The lebkuchen , zimtsterne, springerle, pfeffernuesse, pfefferkuchen and jam-filled spitzbuben settled like a leaden weight in my stomach. It was all just too much change for a five-year-old to cope with in one year: a new sister, Kindergarten and now Santa Claus. Would the changes never end?
In Kindergarten we learned about God the Father, about how we should pray to Him and tell Him what we needed. I didn’t need another Father. I figured if my Pop was always so busy working, this Father who took care of everything and everybody in the whole wide world would really never have time for me.
I heard my classmates talk about how their Grandmas were always able to fix things in their homes. Both my Grandmas were in Malta.
I needed a Grandma.
The next time we went to Corona, Nonni diNoto saw that something was troubling me. She asked me to help her in the kitchen. There she asked me what was wrong. I told her about Santa Claus and explained that he was in charge of Christmas in College Point. I didn’t know if La Befana would be allowed to visit me there anymore. Nonni listened patiently as I explained how Christmas was handled in College Point.
She repeated the main points. “Santa Claus. A letter.”
“I fix. I write Befana. She give Santa. No hard feelings. Christmas come.”
I had my doubts. Nonni had never been to College Point. Maybe nobody ever had to change from La Befana to Santa Claus. Maybe Christmas was lost forever, like some of the packages we'd never gotten from Malta.
On Christmas Eve we again gathered in Corona at Uncle Des and Aunt Betty’s home. We had the Christmas Eve dinner. Then we went to St. Leo’s for the Midnight Mass.
Everything was familiar. Latin and Italian.
Why couldn’t we have stayed there?