A Look Back: Christmastime

Angie Spitalieri Ianiro, Publisher Angie Spitalieri Ianiro, Publisher

The Christmas Season is upon us.  Soon it will be time to trim your Christmas tree, hang your decorations and most importantly, spend time with those you love. In these unusual times Christmas is about family and the children. I can remember getting so excited to see my cousins during the holidays at my grandparents’ home in Parma. It was some of my best memories. Now that my nieces and nephews are here and my cousins all have children, Christmas is even more special. I look forward to seeing Nicholas, Christopher, Celia, Rocco, Gemma, Lola, Domenico, Santino, and Angelo’s eyes as they tear into that paper on Christmas morning. I feel so fortunate to have so many family and friends in my life and wish all of you the best Christmas season. Family is precious and you don’t want to miss the most important memories this season has to offer. On behalf of our staff at La Gazzetta we wish you all the best Christmas. Enjoy this past piece from the late Paul Sciria.

Christmastime was always celebrated in my maternal grandma’s house as my paternal grandparents lived in Italy. Nonna in Cleveland had the Christmas tree and the big dinner in the basement of her bungalow, which was decked out with a larger kitchen than she had upstairs. Downstairs had everything: stove, ice box, fruit bin, wine cellar, and a long table and chairs resting on a homemade wooden floor. Nonna and mom did the cooking. My aunts set the table and, after dinner, did the dishes and clean-up. Nonno and my uncles played cards, namely briscola or tonk. The ladies later played bingo. 

Christmas gifts for my sister, Maggie, and I were mostly clothes, but she received a new doll every year. She still has the collection that includes Queen Elizabeth, Deanna Durbin and Shirley Temple. Maggie was also gifted an Underwood Typewriter which she still has; she doesn’t toss anything away. A cousin of ours would use her typewriter box as a suitcase when he occasionally left town. Other than clothes and some money, I received sports-related gifts like bats and balls and, on one occasion, boxing gloves. Another Christmas we were given a microphone, speakers and floodlights and my sister and I sang up a storm and recorded our so-called music. As I mentioned, she tosses nothing and still has those recordings. I don’t remember receiving toys other than a box of lead soldiers that my mother gave away because I was allergic to lead. I did get a Charlie McCarthy dummy, but I was no ventriloquist and that also disappeared. 

Our New Year celebration mirrored Christmas, minus the gifts. Again, la famiglia enjoyed feasting, card playing and creating a lot of noise celebrating. At midnight, nonno and my uncles went outside and fired a gun in the air. Although time changes everything, the memories will live forever.