As a father of a young boy I find myself trying to do for him what my parents did for me. If I could give him the world I would and I would see to it that he is well protected in his life. We know it is so important to give our children the love and encouragement they need so they can grow and mature into their different stages of development. The most important part of childhood is the magical part which is the time of our innocence and our belief in things that only children can believe in. It is so important to let our children experience the joys of Christmas and the wonderment of Santa Claus. I made sure Matthew wrote his Christmas list to Santa just like my mother did with me when I was a young boy. He resisted initially because he felt Santa needs to visit those who have less than we have and he felt content with what he has. I am so very proud of Matthew for his loving compassion for the needy and less fortunate. In his list he asks for simple things like rolls of paper, puzzles and books with chapters.
I had my work cut out for me this Christmas as I was trying to balance the demands of work, the minor disruptions at home with leaking pipes that destroyed our kitchen floor, a failing hard drive that wiped out my programs and data that dated back over 10 years and the shopping demands for meeting the expectations of all my nieces and nephews for a Christmas that would have a sad tone to it this year with the abscence of my dad. As I usually find myself at this time of year it is Christmas Eve early in the day and I am preparing for a day of intense shopping and dealing with the crowds and the chaos that only last minute shopping does provide. I happen to enjoy shopping at target because of their selections and pricing. After hours of walking down the toy aisles, movie aisles, book aisles and clothing aisles I managed to find something for everyone on my list. I was kind of enjoying the experience as I am feeling good finding things I think each and every kid would enjoy. I also was very happy to meet all of Matthew's requests with the exception of the rolls of paper which I knew my sisters were taking care of.
After a full day of shopping I was exhausted and looking forward to getting home and preparing for midnight mass which was about 5 hours away. I also knew I had a lot of gift wrapping to do which I feel is the hardest part because I have not done a very good job at it. I am always envious when I see the beautifully wrapped presents my wife and sisters have for Matthew with the overlaps just right and everything perfect with bow, label and all. My feeling is as long as the gift is wrapped no matter how uneven and that it is concealed so the element of surprise is there then it really doesn't matter how neat it is because the kids are going to unwrap it quickly anyway.
This year as far as celebrities and movies go I found myself buying gifts such as music and books relating to Michael Jackson, Hannah Montanna, the Trans-siberian Orchestra and Twilight. I also bought a model train set, remote control cars, the Hess car, puzzles, dvds and books for all on my list trying my best to please everyone. In the spirit of Christmas and with my son's insight I also bought several toys earlier in the month for needy kids that were given to the Toys for Tots campaign. It is always important to remember the less fortunate at this time of year and really throughout the year as well.
I also managed to make our family Christmas card after taking a picture of my son in the backyard during our pre winter season blizzard and designed it on a popular website and was very pleased with it. The cards went out the day after Christmas but at least they went out as I enjoy acknowledging the wonderful cards we receive from family and friends.
I reminded Matthew as he was preparing to go to bed that he needed to set out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa and dishes of water for his reindeer. Matty was all excited as he eagerly awaited his visit like I used to do so many years ago. He was very generous with the amount of cookies and milk he left Santa and even left a note that he could have more if he was still hungry.
As Matthew went up to bed I told him to sleep and in the morning we would open up the presents. I then started bringing in all the presents and left them by the tree with all the wrapping utensils. I was not yet ready to start wrapping them as I was planning to go to midnight mass and wanted to relax a little bit watching the tv. It was peaceful and quiet and I find Christmas eve a special time and a very exciting time as it brings me back to the happy times of my childhood and reminds me of how wonderful my parents were to my sisters and I as they always made our Christmases so special. It was time to go to mass as I enjoy the midnight mass ceremony as the first mass of Christmas with the singing and the beauty of the pagentry. I always try to lead a proper and religious life and sometimes fall away from the church but I do believe and am always happy to be at church when I go, especially at Christmastime. I listen to the priest as he speaks of the baby Jesus and Mother Mary and Joseph the carpenter. It is a very joyous time celebrating the birth of our lord Jesus. This is the very true meaning of Christmas and this is what I want Matty to understand. I always enjoy singing Joy to the World at Christmas mass and seeing all the girls dressed for the occasion. It is a special day and a day we cherish. At Christmas mass when we extend our hands to one another we wish each other a Merry Christmas. As mass ended and the crowd was leaving I was admiring the church and the tree and the nativity scene. I wished all the priests a Merry Christmas and went home to wrap the presents.
As I arrived home I had the task of wrapping all of Matthew's presents first. We managed to buy him things he asked for and things we felt he would like. I knew he would love the train set and the racing car track. I also bought him lego sets and 500 piece puzzles and some of his favorite movies on dvd. He can never have enough board games so we bought him Monopoly and Scrabble and Yahtzee and his favorite game Sorry with a Sponge Bob theme. We also got him the Hess car. My wife bought him more practical things such as shirts and pants and shoes. I was lucky my mother in law awoke and helped me with wrapping the presents. It took us about 3 hours to wrap and we still had to wrap for some of the other nieces and nephews which I said we can do tomorrow.
As my mother in law turned in for bed I stayed up a little longer to watch a Christmas movie and then finally fell asleep around 4:30 am knowing that Matthew would want to open his presents early in the day. Before I drifted off to sleep I kissed my wife goodnight as she was asleep for several hours already having wrapped her presents early in the day. I dreamed of my son waiting for Santa to arrive and of Maria and I continuing his dream and belief in Santa as that is a precious gift. The gift of childhood innocence. As we slept we awaited Christmas day all together opening up our presents. This was still a few hours away so I slept peacefully and felt very content with my wife and son who I love so very much.
Edward D. Iannielli III