My Corner, Your Corner: I’m predicting a long, cold winter

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio

No denying, the winter season has begun and I’m thinking it’s going to be a snowy season. How do I know this? It’s just a gut instinct.

I have no meteorology background except for two semesters in college. But it’s the middle of December and we’ve already had two 3” storms and a few nights in the middle teens.

I know a lot of people love winter as much as I do summer and that’s okay — to each his own.

Whether or not you are a winter person, the very first snow is always nice because of the natural beauty with trees and bushes covered in the white stuff.

The only thing appealing to me when it snows this time of the year is the contrast of the Christmas lights and the snow. Maybe it takes me back to yesteryear when I looked at the magic of Christmas through youthful eyes.

What I really miss are the huge colored bulbs strung in blue, white, yellow, green and red lights. When it was time to decorate the outside of the house, my job was to bring the boxes up from the cellar and test the lights.

There were no tiny white lights or even medium-sized multi-colored bulbs, just large ones. I loved laying them out on the living room floor and plugging them in for the first time to see the colors light up. I would inspect the strands of lights one-by-one to make sure each light was tightened.

If there was a bulb tightened but not lit, my dad always told me I had to flick my finger against the bulb to make sure it was truly dead. If you pinged the bulb, sometimes it would turn on. We always had replacement bulbs just in case.

Just for fun, I would turn off all the houselights and plug in as many strands of colored lights as possible. For an 8-year-old, it was a wonderful sight.

Next, of course, was the big plastic Santa head that had to be tested. The backing was cardboard and there was a single clear blub that lit up Santa’s face, red cheeks and all. That decoration always hung in the center of the front porch.

Hanging the lights from the ladder was Dad’s job. I don’t think he was fond of it but, when the job was complete, he was always satisfied.

One-by-one, houses on the block would begin to glow with Christmas lights. That was always one of the best parts of the holiday season. In fact, Mom would insist on all of us piling in the car to take a drive to see the neighborhood lights.

Somehow, my parents would find out about some extraordinary light scheme someplace in a distant town and we’d travel to see them. I recall them taking us to Berwick to see the streetscape of decorations that seemed to go on forever. When you’re a child, three blocks IS forever.

The huge star currently housed on the Pittston Area High School campus was once lodged at a home in Stauffer Heights. If memory serves me, the owners would light it during the Christmas season and we would insist on my dad taking us to see it.

That star was cool and, from the west side of the river, it could be seen quite clearly. I kind of miss it being there, but at least it has a great home today.

We decorated our tree with medium-sized multi-colored bulbs that had clips on the side of each bulb so they could be secured to the branches. I recall the bulbs getting rather hot and, even at a young age, I’d worry about the tree catching on fire.

In the past, I’ve written about our family Christmas tree, artificial at that, rotating on a musical stand. That was the norm from year to year, but one time we had a real tree and mom swore never again after it released a million needles when it was taken down.

We had pine needles embedded in the rug, underneath the baseboard heaters and even in the furniture for months. Our problem was we always celebrated Russian Christmas in honor of my father’s mom. And that included Russian New Year on Jan. 14. Obviously, that’s way too long to keep a real tree up.

After all was decorated outside, the inside would be dressed up. Again, my mother had a flair for decorating and just about every available free space in the house sported some kind of holiday decoration.

My favorite was the 4’x8’ tree platform. When my brother was born, my parents got him a huge Lionel train set complete with the pills that you put down the train engine’s smokestack to create the illusion of a real train.

I loved that train set. It had a barrel car that, when you hit a button, would unload the barrels and we had a log car that would empty the logs. There was a spotlight car, as well, with a spotlight that would rotate as the train went around the track.

I hated to see that train go when my brother got married. I always thought I’d buy my own one day but never did.

It won’t be long before the jolly man in the red suit makes his rounds but, in the meantime, load up the car with the family and take a ride to see the holiday lights.

Quote of the week

“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” – Henry Drummond, Canadian poet

Thought of the week

“For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been.’” – John Greenleaf Whittier, American writer

Bumper sticker

“Never assume the obvious is true.” – William Safire, American grammarian

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