Joseph Skovira '79 | December 25, 2018
Editor's Note: This piece is part of "12 Days of Classics," a holiday series drawn from the magazine's archives and published at magazine.nd.edu from Saturday, December 22, 2018, to Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Merry Christmas!
Thanksgiving was past, long past in my and my buddies 9-year-old time sense, and our thoughts had already turned to the coming Christmas holiday. But on a raw December Saturday, the question every child eventually asks was posed in our group:
“Do you STILL think there’s a Santa Claus?”
“Nah, I heard from Stevie that it’s just your Mom and Dad.”
“Yeah, I think it’s for little kids…”
Of course I agreed. But I knew my friends were wrong. Santa was real. However, I wasn’t as sure of things as I had been in Christmases past, and there did seem to be some inconsistencies in the Christmas legend. Our chimney led right to the furnace. Did Santa come through the oil burner then upstairs to deposit presents under the tree? And the roof of our Cape Cod looked awful small for a sled and eight reindeer. But these were minor problems.
With the initial seeds of doubt in place, I became more observant of Christmas rituals. When our Christmas tree was placed in the living room, I sensed I was helping more with decorating. In past years, Santa did everything.
Then, a month before Christmas, came our weekly Saturday trip to my father’s bar, Zoli’s. Dad, John and I had chores to do. Inside, the bar’s only light came from two plate glass windows on the side and front of the bar room. I would always walk through the darkened room to the light switches next to the front door, where I fished for the key to flip on the overhead and back bar lights. This was the first of my jobs which preceded my greater tasks of cleaning the bar and back rooms. John would wash dishes and bar hardware in the big kitchen sink. Dad would head for the office and stockrooms in the basement.
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