By Steve Siciliano
When I was very young I was afraid of the dark. Now, over fifty years later, I must admit that I can’t precisely remember why. Most likely the fear was generated by my unquestioned, irrational belief in an evil, hideously ugly entity called the devil. I had never seen Satan in the bright light of day but I had no doubt, nevertheless, that he was real. Every bit as real as goblins, bogeymen, ghosts and evil witches.
And so before I developed a rational intellect, I lived in a world inhabited by unseen terrors. But while there were indeed horrible monsters in my five-year old world, there was also a good deal of enchantment and magic. There was a good fairy that slipped coins beneath my pillow while I slept. There were huge, colorful, hidden, candy-filled baskets on Easter mornings that were furtively delivered during the night by a giant rabbit. There were pots of gold at the end of rainbows and the miraculous ability to stop Tinker Bell from dying by affirming my belief in fairies by clapping my hands.
One Christmas morning, I woke to find an electric train set spread out beneath the tree. Santa Claus had come during the night and somehow he had time to connect the tracks and position the little trees, bushes and buildings. Before leaving, Santa ate a plate of cookies and washed them down with a glass of milk. I wondered how he got in our house since there wasn't a chimney. Later that day I saw the big, empty train-set box in my parents’ bedroom. “Did Santa put it there?” I asked my mother.
“Yes,” she said and smiled.
“How did Santa get in?” I asked her.
“Santa is magical.”
Today I would gladly put up with hideous monsters lurking in the dark if I were somehow able to recapture that lost childlike wonder, and the magic and enchantment of Christmas.
Interesting Note: The Santa and snowman gourds pictured above were painted by Anita Siciliano, who is also the mother in this story.