Holidays of 2008 That Almost Weren’t

January 25, 2009 at 20:28 | Posted in Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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     This year everything seemed to weigh heavier than normal. For the first time that I can remember, I had zero holiday spirit. The Holidays were always my favorite time of year – a family tradition passed down by my parents. My dad loved having huge family holidays and parties. Mom would bake for days – especially her famous yum yum cake – the only fruit cake I have ever enjoyed.  Thanksgiving everyone would sit after dinner planning and plotting shopping for the next morning and then when finished marking all the advertising flyers, we would plot and plan our decorations and themes for the year. That was to ensure we bought anything we thought we might not have enough of!

     Of course , Valentino has always insisted we have enough to decorate three houses and he is probably right — I inherited many of my grandmother’s decorations, gifts and excess from my mother, and added to it all with our own favorites. Decorating started on Friday, went into serious high gear on Saturday, and was finished by Sunday night after Thanksgiving. We rivaled every other home in our neighborhood because we decorated front and back yards as well as every room in the house including bathrooms! We had a family tree in the family room, a formal one in the living room, and small trees in each boy’s room, too. Dept.56 would be one huge display, a large nativity of 7 inch figures in the living room, and a 10 foot display in the family room of 5 inch figures including buildings and the Bethlehem village complete. Being Italian meant Valentino was in charge of the presepi display and it was awesome. We had a four foot tall mountain on one end of the display complete with working waterfall. Little flicker lights replicated the shepherd’s fires. and Bethlehem was a bustling market scene with all the kiosks such as butcher, fish monger, flower stall, basket shop, winery, rug seller, kings’ tents, and the creche up on the mountain. Then in 2005 we were hit by two hurricanes back to back that destroyed the base to the display and we have not yet completed quite as an elaborate one.

     This year I have been working long hours at the local hospital, finishing my bachelor’s in business, and helping my mom while she was ill. Then the economy meltdown and the wickedness of the elections soured any remnants of joy for me. I certainly wasn’t feeling peaceful. But I forced myself to put up the trees and a smaller scaled back presepi on an 8 foot display. And then I set about cooking for family for Thanksgiving. But even that felt like a chore instead of the usual fun. I turned my CD player up full blast with our Italian Christmas carols and that seemed to lift the spirits a bit. Yet I was still struggling. That is until we were sitting around the table after dinner watching the children play. It was little Julianna that touched my heart. She was mesmerized by the presepi and wanted to know all about it so I stood showing her all the figures and the creche. At four years old, it is difficult to tell what she was understanding. I left her be to look and went to make espresso.  Then her mom noticed her touching and was going to reprimand when I signaled to wait. I sneaked not too far away and took a photo to make ‘a memory’ for her for years from now. Mom was trying to tell her not to touch but just look – and then Julie answered her tearfully, “I wasn’t being naughty grandma – the Baby was cold! I fixed Him!” Precious Julie had taken the little bits of fabric from in front of the king’s tent to make a pillow and blankets of the satins and silk for the Baby in His manger! So it was Christmas Spirit arrived at our house right on time thanks to the heart of a child!

Fixing the Presepi

Fixing the Presepi


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