Its 7AM on Christmas day and now I will see what gifts Santa (Ha, Ha, Ha,) put under the tree for me. I was up so late on Christmas Eve I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I don’t remember anything after we got home from midnight mass. I must have fallen asleep because all I remember is the noise in the background of people laughing, yelling and just having fun. Santa must have come to our house to put presents under the tree when I was sound asleep, I didn’t see him or hear him. I think that I’m the only one awake this morning, that’s good news. This way I can check all the presents and try to figure out which ones are from my Sears Wish Book list. The rule in our house is that we can’t open any gifts that until everyone is awake. So I’ll just have to use my ex-ray vision to see through the Christmas wrapping paper to know what’s in the package. I that doesn’t work I go to plan “B” and feel the box and shake it a little. Oh well, I do everything I can and I still don’t know what’s in the gift box.
It’s not easy; I’ll just have to wait for everyone to wake up. I can help to move things along by making a little noise too. Nothing is working for me so I sit on the floor looking at our beautiful Christmas tree and wait, and wait some more. It’s after nine in the morning and I think I hear my mother moving. She walks out of the bedroom, gives me a smile and walks into the kitchen to make coffee. I say to myself, “Ma, come on Ma, I can’t wait any longer. You’re taking forever to make coffee.” Then I see my sister and my father come on the room. They sit on chairs next to me waiting for my mother to join us. Its nine thirty and I’m going to jump out of my skin if we don’t open our gifts soon. My Mom comes out of the kitchen, yeah, everyone’s here. My sister is assigned the job of reading the names on each gift and passing them out. I got four gift boxes and it takes me all of three minutes to open them. I’m not looking at anyone else because I’m not interested in what they got for Christmas. Now I sit back to see how I did this year. Let’s see, a Chemistry set, a View Master, an Erector set and the greatest prize of all a set of Lionel Trains. Wow, I must have been really good this year; it looks like I didn’t make Santa’s shit list.
My Mom and Dad were looking at me the whole time and smiling to see how happy I am with all my gifts. I turn and look up at them, I get up and hug and kiss them because I know how hard it is for them to put the money together for these expensive gifts they bought me for Christmas. I put aside the Chemistry set, the Erector set because I will need Roger the Professor to help me and teach me how to use them. I know how to use the View Master and I put it aside too. This way I can work on assembling the greatest prize of all, my new Lionel Train set. I took me well over an hour to read the instructions and put the train tracks around our beautiful Christmas tree. Everything is hooked up and I place the train engine and four cars on the train tracks. I give it power and there it goes, chugging along around the Christmas tree. I’m the happiest kid in the world seeing the train running and hearing the train whistle blowing. It’s not just the stuff I got for Christmas that’s making me happy; its knowing how much my family loves me. What a feeling. My Mom goes back in the kitchen to make another meal for friends coming over for dinner this afternoon.
My sister is helping her clean and prepare the Chestnuts. My Mom put the meat in the oven and she starts frying her wine dough ball for dessert. I love her dough balls that she calls Struffoli. After she fries them and when they cool off she melts sugar with butter and pours it all over the Struffoli, then she puts honey and rainbow sprinkles on them. Not only do they look good they taste great and it’s hard to stop eating them. Next thing I know Roger the Professor is standing over me looking at the stuff I got and says, “Wow, you did good this year. You are one lucky dude.” Before I could say anything he says, “Yeah, yeah, don’t worry, I’ll work with you on the Erector set and the Chemistry set. I see that you put those extra price labels to good use in decorating the Christmas tree. I was wondering where they went.” He wishes my parents a Merry Christmas and leaves. With all the shit Roger gives me I can’t get mad at him because he’s like a big brother to me. I stop playing with my train set and get dress to go out and see how my friends made out for Christmas. When I go out the neighborhood is like a ghost town. All the stores are closed for the holiday and all the kids must be indoors playing with their new stuff.
I figure I’ll go visit Jimmy Pizza since his family is coming over to my house later for Christmas dinner. I walk over to his building and I knock on his door. No one answers, so I knock again and I hear people moving around in his apartment. The door opens a crack and it’s Rosie, Jimmy’s Mom, she looks at me and says, “Huh, Pepino, what time is it? We’re just getting up. Please wait out in the hall for a few minutes for us to get dressed. Okay?” She shut the door and I said to myself, Whoa, I didn’t think that anybody would be sleeping this late. A couple of minutes went by and the door opens again and this time its jimmy who says, “What in the hell are you doing here? How late is it? Okay you’re here, come in, come in.” I went in and I sat near the Christmas tree with jimmy. His little brother, Tommy, just stood there on his scooter looking up at the tree. The poor kid didn’t know what to make of all the gifts that were under the tree. Jimmy calls out, “Hey Tommy, look at what Santa brought you.” It didn’t take long for him to get the message. Then everyone in Jimmy’s family came in and started tearing the Christmas paper off the presents. Jimmy got a new pair of Roller Skates, a Record player and the greatest prize of all; he got a Red Ryder BB Gun.
Jimmy went out of his mind when he saw the BB gun. He never thought he would get one for Christmas. Whoa, I thought I got great gifts, but a BB gun, how can you top that. We talked for a while then I wished his parents a Merry Christmas and I went home. When I got there my Mom and sister are cooking up a storm. Everybody started to come over and the dinner table was already full of food. Wow everything looked so good. It’s such a happy time of the year, Merry Christmas. A couple of days went by, we played with our new toys and Roger helped me put together a Crain with my Erector set. Roger is so smart; I’m learning a lot of things from him. School is out and our time off is melting away. There is still a lot of snow on the ground left over from the great Blizzard of 48 and our gang is enjoying every minute of it.
After Christmas not everyone but some people start to put their Christmas trees out on the side walk. We collect the dry trees and pile them in the vacant lot on Columbia Street. We’re hoping to get fifty trees together for the big New Year celebration. We don’t have much time because the New Year celebration is here at midnight tonight. Our gang combs the neighborhood to find as many trees as possible. We’re all excited because at midnight we get our noise makers, pots and pans together and stand ready to make as much noise as we can. We’re all waiting listening for the radio announcer to yell out “Happy New Year” and everybody, adults, kids, grandparents, friends and whom ever to start screaming and celebrating the new year. “It’s 1949.” We’ve been banging away for fifteen minutes or more when someone gives us the signals to form a circle around the big pile of dried up trees we put in the vacant lot on Columbia Street. Then there’s a countdown, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. A man runs over and puts a torch into the base of the trees then you hear a big whish and a firestorm explodes. The trees are so dry and burn so fast that it’s over in about ten seconds. Wow, what a sight there is nothing like it. You get a rush of energy from just looking at it. Another year has gone by and Pepino has grown up so much he feels and looks older.
The End…………….Epilogue To Follow……….