|"Santa Fe Winter" oil on board, 6 x 6 inches, by Steven Boone|
It is nice to have a reason to celebrate during the darkest days of the year. Amy has a stack of presents wrapped and ready to send to her sons and their families. I used to do that at Christmas but stopped years ago. My children became adults, I became single and my parents died. My religion is Baha’i and it has its own holy days.
|Hand painted gourd by Amy Cordova y Boone|
Neither of my parents had a religion. Growing up, my family always observed gift giving traditions but not the religious practice or commemoration. We were poor and lived in a tenement building in Chicago. My father worked several jobs to support his wife and five children. When Christmas came around, my mother would make popcorn chains to decorate the tree. Gifts were meager. But Santa Claus would show up at the door Christmas morning.
Ralph Caprio was the best friend of our family. A few years younger than my dad, he always worked alongside my father professionally. He came from Italian immigrants who were close knit. A confirmed bachelor, he loved us Boone kids. I can remember on Christmas morning a knock at the door. My father answered and there he stood, arms full of gifts. “Ralph!” All the children shouted, and he came inside beaming with gladness and basking in warmth. His presents were always the best—better than my parents could afford. For years he was the Santa Claus in our house at Christmas.
My father has passed away, but Ralph will see another Christmas day this year in Chicago. About ten years ago he began going by the name Raff. I am forever grateful for his generous presence from the beginning of my life. Happy holidays Raff!