Our dad taught us early on that the Godfather and Daddy Warbucks have a lot in common.
White-haired and handsome, my father was a bookie with organized crime connections. Though several grand juries had indicted him, and the FBI had raided our home a number of times, according to us kids, federal agents were the real evil. It’s true, Daddy had a door whose top had been hollowed out and lined with tin—the same size needed to hold the folded papers on which he recorded in carefully drawn columns the bets his clients had called in, who had placed how much on which games. But this didn’t concern us much. Our lives revolved more around Lego and Lincoln Logs than search warrants and wiretaps.
Still, come December, Dad made up for these legal liabilities, for what my siblings and I imagined were minor offences.
Sure, he gave gifts throughout the year—World Series tickets to my sister when she turned ten, for example.
But Christmas morning was Daddy’s center stage. There, with one wardrobe adjustment, he morphed, red-suited, into wise guy among wise men. A Savior who Jesus-ed us with gifts and trips, he would have outfitted himself in elf couture, if that’s what the occasion called for. I’m convinced of it. He was Superman in a Santa suit—at least in our minds.
You see, my father didn’t stuff our stockings with apples and oranges, underwear and socks, but with destination gifts and vacation elation—one year Mexico—another, a Caribbean cruise. He made sure our stockings bulged bigger and sagged deeper than any others in the neighborhood, in all of Pittsburgh, for that matter.
One Christmas morning I remember, he’d already showered us with Barbie dolls and Tonka trucks, GI Joes and Easy Bake Ovens. But pj-ed and pony-tailed in a roomful of presents, we knew the best was yet to come. It was time for Daddy’s annual encore, his curtain call, if you will. He’d lined the four of us up, oldest to youngest, on an orange couch in the living room, our stocking feet twisting, little fingers twitching—so hard to sit still—so much anticipation . . . .
To read more of my essay in the Huffington Post, click here.
In the comments below, please tell me about your favorite holiday memory. And if you’re able, I’d love you to leave me a comment at the Huffington Post, as well. I’m not greedy or anything!
Happy Holidays, everyone. Thanks so much for reading my blog this year and sharing in our new adventures in Ecuador. You are dear to me.
With love and hugs,