With this being the week before Christmas, I had planned to write an editorial wishing everyone happy holidays, and I still wish all of you the best. However, something happened at a Massapequa Park Village Board meeting which I wish to reflect on. Dan Pearl was sworn in as a trustee, as his family looked on. It was a happy moment that I’m sure he will always treasure, and I wish him well in his new role. After he took his seat on the board, Mayor James Altadonna took the nameplate that belonged to the late Harry Jacobson, whom Pearl is replacing, and handed it to Village Administrator Peggy Caltabiano.
It was a final reminder that Harry is no longer with us, and this made me sad. When you cover a beat, as I have covered Massapequa Park for many years, you get to really know the people in charge. I can state from my personal experience that Harry was a good man. Up until the day he passed on, he always had the best interests of Massapequa Park residents at heart. For example, whenever the owners of a potential new business appeared before the board at a public work session, Harry would always question them to make sure that the proposed business would be an enhancement and not blight to the community. He truly cared for the village and he left a lasting legacy.
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.
Last week, the Massapequa School Board voted to cancel the last four days of the February break to make up for some of the school time lost due to cancellations caused by Hurricane Sandy. I agree with that decision. According to Superintendent Charles Sulc, the Commissioner of Education is not yet willing to lower the 180 school day requirement, so therefore Massapequa must make up for the lost days. While it will be difficult for some families who had made arrangements for that week, the alternative of taking vacation days away from the December break when families are getting together for Christmas and New Year’s, or the spring break when families are celebrating Passover and Easter, would have been worse.
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.
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.
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.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
This is one of my favorite quotes that I often repeat. During my experiences, I have met individuals who have gained power and used it to make a positive difference, help others, and make themselves true leaders. I have also encountered those who let the power go to their heads and used it in a bad manner. Therefore, I consider this statement from Lincoln to be truly sage advice that I often refer to, and with a movie about the 16th President now showing in movie theaters, it is also timely.
It seems like it was just yesterday when the temperature was in the nineties and trips to Jones Beach for a swim or Bethpage State Park for a round of golf were in season. However, the holidays are here again. On Saturday night, Massapequa Park will host its annual tree and menorah lighting event. I encourage all of you to attend. There are some events that make a community special, and this is one of them. It is heartwarming to see the delight in the children’s eyes as the big man in the red suit makes an appearance. It’s equally nice to see members of the community come together and share a special event. The last month has been quite difficult due to the storms, but the Massapequas are still a very special place and it is events like the tree and menorah lighting that make them so. Please come and enjoy. Happy Holidays!
Considering how we’ve all been concerned with pretty serious business for the last couple of weeks, I thought I’d do something on the lighter side this time and discuss anime, or Japanese animation. My experience has been that most people over the age of 25 are only dimly aware of what anime is and would actually like to know more about what their children/grandchildren/etc. are into. Hey, if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “Oh, you watch anime? I don’t know what that is, but my kids are crazy about it!” I might even have an entire dollar.
However, instead of trying to provide any sort of Anime 101-style overview, a questionable endeavor at best, I thought I would provide some information on some of the weekly shows that happen to be airing on Japanese television right now. Keep in mind this isn’t any sort of favorites list, this is only shows that are currently airing in Japan that I happen to be watching. From this sampling, you may start to get an idea of why so many people find these cartoons uniquely appealing; original Japanese titles, if applicable, are in parentheses.
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