t think I specifically disbelieved in him either. I think, from the age of 4, my mindset on the subject could be summarized as “I am Jewish, therefore it is irrelevant whether Santa is real or not, because he’s not bringing me anything.” That may sound coldly analytical for a small child, but never underestimate the mercenary tendencies of a little girl who really wants a new Barbie doll. Apparently, if there was nothing in it for me, the mystifying existential state of the jolly man in a red suit could be happily left alone.
Come to think of it, I had a cynical view of the holidays in general from a very young age. I was painfully aware of the fact that Hanukkah is a big scam, and I actually mean no offense to Hanukkah: it’s a fun little holiday, and any excuse to eat potato pancakes fried in oil should be respected. The scam lies in trying to con children into believing that Hanukkah is just the Jewish flavor of Christmas, which I’m convinced every Jewish child knows deep down is a well-intentioned, yet somehow odious lie.
One of the more enduring traditions that the Village of New Hyde Park celebrates every year is the annual Christmas tree lighting. Valley National Bank has been the longstanding sponsor for the event and as such, does a bang-up job in helping to make it far more than a routine flipping of a switch to light up the tree. The magician Amore showed up to dazzle the crowd with his sleight of hand, the New Hyde Park Memorial High School band and choir made a joyous noise and Santa rode in on a New Hyde Park Fire Department truck, immediately putting a grin on the faces of children of all ages. The little ones got a further treat when they were surprised with gifts given out to them from the Little Treasures Nursery School. These small gestures may not seem like much, but in light of the destruction recently brought to the village by Hurricane Sandy, it all adds up to the kind of cherished, small-town custom and spiritual balm that goes a long ways towards making New Hyde Park a great place to live.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
The following New Hyde Park-Garden City Park students; Nicole Joseph, grade 6, Vishwajit Sharma, grade 6 Manor Oaks, and Saumya Sharma, grade 6, who graduated from Manor Oaks in June, were selected to participate in the Institute for Creative Problem Solving and were accepted into the SUNY Program. They competed on Dec. 1, in 20 problem-solving sessions at SUNY Old Westbury.
The holiday season throughout the world is rooted in traditions and celebrations. In the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, students celebrate with a display of their talents at the Annual Christmas Concert and art display at each of our four schools. The community is reminded that the dates for these concerts are posted on the district website, and everyone is encouraged to attend, free of charge, for a great night out.
The beginning of December also marks that the holiday season is in full swing. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, “Thank God.” No, not because I’m all that into the holidays, which I will explain a little bit later, but because December 1 also means that hurricane season is officially over. I think all of us on Long Island are relieved at that. So if bringing in the holidays means doing away with hurricanes, then I say string up the holly!
It shows you just how bad the hurricane was if I’m saying to bring on the holidays. The season and I have never really been friends. As a child, I would often come down with strep throat at this time of the year. One year, as a young child, our beloved Christmas display was vandalized. I can still remember getting in my mom’s car and seeing Rudolph smashed and turned upside down. The decorations were repaired, but one week later the whole display was stolen. My beloved first dog, Charlie, died a week before Christmas when I was young. Years later, another beloved pet, Ricky, died the day after New Year’s. Another year, during the season, I was hit in the rear as I was stopped at a stop sign. The weather gets too cold for golf and Bethpage is closed on Christmas so I can’t console myself with even the thought that I could possibly play on Christmas, if I really, really wanted to. And in a note that we can all relate to, could there be any more traffic in the malls at this time of year? So, as you can see, as December rolls around, I usually cringe and hope that the damage won’t be too bad.
It took the wrath of Hurricane Sandy to reveal the deep-seated wealth of communal altruism that binds Long Islanders. In New Hyde Park, it didn’t take a natural disaster, just the actions of Diana Biehayn to get a taste of this particular brand of human kindness. Over a number of decades, this longtime NHP resident has selflessly given of her time and efforts as a means of helping out family, friends and neighbors. A tireless New Hyde Park Memorial High School booster, heavily involved in numerous civic organizations including AARP, FISH and the Lions Club, Biehayn has been giving her all in as low key a manner as you’d expect from someone as modest as this proud grandmother. It turns out that these actions haven’t gone entirely unnoticed as Biehayn was the recent recipient of the Town of North Hempstead’s Hometown Heroes award. The Illustrated News offers its congratulations to Diana Biehayn for this well-deserved honor that went to the kind of community champion that helps bind a village like New Hyde Park together.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
I had written something on the conflict in Gaza only to find out, within minutes of finishing, that a cease-fire had been announced. I considered scrapping the whole thing, but you know what? Sadly, this will probably still be relevant going forward, because chances of this ceasefire setting the foundation for a lasting peace are slim to none.
And if I’m wrong, and the end of this particular conflict marks the beginning of a new, more peaceful era in the region, my having published one dated column will be a very small price to pay, I think.
With Hurricane Sandy recovery slated to take years, it’s hard to find much to be thankful for, especially if you were unfortunate enough to lose your home, or more tragically, a loved one. That said, there are a number of things to be thankful for. Aside from LIPA’s glaring ineptitude, we should be thankful that there was enough early warning from various weather outlets that the loss of life wasn’t far greater given the population density of the tri-state area. We should be thankful that the FEMA of Hurricane Katrina isn’t the same agency that’s currently trying to help citizens get through Sandy. We should be thankful that gas shortages and excessive lines are becoming less common. We should be thankful that not only more people are getting their power back, but that our crack emergency responders, firemen, police and utility workers did such an outstanding job in getting everyone through this devastation. Finally we should be thankful that despite scattered anecdotes of greed and cruelty, munificence and human kindness were more the rule than the exception as everyone tried to get through this natural disaster in one piece. We at Anton Community Newspapers wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
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