It took me from 5 pm till way past midnight last night to get all my Christmas ornaments, tree, lights and general seasonal tat out and looking as I like them. [James, I warn you, you are going to hate this post! Leslie, did you finish your Christmas decorations?] Mind you, this time estimate includes turning out the storeroom as well!
For a long time after my wonderful Dad died, I just didn't want to know about Christmas and, in our grief, Mum and I would set each other off so badly that, during the first few years of her widowhood, she would beg me to just go away for Christmas! And I did - and only now do I realise what an act of love, on her part, that was.
Then Mum died too, I came to Sicily at Christmas and relearned love and, four years after my mother's death, suddenly realised that I could enjoy Christmas again. I may not be a practising Christian, but it is, for me, a season of remembrance of love and the joy it brings.
When I photographed some of my "special Christmas things" earlier today, I ended up with over 40 shots! So here I have mostly included only those that have, at least, a Sicilian resonance :
1. Chiara gave me this tree ornament in 1993, the first Christmas I spent in Sicily.
2. I received this "perfumed tree" ormament here that year too, from a delightful child who is now a delightful young woman.
3. Christmas 1999 and I was not in Sicily. But a dear friend here sent me these tree decorations. They are actually bluer in hue than the photo shows. I could have used them as earrings, too!
4. I was given this beautifully scented pomander by a friend this very Saturday, at Chiara's. I will treasure it for years to come.
5. Chiara's mother gave me this "crib" last year. I think it is so simple yet so lovely.
6. "Leonardo" my plant holder has a festive load! He has also acquired a necklace.
7. I call these my "Egyptian angels" because they were given to me by a UK student who was, on his own admission, rather "relaxed" when it came to lesson attendance. Nevertheless, without ceding his own identity, he had worked out what it took to be accepted in an adopted country and participated in our festivals in ways that he thought he could. I always think of him when I unwrap my "angels" at Christmas and hope that life in the UK is treating him kindly.
8. My jardinière in the hallway gets festive.
9. My "Santa" light won't quite fit an Italian window and no one can see him from outside because of the shutters. But he has seen me through too many Christmases not to be appreciated now!
10. This "choir" ornament was given to me by dear Sicilian friends in 1995.
11. Miniature cribs are an art form here and are made of all sorts of materials. Again, it was my dear friend Linda, Chiara's mother, who sent me this "matchbox" one a few years ago. It was, I think, made in Peru, and I treasure it.
12. My mother gave me this candle over 20 years ago. He is an important part of Christmas for Simi and me!
Lastly, some years ago a friend watched me decorating my tree and told me I was doing it all wrong because I put the lights on last: "Yes", I said, "because I may want to light certain items". "Oh, no", she reiterated, "lights on first! " But what if a lamp "goes", reader? I confess that I cannot change the things - well, not without cutting my fingers, anyway - so I always just go and buy a new set. [Yes, if dear James is still reading, here is another example of my Micawberness!] So what do you do, readers - lights first or last?
Must go now: new job went all right [I think] but exhausted! Please excuse lack of visiting tonight. By the way, I just can't get the spacing right in this post!