Paul's Memories

(from 2012...) Christmas holidays and family gatherings are lifetime special memories and there’s plenty to go around. Some are family favorites, others outside the household. One fond remembrance occurred at a time when our five children were anxiously awaiting Christmas. However in our group of five, Randy was a naysayer. He wrote off any idea of any Santa Claus. On Christmas morning our children followed the trail of notes to the Christmas tree where they found their presents. Somehow Santa missed Randy. There were no packages for him. He did however have pieces of coal in his hanging stocking. Excited about their gifts, the clan of young Scirias’ jumped up and down, except for a very glum Randy who sat alone on the steps. By this time my wife Franca and I thought Randy may have learned his lesson and was told Santa probably left his gifts in an upstairs storage area. Faster than you could say ‘shazam,’ Randy found his presents and joined his brothers and sisters in the fun. All’s well that ends well.

Non family experiences included selling Christmas trees. I got into the business when an Italian wholesaler on Euclid Avenue near Lakeview Cemetery convinced me to lease a lot and buy his freshly cut trees. I persuaded local plumber and water proofer Dante DiFiore to allow me to use his property in South Euclid. I used wooden pallets to stack and spike trees. At the onset, I didn’t know the difference between a Balsam, Scotch pine, Fraser or any tree. They were all Christmas trees. It was never a hard sell to buyers. The customer came to the lot looking to buy a tree and if they were with children, the sell was even easier. All that was needed was to spot the right tree and haggle over the price. Quickly I had the hang of it but I could never understand why my inventory count never jibed with the sales. It didn’t take a Colombo to figure out that after closing time, thieves came through a wooded area next door and helped themselves. A year later, the weather was so warm, I had to wet down trees to keep the needles from going dry and falling off. In fact, one lady customer returned to the lot complaining that all the needles fell off as she dragged the tree up the stairs. I replaced it with any tree she wanted.

I spent a couple of enjoyable seasons at the YMCA property in Lyndhurst on Mayfield Road. The parking lot was gigantic and my sons, Scott, Randy and friends went to Pennsylvania to cut trees and created a gigantic lighted dreamland forest. The Plain Dealer got wind of a former television/radio news investigator who was hawking trees. Yet they focused on the angle that this Ohio State University alum gave discounts to Buckeye fans. Needless to say those with allegiance to that team up north (Michigan) paid the full price.

Christmas is a grand time to share the wondrous celebration of faith, peace and love.Count your blessings. To one and all, Buon Natale.