Thursday, December 16, 2010
A CHRISTMAS STORY BY LaNORMA
LaNORMA WITH SANTA IN SANTA CRUZ, CA. (circa 1946)
How many of you Italo-Americans remember your first time seeing Sani Closi (Santa Claus).
I remember so well: I was 6 years old and had just started First Grade at Laurel School. I did not speak English very well. I think I knew about 10 words. As the photo above shows I had just gotten glasses (for a crossed eye) when I first met Santa at Woolworth's on Pacific Avenue (next to JJ Newberrys.)
I sat on his lap and then he asked me what I wanted for Christmas – I was so excited.
I said, “Voglio un caretino rosso” (I want a little red wagon).
Santa said, “A what?”
According to my Mom, (Diana Dinelli), my face got as red as Santa's suit. I remember thinking, “Horrors – Santa Claus doesn’t speak Italian or understand it either!"
I did not know how to say "a red wagon" in English…..so I blurted out one of the few words I knew – “ dolly”. Of course that is not what I really wanted – I so wanted that wagon!
In reminiscing about Christmas years past with Ivano, we recalled how different it was years ago from today. At least we thought so. Still it was a magical time and I remember going to sleep after we had bought a Christmas tree. About 10 o’clock that night my parents woke me up and said, “Come see -Santa Claus was here and he helped us put up the tree”?
With a look of disbelief on my face I asked, "You could understand him?"
They said, "Oh yes. He was a nice Santa and he spoke Italian very well . In fact he told us to tell you to be a good little girl."
"Where is he now?" I asked.
"Oh", my mother answered, "he had to get going so he could help some other people put up their trees".
I was disappointed of course, but I could understand that. Besides the room was awesome with the lights on the tree in the dark and the Nativity scene under the tree.
"Well", I thought, "even if he didn't understand me when I saw him, it certainly was nice of him to come by and help my parents put up the tree. And he learned Italian so fast."
That was the magic of Christmas for a small child.
Still, I was disappointed that he didn't wake me up and I never did get the red wagon. But, I did get a "Dolly". All in all it was a good Christmas and I forgave Santa for not understanding my Italian.
Other memories of Christmas Past:
Christmas Eve was spent at the Neri’s on DuFour St (in Santa Cruz), with my Aunt and Uncle and Cousin.
Christmas Day was spent with a huge dinner in the cookhouse at the Pietro Bargiacchi’s. So many of us were there and we had turkey and so many wonderful things to eat including ( you guessed it) home made ravioli made by Ida Bargiacchi with some help from Zia Elvira and Emma Bargiacchi.
Everyone – BUON NATALE and Buon Anno Novo – many blessings for the New Yea 2011!
As Ivano always says "Sempre Avanti."
Norma Dinelli Wilson
AND LEN SAYS:
I just read Norma's Christmas story and thought you might be interested in reading about the day I learned that Santa Claus is not a real person.
It's a piece I wrote three years ago for a web site called The Columnists. The Columnists site, as I may have informed you previously, is made up mostly of retired newspaper people. Ron Miller, a 1956 Santa Cruz High grad and a Pulitzer Prize nominee when he worked for the San Jose Mercury, was one of the site's founders and administers it. Another columnist you probably know is Chuck McFadden, from your SCHS Class of 1955 and a former reporter for the Associated Press. All three of us were on the SCHS Trident student newspaper.
My 2007 piece, titled "Learning The Awful Truth About Santa Claus," is at:
Ron and Chuck also have numerous Christmas stories on the web site.
-- Len Klempnauer - SCHS Class of '54
P.S. The Columnists annual Christmas edition this year will be on the web on Dec. 20.
AND IVANO SAYS: THANKS LaNORMA AND LEN. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY AND HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
LaNorma and the "Old Rancere"