Earlier this month my father came to me in a vivid dream. I woke up suddenly and somehow felt his presence around me and then, Il Ponte came to mind as though he was communicating to me. Since my father is no longer with us, I believe this was his clever way of encouraging me to send Christmas wishes to his paesani throughout the world in this forum.
Coincidentally, that next morning, I received a message from Gianmario Ruocco inviting me to contribute an article for the December 2021 edition of Il Ponte blog.
My dad was always very busy leading up to this time of year. It was not unusual to find him so focused and engaged with passion in writing, that he hardly had time to chat on the phone or even to prepare meals for himself. In fact, he once told us that he ate taralli e formaggio for several days because he was so absorbed in writing his giornalino.
Christmas was an especially important and joyful time of year for him. The church celebrations, choir rehearsals, writing Christmas cards to family and friends and visiting loved ones, were his ways of sharing and spreading the spirit of Christmas with everyone.
He also loved decorating the house for Christmas. My parents home was beautifully adorned with lights, wreaths and garlands to celebrate this festive season. The Nativity scene or “Presepe” under our Christmas tree, was transformed over the years from a simple manger to an elaborate mountainous snowy village of homes and churches including dozens of figurines perfectly positioned to welcome and celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.
We always attended the solemn Christmas midnight mass at which my father directed the choir singing beautiful traditional Christmas songs. Then early in the morning, we would awaken to the music of Mary’s Boy Child (Boney M) played on the stereo. Our family would eagerly gather around the tree to open our presents as this song continued to play all morning long, while delicious scents filled the air in our loving home as mom prepared the festive meal.
Here is an excerpt from one of my father’s earlier Messaggi Natalizi (Il Ponte-Dicembre 1996) describing his wonderful memories of Christmas during his youth. I hope it resonates with some of you.
“Rivedo i natali dell’infanzia. La neve, le campane, il suono dell’organo, le melodie della corale, l’odore dell’incenso e della cera che componevano nella mia mente una sinfonia fiabesca che mi trasportava in un mondo immaginario e meraviglioso. Ripenso al bimbo che deve nascere, all’uomo che sarà…a quest’ uomo che ebbe per missione di cambiare il mondo avendo come arme la parola e l’esempio. Quest’ uomo che ci disse di amarci come lui ci ha amati.”
“Cari amici, in occasione di queste feste natalizie, auguro anche a voi di sentirvi più sereni, più felici, più buoni…felice Natale e un anno nuovo pieno di salute, prosperità e ogni felicita.” (Costanzo Colantonio – Dicembre 1996).
My wish is that everyone is blessed with equally wonderful traditions and beautiful, warm memories of Christmas with their families and loved ones. Merry Christmas to all and may God Bless you and your families and keep you safe and well!
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