Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Tales - Part I

Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Actually, I can't remember a Christmas with such gentle temperatures and perfect sunny weather, but the song is nice anyway. Yes, it has been a good 10 days I haven't written, but Christmas is Christmas: relatives, dinners, lunches, recovery times from the previous two items of the list, friends, walks, some presents to buy and so on and so forth, you know how it goes. That, and I got my new laptop last tuesday and I spent hours since then trying to configure the system the I like it, failing miserably so far.

With the exception of my girlfriend being next to me (she's stranded, as every year, with her family in a remote danish island), I really had it all.

The creation of the Presepe (nativity scene), for instance, which posed some very interesting logistical and architectural problems being the first one built in the new house. Eventually, it turned to be probably the biggest and most impressive one we've ever made (mostly by my father, who had a bit abandoned the construction works in the past years, but who now has a lot of free time...).

Then it was the Christmas tree's turn, which took much less and saw the new edition of a discussion that has been going for the last ten years: should we change the "puntale" (the ornament you put at the top of the tree)? And as usual the discussion went on for a couple hours and was eventually closed by my mother with in the usual way: uttering the sentence "We can't, we got it the month after Guido's birth!". And so, while balls, crystals, ornaments come and go, silver threads are added and removed and the very tree (an artificial one) has been changed three or four time over the course of my life, there the puntale, worn and made opaque by the years, stays, unchangeable, one of the very symbol of Christmas for me (oh, and the weird individual next to the three is my younger brother).

To be noted that for making room to the Christmas decorations, half the house had to be reworked and that meant that, for instance, my own room's space has been severely cramped has the computer and its chair had to be moved out of the living room, the carpet on which they were staying had to be folded, the CD boxes which were in the corner now taken by the nativity scene had to find a new place, plants had to be moved, the boxes containing the Christmas decorations placed somewhere, tables cleaned for the afore mentioned decorations to be placed, books moved, silverware recovered from the obscure places the moving had stranded that, even paintings had to be taken off the walls to allow the background of the nativity scene to be placed. All in all hours and hours of work, made with the unavoidable Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" CD in the background (it used to be a tape once upon a time, I think that's the only CD my mother ever bought).

And then, finally, the 24th evening it was the Christmas dinner time, a meatless one yet none the lighter, as my mother delightes us with: salmon tarts, shrimps tarts, olive tarts, red and black "caviar" tarts, apetitizers of all kinds, smoked salmon, roasted fish, vegetables of various kind, dessert, dry fruits, normal fruits, all coming with white wines and eventually liquors.

The new element of this year was the presents. Following a philosophy that i shall not explain, there used to be a kind of unspoken ban over presents' exchange at Christmas. A ban I started to ignore the year I started working and that was eventually lifted, again without a word being said and with the silent understatement that presents had to be inexpensive, this year so that, for the first time in family history, there actually were boxes under the tree. And so it was that the first real day of Christmas passed.

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