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Sixty-Something: An Unusual Season’s Greetings

T.J. Clemente

What I do know is this: it is the holiday season and Christmas time. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

These are unusual times. Lifelong traditions are being challenged in the name of prudent safety. Gatherings are unsafe, schools have hourly safety concerns. Many offices remain closed, almost no restaurant is operating normally - if operating at all, not even McDonald's. The unanswerable question of: is this state of affairs temporary or is this the beginning of a new frightful normal remains a who knows? However, what I do know is this: it is the holiday season and Christmas time.

The last few weeks, as in fact most of this year, I have made many interviews calls for this website, Hamptons.com. Many to committed people doing amazingly good deeds. Most of the deeds are to help the less fortunate, which is a growing phenomenon - especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Hamptons, at this very moment, it is the best of times and the worst of times for many living out here at this same time. Meals and food being distributed to those in need in most cases has tripled what they were last year. Home prices across the board east of the Shinnecock Canal have increased in value significantly, for some even by $500,000 or more. That doesn't help those on the other side who are working folks and are struggling to pay their rent because their job hours have been cut back or the "tips" they live on are not happening, not to mention those who have been let go.

The Christmas holiday time is a traditional season of giving. This season, there is a greater need to give than others, and amazingly the wonderful community on the East End of Long Island - called the Hamptons as well as the North Fork - have stepped up and have given more than ever this year for those in need. However, more needs to be done because every day more are in need as things seem to be not getting back to the old traditional normal.

I usually tell a little story in each column about my experiences. This time I am going to tell one about the committed folks who have manned the food pantries, not just now but always. The ones who make the food bags, who collect the cans, boxes, and cartons of food from the amazing souls who donate. I am talking about the folks who donate their free time to make a difference on a one-to-one basis. The folks who show up while others can't or won't. I dedicate this column to those who get up early on days off to drive to churches and other locations to give their personal time to help others. Who care enough to get involved, be involved, stay involved. They are the angels, they are the good neighbors, they are the East End.

There are political differences in these polarizing times. But, what I have proudly personally experienced is there is also a bond of community. I have watched and reported on people who are in really bad situations, whether it be cancer, fires, floods, hurricanes, power outages, et cetera. I have witnessed neighbors stepping in and helping in so many different ways. I have teared up many times in pride witnessing some of this kindness. Helping and giving is the one thing we all can do, not only at Christmas time, but all year-round. This is our community. These are our neighbors and we are all in this together. Season's Greetings!

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