Buone Feste a Tutti!!! I spent my first Christmas Eve in Italia with my friends and students at Poliziano. It was exciting to experience my first traditional Italian Christmas Eve. It was all of Anna’s family so I was particularly honored to be included. I got a chance to get to know Anna’s mom and dad who own their own winery and Anna’s sister, who just had a new baby. The evening was filled with laughter, wine, food and of course gifts. Dinner was a traditional menu of fish courses from a starter of smoked salmon to a main course of Baccalà in Umido. There was also a delicious pumpkin soup and a cart filled with every conceivable holiday dessert from chocolates and dates to the traditional Christmas breads, Pandoro and Panettone. I sampled way too much wine throughout the evening and while the family opened all of their gifts, I got to hold baby Paolo who slept through most of the excitement of his first Christmas, oblivious to the many gifts being opened in his honor. The tree was surrounded by tons of presents and Anna’s mom, Simona, did the honors of handing out each one. Anna explained to me that they always open their gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas morning so they can relax on Christmas day. From my other friends here, it seems pretty split as to which day presents are opened; Christmas Day wins out for all those with children waiting for Babbo Natale to make an appearance.
I gave Mariastella and Francesco books (unfortunately not in English, since my bookstore steadfastly refuses to stock them), and I received a beautiful scarf from Anna who said it was going to bring me good fortune in the new year. Speriamo!
My actual Christmas day was quiet and spent with Cinder watching holiday movies in Italian. I had a lovely surprise yesterday when I went into town to buy a few things from Antonella’s store. I had brought around banana bread to my new friends on Thursday as a small token of holiday cheer. When I got to Antonella’s my friends here presented me with a gift that had contributions from their stores: Salami from Silvano the butcher, a journal from Gabriella, wine from Caterina, and my favorite biscotti from Antonella. I was quite touched by the gesture.
Cinder and I are continuing our holiday weekend with more holiday films and chats with friends, and she is waiting impatiently for me to break open the salami. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday and that next year brings good things for all. Buon Anno!!