Thoughts of a Christmas lover

Ilaria D'Onofrio Program Assistant, Rome Center


December 24, 2018

“I could understand if you were a child, but why do you like Christmas so much?”

This particular time of the year I get asked this question a lot. I am an adult and I love Christmas holiday with all of my heart, and that seems to be quite unusual. Most of the people usually lose interest in this holiday while they grow up because life gets harder and more complicated. It is almost impossible to perceive the magic atmosphere you felt when you were a child– still believing that on the night of December 24th, a kind, potbellied and bearded man will fly to your house and bring you amazing presents. Don’t worry, I am not a grown-up who still believes Santa Claus exists. If I can be honest with you, I was actually terrified by him when I was a child. Anyway, I am not here to talk about my childhood, but the reasons why I enjoy this festivity so much.

First of all, we have the Christmas tree. Decorating it on December 8th is now a well-rooted tradition in my house, and it is a convivial moment that I spend with my parents and my sister. We laugh, we talk, we fight over the position of the Christmas tree ornaments, and after we finish, we usually have dinner near the tree, enjoying all together the play of lights that fill up our living room.

This leads me to my second point: Christmas lights. I think everyone can recognize the beauty of lights ornaments around a city, but I think I am actually obsessed with them. They instantly cheer up my mood and I love all their different shapes and colors, the reflections that they create on a building, a street, or a person who is just passing near them. They create unusual and artistic color contrasts and they light up the dark like small artificial stars. Luckily I do not think I am the only one who loves Christmas lights and ornaments, because here in Italy there are lots of cities which set up tons of lights in their historical centers, like the famous Lucernarie of Salerno. I totally recommend you to check them out. 

Ultimately we have the two most typical things for Christmas in Italy (and I think all around the world): relatives’ reunions with tons of food. I understand that relatives can be hard to digest, more than the food they bring on Christmas’s Day. All their pressing questions about your private life, stupid jokes while you are playing cards, annoying nephews screaming and crying, the impossibility of starting a conversation without being told that young people nowadays are lazy and cannot do anything, or infinitive discussions about politics and soccer that will make you give up on mankind. Moreover, we even have people who have recently lost a member of the family, and enjoying this time of the year with a hole in your heart and an empty seat at the family table is the most difficult thing a human can probably do. For those people I have nothing else to say but that time and the love of the rest of the family will help to heal your heart, so do not isolate yourself and try to focus on positive things like: the happiness that your mother feels having you back home, the children’s smile when they open their presents, the sense of pride your grandmother feels when you have eaten all the food you have made together, helping each other, and your uncles' laughter that fill up the room after they have opened the third bottle of wine. Having your whole family gathered can be a mess, but a beautiful mess that will refill your heart with love and affection. And I think that is the real Christmas spirit I am so lucky to feel every year: the love and support I get from my whole family reunited, the delicious food we eat, the nostalgic but sweet memory of those who are not here anymore, the feeling of gratitude I have admired all the things I have and the hope for a new year full of joy and success. That is the best part of my Christmas, and I hope everybody will be able to experience all of that this year. I will finish my rambling speech about Christmas with a quote from Chris Martin of Coldplay:

                           “Those Christmas lights light up the street. May all your trouble soon be gone,                                    Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on.”