Two California boys, coping with the loss of their mother, find themselves uprooted when their father, a Navy Commander, is transferred to a base in Northern Michigan. With the youngest boy continuously sick, the family must survive military life and the northern elements as they dwell in their little hunter’s cabin on Lake Huron. When the boys’ father must leave prior to Christmas to fulfill his secret mission for the United States Military, the boys are surprised by a chance encounter that saves a life, and reunites a family.
"The Magic of Christmas" by Garasamo Maccagnone
In my family room, I have an elevated ceiling, probably thirty feet high or so. Over the years, a few days prior to Christmas, I’ve enjoyed looking through the high windows of the room at the winter moon. It’s usually two in the morning when I do this and the family has long been asleep. With the lights twinkling on our tree and my iPod filled with traditional Christmas songs, the mood is perfect to reflect on what the magic of Christmas is all about.
As I lay on my back looking up from my couch, so many good visions of Christmas past always dance around my head. Two of the kindest people I’ve ever known dominate my mind. My grandma Clare, who was widowed at the age of fifty-two, dedicated the last twenty-three years of her life to her grandchildren, making sure all ten of us were well taken care of and loved. Grandma Clare was selfless and generous in all ways. She always found out exactly what you needed, from a new tire for your paper route bike, or as I got in college, enough money to buy a manifold for my 74 Ford Pinto.
I dedicated For the Love of St. Nick to my Aunt Bobby, who was Grandma Clare’s youngest daughter. Unlike my sibling’s godparents, my godparents never bought me a gift at Christmas time or my birthday. It was Aunt Bobby who bought that extra gift for me and made sure it was under the tree so I wasn’t disappointed. And of course, she always signed it like it came from my real godparents, but I knew better; I knew her handwriting and I knew the truth because her son, my cousin Joey, told me one time about it during a sleep over.
More than anything, I enjoyed being around Grandma Clare and Aunt Bobby on Christmas day. Being Polish, the two were excellent bakers. I can’t tell you how many monstrous slices of lemon Bundt cake I devoured in their presence. Knowing I had the appetite of six grown hogs, the two watched me gleefully suck down their masterpieces with one glass of milk after another.
Christmas dinners typically saw the table filled with prime rib, turkey, ham, sweet potatoes and a cheese potato casserole. Being half Sicilian, there was always an entire separate menu of pasta, lasagna, meatballs and sausage to be followed by the creamiest Cannolies my mother could make.
The dinner table chatter related to the times, like who the communists were and who shot Kennedy or was it possible for space aliens to visit the earth. To my recollection, prior to taking their after dinner naps, my father and Uncle Al usually argued over some Biblical scripture or Union news that scattered everyone away from the table and into the other rooms of the house to play or to just plain get away.
I’m not much for flamboyance. Ostentatious Christmas presentations seem superficial to me. I suppose what I tried to capture in, For the Love of St. Nick is the quiet simple moments of the season. I set the scenes in northern Michigan to get far away from the saturated Santa marketing the secular culture forces upon us.
Much like my fond memories of Christmas past, I wanted the story to be about familial love and the true spirit of the season. I wanted St. Nick to be more remembered for his sacrifice and concern than his bag of gifts and treats.
In the end, whenever I’ve looked back, it’s never been any of the gifts that I remember. It’s always been about memories, the good times with the family, be at St. Athanasius, the family Christmas dinner, or the conversations afterward with my cousins, aunts, uncles, and family members.
At fifty, it’s all that remains of my past. I’m grateful that every year Christmas brings out such memories and takes me to a better place and a better time.
Garasamo Maccagnone studied creative writing and literature under noted American writers Sam Astrachan and Stuart Dybek at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. A college baseball player as well, Maccagnone met his wife Vicki as a junior at WMU. The following year, after injuring his throwing arm, Maccagnone left school and his baseball ambitions to marry Vicki. After a two year stint at both W.B. Doner and BBDO advertising agencies, Maccagnone left the industry to apply his knowledge of marketing in a new venture in an up-and-coming industry. Maccagnone created a company called, "Crate and Fly," and turned it from a store front in 1984 to a world-wide multi-million dollar shipping corporation by 1994.
In the mid 90’s Maccagnone decided to fulfill the promise of his writing career, by first penning the children’s book, The Suburban Dragon and then following up with a collection of short stories and poetry entitled, The Affliction of Dreams. His literary novel, St. John of the Midfield was published in 2007, followed by his For the Love of St. Nick, which was released in 2008. Maccagnone expanded the original version of For the Love of St. Nick and had the book illustrated for a new release in June 2009.
Garasamo “Gary” Maccagnone lives today in Shelby Township, Michigan, with his wife Vicki and three children. You can visit Gary online at www.garasamomaccagnone.com.