Monday, December 12, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! - Lascia, lascia che venga giu' la neve!

I am telling you, Christmas is on its way!
This year, for some reason, I was not able to get into the Christmas spirit. Me, the one who used to be so excited when the kiosk with minced pies and mulled wine would suddenly appear in Covent Garden in London. Me, the one who would always feel emotional when I would hear the first Christmas Carol of the Season in early November. "Time for wearing my red coat!" I would start telling myself, while thinking of all the things that the Christmas Season would soon bring to me. For me, and for almost every Londoner, living in a tiny apartment with a kitchen used as a living room, Christmas was the greatest time of the year. Time to celebrate and to treat myself, without having to worry about my bank account, time to buy gifts for my loved ones and, above all, time to socialize! And how could I possibly complain for having to accept one more drink down at the pub instead of having to work late at the office? It's Christmas lady! You've got to have one more drink!someone from the office would invariably say.

"I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" (see last year's Christmas posting). I only had to hear a few notes of this tune and for me Christmas was on its way, along with all the things that I was really looking forward to about the Christmas Season; not just food and drinks with family and friends but also time to think and to re-evaluate decisions, while looking for a more deeper meaning of Christmas. For me this would usually happen during the midnight service with the chorus at the San Lorenzo Church in Turin, a tradition we had for years in my family. Then on Santo Stefano's day (the day after Christmas), a moment of silence on my part would follow, in front of my father's nativity, which he has been putting together since he was a boy to create every year the spiritual meaning of Christmas in our family. 

Here in New England, since I had William in 2009, I have started dreaming of a really white Christmas, just like in this song:

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

Ironically, last year and most probably also this year, snow in New England, the State which gets buried under snow for 4 months per year, did not come I believe until after Christmas. Certainly, after we left Boston for the Christmas holidays, on December 23rd. So this year, once again, I have forgotten that Christmas is on its way. Well, until yesterday, when I said to John in panic: "OMG! Two weeks from now we are going to Italy. What?? Cards? Gifts? We'll better sort all this out today!"

I blame it on the snow that has not come yet and on my two year old, who cannot stand any shopping experience in a non familiar store for more than 20 seconds. If I add the requirements of having to travel by public transport with no stairs and of going to an area with large, clean and accessible restrooms plus a children playarea or a toy store nearby, where Tronk can jump, push and scream to his wish, the number of shopping options I have left are down to probably one or two. As a result, here in New England, I can only acknowledge that Christmas is coming until I see the snow outside the window. The houses topped with Christmas tree decorations and commercialized cartoon characters don't seem to do the trick for me here. I just look at them and smile but when I look at them I just cannot get into the Christmas mood. 

Can't you see that Christmas is coming??

I now do. Wondering how did it happen? Yesterday I finally saw the snow. Yes, snow was falling! And I found something better than CVS to truly get into the spirit of the Season. I discovered... the Enchanted Village.

Neve! Neve! Neve! (Snow! Snow! Snow!)
William at the Enchanted Village
Originally created in 1958 by a Bavarian toy maker, the display is a reconstruction of a little New England village with 28 fully decorated holiday scenes, 250 "automata" figures and real snow falling (and melting) on us.

One of the animated scenes at the Enchanted Village

Judging from the cute (or corny, as my husband would say) exhibit, life was hard back then in New England, yet so much simpler. No big chains, no mass production, only small independent stores selling products that were fresh, handmade and nicer to look at. And the children were playing with snow balls in the street, in their handmade toggle coats, elegant hats and matching scarves. Beautiful! "This is what I needed to see to get into the Christmas mood. We should come to this village every year!", I said to John.

There are two things I completely failed to acknowledge: (1) the Enchanted Village in 1950 was seen at the time probably as tacky as the giant Snoopy standing next to Joseph and Mary in a nativity scene in someone's yard today (2) the Enchanted Village exists because a big ass furniture chain has decided to bring the original display from 1950 back to life thanks to the large chunk of money the chain invests every year in entertainment. 

Thank you Jordan's Furniture for making me feel the magic of a white Christmas (un Natale con i fiocchi).

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