An Italian Christmas

Kurumi S. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Spence School in New York.

Christmas Day

10am. I wake up after a deep sleep, hibernating under the soft, heat-trapping covers. Upon getting ready, I greet my host family with warm embraces and amicable kisses on their cheeks. I take a slice of my favorite breakfast pastry in the red packaging from the Dolciando brand that my host mother stocks up on just for me. Looking around the room, I see that we are all dressed rather nice in our blouses, trousers, sweaters and skirts. After some time, we gather all of the Christmas presents under the tree to transport them into the cars.

12pm. We all arrive to my older host sister’s apartment. In the middle of the dining room is a magnificently large table (it seemed to have expanded for this particular occasion, as it diverted from its usual size that I appreciate during our weekly Sunday dinners at my host sister and her boyfriend’s apartment). The delicately laced white tablecloth compliment the clear vase of vibrant red Poinsettia flowers which sat between two shimmering golden candles. We lounge around the couch, watching some soccer on the flat screen television, chatting about the neighbors and about work, and watching the dogs, Eva and Oliver, perform their typical routine of whimsical competition. After some time, we commence the dining.

2pm. We finish the antipasti, or appetizers, and the first course and wait around for the second course to be prepared. Giulia, my younger host sibling, squeals with excitement as she sees this hiatus as the magical time of opening presents. Not to spoil all of the surprise, we each take one present under the tree and discover the contents of our first Christmas gifts of the year.

4:30pm. We finally finish our delicious Christmas-special desserts, along with the sugared-hazelnut snacks and Ferrero Rocher chocolates one of my family members received as part of her gift. Looking under the tree, we continue to open the remaining presents. One by one, each family member opens their presents, with background noises of joyful tears from my host mom and exhilarated shrills from my host sisters. With each opened present I learn more about my family, in terms of their interests and characters. I sense a sacred family bond of love surrounding us.

5:30pm. Before Giulia, my host parents, and I leave the apartment, we take a black and white Polaroid photo using the new camera my older host sister just received from her boyfriend. Taking it home, we adorn our plastic, over-decorated Christmas tree with the photo on top rather than the conventional star ornament. From a distance, we gather around and admire the imperfectly perfect tree with the Polaroid on top. My host mother rubs her hand against my arm in a physically warming, maternal manner. This is an Italian Christmas.

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