With Santa’s sleigh out delivering presents to good girls and boys, we asked Long Islanders to share the best gifts they’ve ever gotten for Christmas.
Carlos Jimenez, 32, of East Meadow
Jimenez got the surprise of his life at age 14, when his parents pulled him out of school for a special trip.
“My family from the United States planned a trip to visit our whole family in Colombia for a month,” he says. “We got to experience the different culture and style of living out there. It was beautiful; I loved it.”
Camille Gidich, 34, of Syosset
Gidich and her husband, Jacob, got a present by way of news on Christmas Day 2011.
“My best Christmas gift ever was when we found out we were pregnant with our daughter MacKenzie,” she recalls. “We had been trying and said we’d wait until Christmas Day to take our test, and it ended up being positive.”
Today these college sweethearts, who met at Hofstra University, are the parents of two girls, Mackenzie, 5, and Cozette, 3.
Tom Hickey, 33, of Farmingdale
After serving six years in the Army (and currently in the reserves), Hickey’s life changed forever last December.
“I met my 6-month-old daughter, Anna Mae, for the first time when I came home from Baghdad, Iraq. It was the best Christmas I’ve ever had, by far,” he says. “I only saw her through Skype, but I finally got to hold her in the airport.”
Kate Morea, 7, of Oyster Bay
Last Christmas Eve, Kate was all aglow when her aunt delivered a coveted gift.
“I got my Bitty Baby,” Kate says. “Her name is Lulu. I take care of her by feeding her and changing her clothes. She has a baby crib, a rattle and a blanket.”
Every night, Kate reads her a story and puts her Bitty Baby to bed just before she goes to sleep. Her little sister, Emily, 4, also got one that she calls Lyla.
Erica Allocca, 36, of Bethpage
The Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the ’80s consumed Allocca, who recalls a particular amenity she received for her doll at Christmas.
“When I was 5 years old, I got the Cabbage Patch cradle for my Cabbage Patch doll, Lindsey,” she says. “My grandfather put it together for me that morning. My brother, sister and I got our dolls that summer. But I was the only one who got the cradle.”
Taking care of Lindsey was training for her role today as a mom to 5-year-old twins Giovanni and Sofia and 8-month-old Frank Jr., who is celebrating his first Christmas.
Lujeana Damour, 25, of Wheatley Heights
For Damour, Christmas is more about giving than receiving, so her favorite gift is one she gave her father in 2015 with the help of her mother and uncle.
“I gave my dad a Movado watch,” she says. “We turned off all the clocks in the house and we kept saying, ‘What time is it?’ He saw that the clocks weren’t plugged in, then he looked at his arm and he had to do a double take because we put the watch on him while he was sleeping.”
Kloe Cho, 6, of Hicksville
Kloe wanted a real puppy but she couldn’t have one, so a certain early Christmas gift hit the spot this year.
“I got a Puppy in My Pocket,” she says with a twinkle in her eye. “It’s a little puppy that goes in my pocket. I can take him wherever I go.”
Terrilyn Delnick, 64, of Franklin Square
In 2006, Delnick was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Her only child, Marilla Liff, 36, was her support system and motivator. Her wish was to see her daughter get married, then to have a grandchild. On Dec. 7, that wish was fully realized.
“Here I am, 11 years later, and I got to see my daughter get married and see this beautiful boy, Kieran William, be born,” she says. “This was a Christmas present beyond belief. I’m just over the moon. I couldn’t imagine a better gift.”