Sunday, December 25, 2011

Childhood Christmas Memories

Christmas means so many things to so many people. My Christmas memories are warm and idyllic, and I thank my parents for that.

My father really enjoyed the season. Papa Testa made the holiday special and meaningful to me as a child. I remember we lived in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts,  and we did not have a fireplace. Every year my father would assemble the faux fireplace. My father insisted  that Santa would be able to visit us with this makeshift fireplace. My mother would assist me in writing a letter to Santa Claus letting him know that I was "a good boy", and in the letter there would be a short list of Christmas wishes....

(Somerville, MA mid 1960's)

Every Christmas eve my mother would bake sugar cookies, The shapes were always the same: Christmas tree, bell and star. The frosting was white and there was always sprinkles of red and green. The cookies were always left out the coffee table near the Christmas tree with a glass of milk AND, a carrot for Rudolph.

Every Christmas morning my father would be first to awake and he would always say "Good bye Santa Claus, Good bye Santa" We would rush down the stairs, amazed that we missed him. Upon coming down the stairs, I was always in awe to see how the living room was transformed into a magical world of toys and presents. Christmas morning was spent opening presents, as my parents sipped their coffee and watched the smiles on their children grow wide.

(Christmas Card from 1963)

As I got older, I realized that Christmas is not about presents, or what you have or what you don't have, but rather its a feeling. A feeling of happiness and joy. When I sit back  now and think of my parents, I think of the joy my father had in shopping for presents. His joy in decorating the Christmas tree with the family while "The Chipmunks" Christmas album played on the hifi. And the joy he would get "waving" bye to Santa Claus, knowing his children would wake up, thinking they had just missed the jolly man in the red suit...

My father was what you call a "good guy". He was good father, husband and person. During the holidays these traits truly shined. My father worked for the Boston Globe  Newspaper. One of the Globe's charities was Globe Santa, which provided toys to needy children in New England. My dad was involved in this charity. He believed in the magic of Christmas and the joy that spread from this magic. I truly miss my father during this time of year and I am happy he gave me the gift of joy. That is the gift I carry with me everyday. This gift will never go out of style and is non-returnable. Thank you, Papa!

(me, in my new velour shirt, which was the rage in the Italian-Americans in the 1960's. My father, and I  at my Aunt Santa's house-Yes, that is correct, I had an aunt named: Santa....).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas la nochebuena...

Fue la Nochebuena all through the house,
not a creature was stirring not even los perros.
The stockings were hung by the palms with care,
in hopes that Papa Noel would soon be there.

I was nestled in my chaise by the pool, and ready for a swim,
as visions of helado danced in my head.
When all of sudden I sprang from my chair;
to the sight of eight tiny geckos dancing mid-air.

I rubbed my eyes and thought it was a tropical dream,
to see Papa Noel  appear in a palm tree.
He was dressed for surfing from head to toe
and carried a big sack that really glowed.

His face was happy and his beard was nicely trimmed;
his body a little round, which  made me look extra thin.
He glanced at me and nodded his cabeza,
as he danced around the patio y la piscina.

Without warning, he lifted his hand into the sack,
and filled the stockings with dulces y regalos rather fast!

And then he snapped his fingers and said:
Happy Christmas and Feliz Navidad to all, and to all a good night, ciao!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Common Good

Unless we work for the Common Good, there won't be any...

Public beaches,  parks, libraries and public pools are some of the simple things that I enjoy.  In my lifetime these attractions have always been part of "my community".  I have always taken advantage of these public "institutions" and never have taken them for granted. These places provide recreation, entertainment and enjoyment for the public good.

During these times of cutbacks, and "slash and burn" tax anger, we need to re-think the rolls that these places provide for the common good of the community.

As a child my parents instilled in me the importance of taking advantage of these attractions. Virtually everyday I am on the beach, Marginal Way, in a library or at a public pool. I can not imagine life without these great American treasures.

Many of these public treasures are in "plain view" and many do not see them every day. Many communities have public tennis courts, baseball fields, and other recreation venues. As a public we need to see beyond the grind of our daily lives and realize  the importance that these places provide for the common good.

So many people are angry with Wall Street and the one percent. Instead of occupying Wall Street, lets "occupy" beaches, parks, pools and libraries. Lets use these  institutions before we loose them. Taking advantage of public beaches, parks is for the Common Good.