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CHRISTMAS MAGIC: Just for the young?

Christmas was magic for me when I was a kid, and the reason has nothing to do with Harleys. This phenomenon predated my obsession with motorcycles by two decades, and had to do more with where I grew up.

I grew up in my Christmas Village.

My Christmas Village consisted of my town—okay, so it was my neighborhood—of Jackson Heights, in Queens, New York. But make no mistake about it—neighborhoods in Queens were perceived by its residents, as small towns with their own autonomy and individualistic charms, that set them apart from neighboring “towns.” Being from Jackson Heights, whenever I visited Steinway Street in neighboring Astoria—it felt to me like I was visiting a whole other town. A town that was familiar, yet slightly less close to my core as a Jackson Heightser.

My town of Jackson Heights took on a mythical, magical quality to it at Christmas. With Northern Boulevard—also known as New York State Route 25A—covered in a silent and majestic coat of pure, driven snow, hushing the tires of cars driving on Northern Boulevard, to a “Shee…shee…shee…” as the bias ply tires pushed snow aside, Jackson Heights became magical. It became my Christmas Village. One could easily picture Santa and his sleigh, being pulled by powerful reinder, shooshing down Northern Boulevard through the snow.

The effect was especially vivid at night, when the street lamps illuminating the boulevard, cast a blue tint on the white snow. The houses on adjacent streets in those days, were gloriously and abundantly decorated with Christmas lights, more so than now.

Of course, youth played a big part in this perception of Jackson Heights as a Christmas Village. That whole secular/Santa Claus/presents on Christmas morning thing, was big to me as a kid. Watching movies on Christmas Eve, like “Silent Night”—that was special to me as a kid.

My parents fed into the Santa thing, big time. I used to draw pictures of Santa’s sleigh, with reindeer, with a little note for Santa, and yes, I did leave cookies for Santa.

The beginning of the end, began with Food Fair, which was our local supermarket at Northern Boulevard and 86th Street. That Food fair, is now a Rite Aid.

BEGINNING OF THE END: The Rite Aid that was Food Fair.

It was typical in the 1950s, for supermarkets to sell encyclopedias. When I was about 8 or 9, my parents bought me an encyclopedia from the Food Fair in Jackson Heights. Of particular interest to me, was the Santa Claus section.

When I read that Santa was a mythical figure, and that he didn’t exist, I went straight to my parents with the evidence. Man, the jig was up! Admittedly, I had my childish suspicions up to that time, but here was hard evidence!

Some of the Magic was wearing off of Christmas, starting with that encyclopedic revelation. However, those wonderful memories of Jackson Heights as my Christmas Village, remains vivid in my mind. And isn’t Christmas very much about good memories?

IT’S STILL MAGIC: Remember your Christmas Village.

I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and hope that you have treasured memories, of your Christmas Village! Later.




  1. Tim M. Says:

    Growing up in a house with 6 kids it got pretty wild around the Christmas tree . A torn wrapping paper extravaganza . One of my most vintage memories (on the bad side ) was of my brother Ronny ,in a moment of pure insanity , opened up EVERYONE’S presents BEFORE they woke up ! That went over like a wet fart in Church and I’m sure , my parents especially , wanted to wring his 10 yr. old neck. Yeah laugh about it now , but then….
    On the good side is looking at all the Christmas lights at night on the tree with the smell of imagined pine (fake trees growing up , real ones now ) with an eggnog in my hand .
    lots of relatives back then . My father was the last of 8 children and my mother the middle child of 5 kids. All those aunts and uncles are gone now and the remaining families are much smaller and spread out more . I kinda feel sorry for my kids growing up in such a small extended family but I’m trying to make it what I can for them.
    I know I’m not over on F.B. but I know this message will find it’s way over to them.
    Merry Christmas fellow goons , have a glass of Purple Eggnog on me..

    Tim ( a.k.a-47str8leg)


      Hey Tim, that was a wonderful message to the Goons, and a really—but at the time—funny story, about Ronny opening all of you guys’ presents! Merry Christmas, 47STR8LEG!

  2. Michael Zaputil Says:

    Good ta hear from ya Tim!

  3. Tim Leap Says:

    Great piece , Scott . I think you found what Christmas really is . It’s all in how we remember those early Christmas days . Those are what we try to recapture but never can . We take comfort in those memories . Thanks for reminding me that we all do the same journey back to those times at this time of year .

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