Rocking Around the Christmas Tree in Viterbo

Emily H. is currently a senior at SYA Italy and a blogger/photographer for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in New York. 

I woke up at 10:30 Sunday morning and walked down to my living room in my striped fuzzy socks. My host parents were already taking out the tree from its cardboard box. We took out each branch one by one, placing one next to another on the floor. Suddenly, my host sister exclaimed, “Eccoci!” holding up our “tree trunk.” 

“Sorry it’s not real,” my host mom smiled wryly. 

We started building the tree one level at a time. The bottom was for the branches with purple ends, blue the next. While we were working, my host dad suggested we should turn on some music to get into a festive mood. When Mariah Carey began singing her famous Christmas song, my host dad did not pass up on a chance to show off his singing. Within a matter of seconds, the whole family burst out into massive laughter. “Non cantare,” my host mom managed to say. 

By the time the song was over, though, what started out as a black plastic stand now looked like the big fir tree that I would have back home. We carefully took out the glass ornament balls and hung them on our branches. Finally, we pulled out the jumble of Christmas string lights. Each one of us took a part of it and began untangling. I felt as though I was part of team of elves while we walked around the tree to dress it in lights.

To the side, my host brother was setting up the mini figurines that would constitute the Nativity scene and other holiday sights. Every time I handed him a little person to place on the surface, he explained to me what he or she was doing. He even had me get some water to fill up a well! When he finished, it truly looked like the festive season in a neighborhood.  There was a farmer selling his fruit, and there was a vendor with his pottery. My favorite was the lady roasting her chestnuts!

As we were adorning the living room with different decorations, I knew that this was not something very different from what I did back at home, but it meant a lot to me that I could take part in a family tradition. Now every time I walk into the living room, I smile at the thought of the Sunday morning we welcomed Christmas into the home.

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