Christmas in Queens is a very special holiday celebrated by homegrown Americans and residents from many parts of the world who leave their imprint on the traditions.
Distinctions between Christians and non-Christians can become blurred in events held to bring joy to disadvantaged children or to feed struggling members of the community whatever their religion.
Elected officials of many backgrounds stage toy drives to make Christmas — often paired with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah – a special time for the poorest of kids to receive a gift of their own.
With one in six children in Queens classified as hungry by Hunger Free America, toys and the jolly man in a red suit can become an unbearable reminder for some parents of what they can’t provide for their offspring.
Community groups, religious institutions and public officials make a concerted effort to step into the gap and fill those empty holiday boxes with something special for our youngest residents.
Santa swept into Hangar 19 at Kennedy Airport earlier this month to celebrate Christmas with nearly 4,000 disabled youngsters, who were thrilled to be inside JFK in the presence of St. Nicholas. Port Authority personnel, the JFK police command and community mayors all turned out to give Santa a hand – not exactly your storybook elves but a formidable force who made sure the kids had a memorable time.
In Bayside a holiday party was held recently for young patients at the St. Mary’s Healthcare System, where the FDNY, NYPD and New York Mets are among the many regular volunteers and donors.
The Allen AME Cathedral on Merrick Boulevard distributed food and clothing to more than 1,000 underprivileged families this week at an annual extravaganza attended by rapper LL Cool J..
And the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce had a message for the less fortunate — “Immigrants and Refugees are Welcome Here” — as it prepared to serve more than 300 free meals this Sunday at St. George’s Church downtown.
Restaurateurs Danny Lye and Ivy Zheng from Danny’s Steakhouse & Oyster Bar were to do the culinary honors.
On the home front traditions can be stretched. A Jewish uncle agrees to play Santa after his sister married an Italian and her children wanted to meet Mr. Claus. An observant Muslim family sits down to dinner on Christmas Day and just happens to admit there might be a present or two on the table.
Such is the way of Queens, the great melting pot, where Christmas is shared with all regardless of their origins.