I hope you had a happy, healthy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and enjoyed family and friends and maybe even started new traditions.  Maybe you volunteered by distributing presents to seniors at nursing homes or at hospitals in the pediatric units or served dinner at a community kitchen.  A group of my friends, who sing carols at Silver Lake Nursing Home each year, returned once again last Saturday.  Instead of singing only in the dining room, we visited the day room on each floor and were able to engage the residents in sing alongs.  I felt like we touched each resident, but, in reality, we were touched when many smiled, loudly sang along and thanked us when we left.  It took all I had to hold back the tears.  

To keep the holiday spirit in your heart for a little time longer, please, please, please visit the DiMartino Christmas Village display on 107 Sharrotts Rd. (between Bloomingdale Rd. and Arthur Kill Rd.) from now until 1/4/15 from 5-11 p.m.  Joe DiMartino raises money for the Children's Cancer Center at SIUH by spreading the Joy of Christmas at his home in this elaborately displayed and interactive village.  It is like nothing you have ever experienced.  Admission is free, but there is donation box if you feel generous or want to support a noble cause.  I met Mr. DiMartino on Christmas Eve and thanked him for making me and my family very happy.

Have you visited the Staten Island Artists Building at 7 Wave St., Stapleton?  This weekend, you can view “Illuminations” featuring a series of graphic designer Marcus Allen’s latest works combining illustration and photography.  If you are an artist or craftsman, be a part of this unique artists’ market on Staten Island.  Call 917-560-5439 or email SIartistbuilding@aol.com for information. 

The opening reception of  The National Lighthouse Museum, 5D Bay St. Landing Greenway (behind St. George Post Office), will be Saturday, 2/7/15 from 1-5. The First National Juried Photography Show for the Museum, in association with the Creative Photographers Guild, will be held on the same day.  Deadline for submissions is 1/11/15.  Exhibition dates are 2/7 through 3/7.  Hours are Wednesday, 10-4, Saturday & Sunday 1-5.  For information about submissions, email info@lighthousemuseum.org or call 855-656-7469.

This is the last weekend to view Yola Monakhow Stockton’s “Fields of Inquiry” exhibit at Alice Austen House Museum.  The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11-5; it will be closed 12/31 and 1/1 for the holidays.  If you have never visited Alice Austen’s lovely home, Clear Comfort, situated at 2 Hylan Blvd. overlooking the Narrows, this is as good a time as ever to do so.

I try to mention cat and dog adoptions every couple of weeks.  Please note that every day, seven days a week, you can visit Animal Care & Control of NYC, 3139 Veterans Rd., West in Charleston for cat and dog adoptions.  Cat adoptions can also be made at Staten Island Council for Animal Welfare at Petsmart, 1520 Forest Ave., Port Richmond, Pet Lovers United Together as One Rescue of Richmond County, Merry Mutts Play and Stay, 654A Sharrotts Rd., Charleston and Staten Island Hope Rescue at PETCO, 2795 Richmond Ave., New Springville. 

On Saturday, 12/27, 10 a.m., welcome winter with a hike along the green and blue trails of Clay Pit Pond State Park, 2351 Veteran’s Road West, Charleston.  Call 718-605-3970 x 201 for info and registration. 

On 12/29, the St. George Theatre, 35 Hyatt St., will present “Frosty the Snowman”, a family friendly musical for children ages 3 and up.  For tickets, call 718-442-2900 during box office hours or Ticketmaster 800-745-3000.

On New Year’s Day, 1/1/15 at noon, the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and National Recreation and Park Association will host a healthy start to the New Year.  Meet in the parking lot at Great Kills Park, Hylan Blvd. at Buffalo St. The group will observe wintering birds and dormant grasses while discussing ideas and concerns for the year ahead.  After a ½ mile walk to Crooke’s Point, the group will share treats and tales in celebration of the New Year.  The walk will then continue to the harbor.  Call 718-873-4291 or 718-313-8591 for information.

The New Year is a great time to make resolutions. We all do it, but how many of us actually follow through?  I resolve to learn more about Staten Island and the many things it has to offer. It is not necessary to escape to Manhattan for culture, entertainment, nature, sports.  Staten Island has it all!  If you read my Weekend Events blog, and try to add a different activity to your spare time, you will become a part of this beautiful Island that I call home.  
Enjoy your New Year’s festivities, be safe on the roads and be kind to your family, neighbors and strangers. Try to pass on a smile to everyone you meet.  If you would like to share your comments, call me at 646-258-9696, write me below or at joan.coogan@gmail.com

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