My Corner, Your Corner: Christmas time can fun for some, dark for others

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio

Christmas Eve is upon us and it’s a great time for family, friends and goodies and, let us not forget, a visit from Santa tonight.

There have been umpteen Christmas shows on TV in the last few weeks, a local radio station has been playing Christmas music since Thanksgiving and department stores have been displaying and selling Christmas decorations as early as September.

Children all over the world go to bed early in anticipation of the arrival of St. Nick. Who has been naughty and who has been nice? Only Santa knows.

Christmas Eve night was always a bit different than any other night of the year. When it was bedtime, we were ever so obedient. As we were ordered to bed, everything seemingly got very still.

We had candles in every window and, when we were tucked in for the night, it was magical. It is so comforting now that I think back.

Our house was converted from coal to gas-baseboard heat; it was always warm and cozy that when I slipped into the freshly washed sheets, I felt safe and secure.

Falling asleep was difficult when the excitement was so high. “What will Santa bring me? Will I get what I asked for? Or will he totally surprise me?”

Downstairs was buzzing with activity with Mom and Dad cleaning up after company went home. Often times, Mom began preparing for the big Christmas meal late into the night.

From my bedroom, I could see the glow of all the Christmas lights lit on the banister. The stairs always had lights and garland adorning them.

I think every year that I can remember, I was hoping I could hear Santa or, even better, catch him in the act.

When my daughter Tiffany was an itty-bitty girl, we tucked her in for the night on Christmas Eve and, in the middle of saying goodnight, she said, “Shhhhhh, did you hear that?” “Hear what?” I asked. “It’s reindeer on the woof,” she said. That was a special moment I won’t ever forget.

Young couples everywhere are making memories with their children each and every year and one day they will look back on their childhood with fondness as you and I do.

Tomorrow morning will be exciting and magical with wrapping paper tossed everywhere. Gift boxes will be opened and tissue paper will flow out of them. Toys will be abundant.

Some people will be lucky enough to have Santa assemble toys while others, due to Santa’s time constraints, will find instructions on how to assemble the toys. Santa always left the instructions for me to put the toys together.

A dark Christmas for some

A song describes Christmas as “the most wonderful time of the year.” But it’s not always like that. Sometimes reality rears its ugly head and all the sparkly lights go dark.

Christmas 2017 will not be so happy for the Roxanne Grico Allford, Denise Richardson Martin, Josette Yakobitis and Melanie Mizenko families.

Over the last few weeks of December, these four wonderful, beautiful ladies passed away… all from cancer.

I hadn’t seen Roxanne in a few decades but did look up to her when I was in high school. She dedicated her life to nursing and anyone who knew her will never forget Roxy.

A few of my friends had a law firm in West Pittston where I got to meet Denise Martin. Denise was a kind soul with a very lovely demeanor. She had the sweetest high-pitched voice of a 10-year-old that was so comforting. She always called me Tone and greeted me with a smile.

I had the good fortune to work with Josette for many years. She took her job very seriously and was not one to mess with. She had a big heart to match her smile and would often craft little tchotchkes for everyone, especially around this time of the year. I hope everyone who received one of those gifts will cherish it. I’ll miss J-Yak for sure.

Melanie was the person I knew the least in time but in the few years I did know her, she amazed me with her attitude. She was always positive, upbeat and even humorous about her cancer. She and I spoke candidly about our cancer bouts and it was always profound. Like the other ladies, she fought so hard to defeat cancer. She had so much grace and dignity, right to the end.

All of these women have been an inspiration to many and have left their mark and legacy. Roxanne and Denise were in their early 60s, Josette in her mid-50s and Melanie just 26. Three of these ladies were looking towards retirement and Mel was looking forward to a long career as a journalist.

Sixteenth-century poet John Donne said it best, “Any man’s death diminishes me…” The passing of these fine women breaks my heart and now they fly with the angels.

Quote of the week

“Courtesy is the one coin you can never have too much of or be stingy with.” – John Wanamaker, American merchant

Thought of the week

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” – Hebbel, German poet

Bumper sticker

“Study nature, not books.” – Louis Agassiz, American geologist, naturalist

My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at