Christmas doesn’t look like Christmas without snow. I remember the magic of winter days when, walking in the city centre, I lifted my eyes and saw the first snowflakes falling, landing on my coat and on the tram roofs, beautiful crystals nestling on my gloves to be admired before melting. Christmas is linked to memories. Images printed in my memory, paintings decorating my mind.
♥ A wooden hut with a sloped roof, covered in snow, in the main square of Bergamo. Children are queuing up to leave their letter to Santa Lucia, in keeping with tradition. The streets are decorated with Christmas lights, and a little girl counts the Christmas trees in the gardens or in the windows with their intermitting lights, on her road back home.
♥ The nativity scene built around the fireplace, with real musk from the fields, pine woods branches, hollow logs and clay little statues, inherited from the grandparents. The silence of the night with the only light of the crackling fire in the room, Christmas melodies from the music box and the faith in what cannot be seen.
♥ Mornings when it’s nice to oversleep, in the quiet atmosphere of Christmas holidays. Getting up only to have breakfast with tea and cookies, and then spending a lazy morning on the sofa, watching a children’s movie like Mickey Mouse’s Christmas Carol.
♥ A Sunday in New York City, in December 2006. The city lights turned into Christmas lights, the shop windows looking like elegant houses, decorated for Christmas. Ice rinks, silver trees, trays full of sweets and chocolates. Men, women and children from all over the world are walking in the streets, bewitched by the pagan magic.
After a shopping expedition, I meet three friends of mine in front of a movie theatre next to Madison Square Garden. Each of us is carrying a shopping bag, wearing coats and woolly hats, and worn boots. One of us is leaving for London, the others have a few more weeks left in the US before going back home.
We are here to watch The Holiday with Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, and this movie immediately becomes one of my favourites. The English cottage in the snowy countryside with the lit fireplace, or the warm wind and the big house in Los Angeles? Two opposite worlds, two different emotions. I can feel both.
♥ A tall Christmas tree in the hall of the residence that has been my home for two months. A silver angel is watching me from the top, as I sit down with my Austrian roommate wondering how can time go by so fast.
♥ A winter afternoon in Paris, on the Champs-Elysées, with trees decorated with Christmas lights and a deer made of straw in a shrubbery. Spending Christmas in Paris and walking under the sun and the clear blue sky is a welcome surprise, and I spend hours watching people skating before the city hall.
♥ Campo de’ Fiori, Rome. The stalls are selling hats, woolly gloves and scarves, and I buy myself a striped scarf while waiting for a friend for our Christmas shopping afternoon. We talk about work and life, movies and books, families and plans for the holidays. I buy some sweets and a scented candle to place in my room, so that I can smell cinnamon while eating on my beloved Ikea chair.
♥ An evening in London with a special friend, after buying the ingredients for a cake. We turn on the oven and make a chocolate cake in her country-chic style kitchen, with the small balcony from which I can see the black, red and green doors of the neighbours’ houses. Nuts, cocoa, flour, sugar, sunflower oil and baking powder, and then our cake rises and rises until it looks like an Italian “panettone”.
♥ The magic stories for children that I used to read when I was in secondary school, so full of magic and deep meaning. And Harry Potter.
My Christmas Movies
A Christmas’ Carol directed by Robert Zemeckis and Mickey’s Christmas Carol
The Holiday directed by Nancy Meyers
Miracle on the 34th Street directed by Les Mayfield
You’ve Got Mail directed by Nora Ephron
The Cutting Edge directed by Paul Michael Glaser
Love Actually directed by Richard Curtis
Little Women directed by Gillian Armstrong
Harry Potter series (a must for families)
Neverending Story directed by Wolfgang Petersen