12/22/13 8:00am
12/22/2013 8:00 AM
This Don Duga painting, 'Memories of Frosty' has been on exhibit at the Dark Horse restaurant in Riverhead.

This Don Duga painting, ‘Memories of Frosty’ has been on exhibit at the Dark Horse restaurant.

Ever notice how nasty the adults are in Christmas specials?

Michael White, editor

Michael White

Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve curled up with a cup of hot chocolate and a stop-motion animated classic. If so, here are some reminders. (more…)

12/21/12 3:00pm
12/21/2012 3:00 PM

The following is the News-Review’s annual listing of holiday services held at local churches:

Riverhead
Baiting Hollow Congregational Church
Saturday, Dec. 22: Christmas party and potluck supper with entertainment by children and visit from Santa, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 23: Christmas Sunday worship, 10 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve service, 7 p.m.

Calvary Baptist Church
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve candlelight service, 7 p.m.

Church of the Harvest
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Christmas morning pancake breakfast and carol sing, 9 a.m.

First Baptist Church of Riverhead
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Christmas morning worship, 11 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Watch, 10:30 p.m.

Galilee Church of God in Christ
Sunday, Dec. 23: Christmas cantata, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Free hot dinners served at church, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve service, 11 p.m.

Grace Episcopal Church
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Christmas Day Mass, 10 a.m.

House of Praise Christian Revival Center
Sunday, Dec. 23: Christmas program, 11:30 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve service and fellowship, 7 p.m.

Living Water Full Gospel Church
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve candlelight service, 6 p.m.

Riverhead United Methodist Church
Sunday, Dec. 23: Worship service, 10 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve family candlelight service, 7 p.m.; candlelight service, 11 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Christmas Day service with communion, 10 a.m.

St. Isidore R.C. Church
Saturday, Dec. 22: Confessions, 1-4:45 p.m. and following 5 p.m. Mass.
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Masses, 5 p.m., 10 p.m. (Polish) and midnight.
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Masses, 8, 9:15, 10:30 (Polish) a.m. and noon.
Monday, Dec. 31: Mass, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 1: Masses, 8, 9:15, 10:30 (Polish) a.m. and noon.

St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Nativity of Our Lord (new calendar) confessions, 8 a.m.; Christmas Divine Liturgy, 9 a.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 1: Circumcision of Our Lord Divine Liturgy, 10 a.m.
Sunday, Jan. 6: Theophany of Our Lord Divine Liturgy and Great Blessing of Water, 8:30 a.m.
Sunday, Jan. 6: Christmas Eve (old calendar) confessions, 4 p.m.; Great Compline, 5 p.m.; Traditional Ukrainian Holy Supper in church hall, 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 7: Nativity of Our Lord Christmas Divine Liturgy, 10 a.m.
Monday, Jan. 14: Circumcision of Our Lord Divine Liturgy, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 19: Theophany of Our Lord Divine Liturgy and Great Blessing of Water, 6 p.m.

St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church
Saturday, Dec. 22: Sacrament of Penance/confessions, 9-9:30 a.m., 3 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 24: Sacrament of Penance/confessions, 8:30-9 a.m.; Christmas Eve Masses, 4, 7 and 9 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Christmas Day masses, 9 and 11 a.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish).
Monday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Masses, 5:30 and 7:30 (Spanish) p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 1: The Solemnity Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, Masses, 8 a.m., 12:10 and 7 (Spanish) p.m.

Aquebogue/Jamesport
First Parish Church
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve service, 7 p.m.

North Fork Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Sunday, Dec. 23: Christmas Eve service of carols and stories with the Rev. Linda Anderson.

Old Steeple Community Church
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve candlelight worship, 8 p.m.

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve candlelight service, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 25: Christmas Day worship service, 10 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve worship service, 7 p.m.

Wading River
North Shore United Methodist Church
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve family worship service, 5 p.m.; Candlelight service with communion, 9 p.m.

Wading River Congregational Church
Sunday, Dec. 23: Service of lessons and carols, 10:15 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve candlelight services, 6 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 30: Worship service, 10:15 a.m.

01/05/11 11:21am
01/05/2011 11:21 AM

A new year is a time for new resolve, new hope and a fresh perspective. The last two years, I felt like New Year’s was just more of the same. This feeling began when my husband lost his 22-year position as a church administrator with the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The economic crash of 2008 swept into our home with the force of a tsunami.

At that same time, my youngest daughter, Johanna, born with a rare genetic disease causing malformations in her brain, was undergoing IV treatments for a systemic infection. I anxiously pondered how we would provide for this fragile life. While preparing for Johanna’s 75th surgery, we educated ourselves on unemployment, COBRA and life in these new economic times.

Our greatest financial concerns were health insurance and the mortgage. The COBRA subsidy of 2009 helped to provide the life-sustaining health insurance our daughter so desperately needs. The mortgage was a nightmare.

In 2006, in an effort to provide some breathing room with medical, household expenses and college bills, we entered into a mortgage that our broker explained was a relatively safe venture unless the economy and housing market crashed and you lost your job. Being short-sighted and exhausted from the crises surrounding our daughter’s illness, we blindly discounted those risks in favor of breathing room.

That “breathing room” quickly suffocated us as the “perfect storm” of economic disaster hit our home in November 2008. Early in 2009, we communicated our struggles to the bank, seeking a loan modification in an effort to secure the mortgage.

The process was frustrating from beginning to end. Lack of consistent bank personnel, lost paperwork and inaccurate notations on computer systems bred confusion. Every encounter started from square one. Unable to pay the mortgage on unemployment and COBRA, we continued our frantic communication with the bank. We secured the services of an attorney to walk us through the tumultuous waters of a loan modification. The law office kept us abreast of the endless paperwork and provided third-party verification for all communication with the bank.

In March, 2010, just weeks before my daughter had another brain surgery, my husband secured a great job as an administrator for a thriving business. Our home business was growing as well. We excitedly presented our attorney and the bank with the new numbers, hoping to secure the mortgage and our home.

Frustrations mounted as the paperwork continued. The only offer of updating our loan was to pay the ballooning arrears and re-enter this faulty loan, now in litigation in other states. Finally, the day after Thanksgiving, we received a denial for modification.

At wit’s end, I did what every writer would do; I wrote our story and sent it to friends, editors and co-workers. I even wrote a letter to Santa. I heard my essay crossed the desk of some Wells Fargo executives. I put my faith in Santa and a little baby born in a manger.

At that same time, an MRI confirmed that Johanna has a brain tumor unlike the malformations that have plagued her since birth. Surgery was scheduled for just after New Year’s, as we made plans to spend Christmas at home.

At 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, just before leaving for Mass, I received an unexpected call. It was a home preservation specialist from Wells Fargo wishing me a Merry Christmas. Emotions brewed as I considered this a cruel prank on this Holy Eve. As our conversation continued he explained that Wells Fargo would indeed be granting us a modification and the terms would be worked out in the coming weeks. They wanted us to know so we could celebrate a Merry Christmas. Stunned, I stuttered, “Thank you. And Merry Christmas to you.” As scenes from “It’s a Wonderful Life” emerged from my subconscious, the shock on my face and hysterical sobs caused my family to believe I received news someone had died. In fact, we came back to life Christmas Eve. After two years of fighting the death of our dreams, we offered thanks at the altar of God and left some extra cookies for Santa. God heard our prayer and surely Santa got my letter.

Johanna received a precious gift from a friend this Christmas. It’s a snow globe with Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” She keeps it by her side day and night. Johanna says, “When I am in the hospital, all I have to do is shake my snow globe and look at my ruby red slippers and say, ‘There’s no place like home.”

While 2011 presents us with new challenges for my daughter’s health; we are a family of new resolve, fresh perspective and new hope. We resolve to ride the waves of these tumultuous times and head for the shore, working hard to secure a future for our family here on the North Fork. Whether in the pediatric ICU or on the porch in Jamesport, we will endure and thrive because truly there is no place like home.

Ms. Benthal is a community columnist covering Jamesport and Aquebogue for Times/Review Newsgroup.

12/24/10 7:00am
12/24/2010 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Lexi Leonard, Joey Stuckart and Billy Stuckart have fun building a gingerbread house.

Baking cookies seems to be a universal holiday tradition that spans all religions, cultures and customs. Whether it’s gingerbread men and houses; sweet, sugary stars of David; or crunchy, nutty fall leaves, baking cookies brings families and friends together to create treasured memories. Try these time-tested recipes with the youngsters — and the young at heart — in your family.

Ice-Box Cookies
A festive tin or gaily wrapped box of ice-box cookies makes a great take-along treat for any holiday party, and they’re sure to be welcomed at a cookie exchange. You can prepare the dough ahead of time and freeze it, tightly sealed, for up to six months. When it’s time to make the cookies, just cut and bake, and you’re ready to go!
1 cup melted butter
1 lb. brown sugar
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, pour melted butter over sugar and mix in eggs. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter, sugar and egg mixture and add in vanilla and pecans; mix well. Shape dough into logs and wrap in waxed paper. Chill overnight or at least 6 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375° F. Slice cookies 1/4-inch thick and bake for 10 minutes or until the center doesn’t flatten when gently pressed down.
Makes about 9 dozen cookies.

Sugar Cookies
These traditional sugar cookies can take any shape your heart desires: pumpkins, wreaths, even a menorah!
3 cups powdered sugar
2 cups butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and almond extracts and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix thoroughly with spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Heat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half 1/8-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with 3-inch cookie cutters. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 5-7 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Decorate cookies with glaze, icing and/or other decorations as desired.
Makes about 8 dozen cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies
This basic gingerbread recipe can make gingerbread men, houses or even fall leaves. Only your imagination can limit what this versatile recipe can create!
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, stir together brown sugar, shortening, molasses and water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease cookie sheet. On floured surface, roll dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters dipped in flour. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until no indentation remains when lightly pressed. (For a softer, chewier cookie, bake 8-10 minutes.) Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes, then decorate as desired.
Makes about 9 dozen cookies.

12/23/10 1:42pm
12/23/2010 1:42 PM

The annual Christmas gift and food drive run by members of the Riverhead PBA culminated Thursday morning with the packaging of all the goods collected throughout the drive.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO

The holidays will be a little brighter for 30 needy families from across town, from Wading River to Jamesport, thanks to the holiday drive. PBA President Dixon Palmer (far left) and the union’s vice president, police officer Chris Parkin, organized this year’s efforts. They were joined Thursday at the town’s municipal garage to package the toys and turkey dinners with all the trimmings to deliver to the families. They were joined by Riverhead High School Principal David Zimbler (far right) and Riverhead students, as well as students from McGann-Mercy and Shoreham Wading River high schools. The Riverhead PBA has been running the holiday drive for 15 years.

12/22/10 12:14pm
12/22/2010 12:14 PM

There are four stages of a man’s life:

1) He believes in Santa Claus.
2) He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.
3) He is Santa Claus.
4) He looks like Santa Claus.

I’m hovering between 3 and 4, edging ever closer to a full 4. Which has its obvious drawbacks, but it’s still a good thing as I’m particularly fond of the Christmas season. It’s a sensory delight, what with the lights, the sounds, the smells, the sitting around in torn sweats and mismatching socks dunking those Danish butter cookies that come in 100-gallon drums into a mixing bowl of eggnog throughout the 24-hours “Christmas Story” movie marathon.

OK, I made up that last part. No, seriously.

There’s also the socializing, the great food, some time off. (I left out “much deserved” because that’s, well, a given. Duh.)
What’s not to like about all that?

OK, you got me there. Sure, there’s crushing credit card debt, crazed crowds of angst-ridden shoppers, the relentless rush-rush-rush, post-party mornings of a pounding head and cottonmouth. I read about that last part in, ah, the paper one Sunday morning before heading straight off to church.

I’ve been described as an overgrown kid and won’t deny it. Aging is mandatory, maturity optional. Were I a counselor/analyst — granted, an unnerving and disconcerting notion on so many levels — I might opine that, for those who follow it, the Christmas experience allows us to reconnect with our inner child. In so doing, we draw deeply from the well of long-submerged feelings of safety, security, familial love, innocent excitement and that all-too-elusive sense of wonder.

Not to mention socially acceptable avarice. (Hey! How come Dennis and Mary got more gifts than me! No fair!)

It rekindles warm and wonderful memories, like me Ma tripping in the dining room and sending a full baking dish of ravioli and tomato sauce flying. Seemed hilarious at the time. Well, not to her, obviously.

Of staring at me aged granddad, in his chair sleeping and snoring, his mouth open but his dentures closed. (Also hilarious. Not to him when he’d wake up and catch us.)

Of the fully decorated Christmas tree toppling over onto me Ma’s cousin during dinner and a brother exclaiming “tim-ber!” (Hilarious squared.)

Of learning the heart-wrenching truth about St. Nick and in a fit of rage sharing the news with little brother, who couldn’t have cared less.

That, right there, foreshadowed the day when he’d become an attorney.

Come to think of it, Clue Number 2 came some years later as the two of us stood in the bushes below baby sister’s second-story bedroom window one bone-chilling Christmas Eve, shaking jingle bells until our clattering teeth drowned out the happy sound.
Just as we were about to retire to the living room, then ablaze with the glorious glow of a burning yule log — televised in black and white — he shouted, “Ho, ho, ho! Meeeeeeeeery Christ-mas!”

“You idiot!,” I whispered, no doubt punching and/or pushing him. “Now she’s gonna know for sure it was us! Nice going, jerk.”
“Nah,” he said quite cool, calm and collected. “She’ll never know the difference.”

Turns out he was right, but that’s entirely beside the point.

That may have been the first time I’ve played Santa, sort of, but certainly not the last. I’ve got a version of that red and white suit, complete with the black vinyl boot tops, and have worn it at home, at friends’, even a Town Hall Christmas party or two. Can honestly say I’ve had a couple of supervisors sit on Santa’s lap. No, I’m not bragging.

“What? You want me to believe that you’ve been especially good this year? How much have you had to drink?”

The suit, admittedly swiped from a friend a couple of decades ago, is, sad to say, showing its years. So much so that the Mrs. warned me against wearing it to this year’s company Christmas gathering, lest she engage the services of that selfsame attorney brother in a matrimonial action. Then she made some sort of cockamamy comparison to Billy Bob Thornton in “Bad Santa.” For the life of me I don’t know what she’s getting at.

So absent being served with a writ of some kind, I’ll probably don the suit — perhaps for the last time — Friday evening and do my Santa shtick again.

What a wonderful time, unless of course the Mrs. hands me the phone and says something like, “It’s your brother, and he said it’s imperative that he talk with you. Now.”

Tell him I’m busy, and add these three words: “Naughty list and coal.”

12/21/10 8:57pm
12/21/2010 8:57 PM

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Bobby Goodale holds a bank envelope like the one he inadvertently mailed $900 in last week at the Post Office on West Main Street. The money was returned.

Just two weeks before Christmas, Bobby Goodale had an “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment involving a large sum of cash.

And just as in that classic holiday film, there’s a happy ending.

In the film, the Uncle Billy character misplaces $8,000 in cash while chatting in a bank. Truth to tell, Old Man Potter, the bank president, finds it and keeps it.

In this case, Mr. Goodale, the chairman of the Board of Directors at Peconic Bay Medical Center, misplaced a bank envelope containing nine $100 bills at the Riverhead post office. And on Wednesday, a postal employee delivered the envelope, complete with all nine bills, to Mr. Goodale’s Flanders home.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Goodale said. “Now I owe something to the post office.”

After going to the bank to cash a $900 check, Mr. Goodale had headed to the post office to mail several hundred party invitations and 10 or so bill payments. He put the cash, still in an open envelope, and the bill payments on his front seat. When he reached the post office, he picked up two boxes holding the invitations and the other envelopes and, as he discovered later, the cash.

All of it went into the mail.

About an hour later he realized what had happened and went back to the post office, only to be told that all the mail had already been shipped up-island. A clerk took his name and number, but made no promises.

“It was in an open envelope with no name on it,” Mr. Goodale said. “It could have ended up anywhere or someone could have walked off with it. I thought I had lost the whole thing.”

But the next day the post office called to say they’d found the money, and he had it back in his hands the day after that.
“What a nice Christmas present,” Mr. Goodale said. “It is a wonderful life.”

tkelly@timesreview.com