Christmas Cheer, oh dear!

Sometimes the United States infuriates me, seriously, what is with all the hullabaloo over Christmas, Xmas, Happy Holidays and whatnot spearheaded by my greatest source of hilarity and entertainment Fox news. Since when is there a war on Christmas? How can we even talk about war on Christmas in a place that starts playing Christmas music in all the stores of all the land right after (and oftentimes even right before) Halloween. Christmas cheer (or insanity, however you prefer to see it) is shoved down our collective throats two entire months before the festive event, and here we are debating whether or not there’s some sort of covert war on Christianity going on, in a country more fanatically Christian than the Vatican. It boggles the mind. Of course, Italy being second in the running for country with most pointless debates about useless things, I shouldn’t really be all that surprised or shocked at the US, I’m used to it after all.  Moving on.

This year was the in-laws’ turn for Christmas so we didn’t have too far to travel, in fact we took full advantage of their hospitality. The Husband dropped the kids off on Saturday and drove home after dinner. The five plus hour round trip drive though was worth it as we had a blissful two days of alone time at home. We finished shopping for gifts, we watched movies, we ate with nary a threat or chaos of any kind, we slept in, we went back to bed after breakfast just because we could. We missed the kids terribly and the house was too quiet, but as the husband remarked we talked more in those two days than we usually do in a week.

Christmas at my MIL’s is what Christmas should be, too much family, too much food, too much wine, too much yelling, too many presents and way, way too much chaos. It takes two full days to get over it, but it’s wonderful. I just wish my family could be there too.

Hopefully your Christmas was just as chaotic and joyful as ours, if not, next year you can come over here, the fun is guaranteed.

And if you don’t celebrate Christmas I still hope you had a wonderful Wednesday, cause it doesn’t have to be a holiday to make a day good and family members love each other a little more, even for just one day.

“Delayed Italian Thanksgiving”, entertaining, and a few considerations.

This post is woefully late… I forgot to put it up, but here it was all written and ready and I felt bad just letting it sit, forgotten, in a word document, so we’re taking a leap back in time today, to Thanksgiving. And my Christmas recap will go up later in the week (not tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to shock my readers with too much, too frequent content!). So off we head, back into fall, for a few minutes we can all be a month younger.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I don’t let the fact that I’m married to an Italian and living in Italy get in the way of celebrating it! Thankfully, I have a few other like-minded expat friends here so we all get together, with a few additions from other Anglo countries, and eat the hell out of a turkey. This year we held it at my house as the place we used to have it was unavailable, and as Murphy would have it, it was the first year that everyone invited showed up. Basically I had sixteen adults and fourteen kids in my house. Surprisingly, I learned quite a bit about myself by hosting this party.

First, and most importantly, I learned, or rather confirmed, that I’m an unbelievable control freak. My wonderful housekeeper, who offered to come in a few extra hours to help, looked on disbelievingly as I meticulously set the table with rigorous geometrical precision. She jokingly offered to get me a ruler to better measure out the place settings, at which I scoffed, I’ve been doing this since I was ten with a mother who could judge a table with barely a glance, I’ve got this down.

I also learned that in the first half an hour of a party I’m the world’s worst hostess. I had asked the guests to bring their food and drink contributions table ready as my kitchen was a war zone and also the place where I was setting up the buffet so having someone come in and do last-minute prep felt, to my stressed out self, something akin to drop kicking a grenade in there and laughing hysterically at me as I simultaneously dived for cover and tried to save the food. Almost everyone complied, even a friend who came in from Milan (a two and a half hour drive) in a snow storm. One friend though brought unwashed salad still in the grocery store bag, a whole tomato, and no dressing and then proceeded to compose her masterpiece on the dining room table, at which point I had steam coming out of my ears and yelled at her. I would’ve liked to be a gracious hostess and just smile seraphically at her, I’m working on that though.

Aesthetics are important to me, which is surprising because I’m not the primping and preening type (much to my Mother’s despair and disapproval), but it would seem that genetics do have an impact and I’m biologically predisposed to needing beautiful, matching wine glasses on the table and appropriately folded napkins and such. I would sooner cut out my own tongue than serve food in the pot it was cooked in.

I love a party. Moreover, I love hosting a party. I love that feeling a couple of hours in, when I’m finally relaxed, everyone has a glass of wine in their hand, chatting, little groups coming together and disbanding, rearranging conversations, laughing and enjoying themselves, and I’m finally, finally, contented in the feeling that all that work was for something important, after all, friends coming together and “making merry”, if you will.

The best part of any Thanksgiving, the going around the table sharing what we’re thankful for this year, was the absolutely most perfect moment of the day, when all the Italian husbands and boyfriends, despite the wine already freely flowing (or because of it) joined in in sharing their thankfulness, and each and every one of them did it in English, certainly an effort for them, but the perfect showing of love and respect for traditions that are slowly becoming their own.


Happy Birthday Darling Girl

I should have posted this on November 23, The Girl’s birthday, but lately everything gets in the way of this blog. I didn’t want to skip a year though so, better late than never, right?

You turned four, but all day I kept telling people you were five. I even forgot to change the number on the Happy Birthday garland in the living room, the same one I’ve been using for years, that still read 5 from your brother’s birthday earlier this year. I’ve always had a hard time really understanding how little you are compared to him, in fact, most times I act like the two of you are twins, even though you’re not, you’re almost two years younger. I expect so much from you… But you’re so grown up, so independent, how could I not? You act older and I forget… even when you melt down every once in a while because sometimes you get overwhelmed or tired or you just plain want cuddles, I forget and I scold, and then I realize my mistake, and I hug and cuddle you. It must get confusing… and I’m trying to do better, to be better at remembering that you’re still the baby of the family.

You’re still as headstrong as ever, you want to wear what you want to wear, you want to do things the way you want to do them, when you want to do them and beware anyone who gets in your way. You still have epic meltdowns, dropping to the floor with flailing arms, but they seem to be getting shorter, like you suddenly get bored with them, and for this I’m thankful.

And you’re still the most affectionate person in the family. The minute daddy walks in the door, you’re the first to drop whatever you’re doing and run to him, literally running with open arms, for a hug, what better greeting could there possibly be in the whole world? You give us lots of kisses, lots of loud, smacking, wonderful kisses that make all of our adult boo-boos go away. You insist on doing our nightly bad dream banishing ritual right back at me, because you don’t want me to have bad dreams either. You love your brother so much, he sometimes gets annoyed at all your displays of affection… but when you aren’t around he walks around aimlessly waiting for you to come back cause he misses you and is out of sorts without you.

You are the family socialite, you love to go out, out for a walk, out window shopping, out for dinner, out of town… you want to see the world near and far. You love hotels, you love sleeping in a big bed with your brother or with me, you love hotel breakfasts, you just generally love new experiences and spending all day, all night with us doing new things.

You are light, you are joy, you are boundless, uncontainable energy, you complete our family.

Happy Birthday Darling Girl, I love you miles and miles, your smile lights up my life, you make my heart sing.