Yes, I have a Christmas plan. I have two weeks off, and I have two weeks to juggle between Christmas celebrations, family events, New Years celebrations, finishing exams and restarting school, a different year, seeing friends, two or even three languages and two countries not including Canada. Wait what? Where am I going? Okay… I will start from the beginning…

As per tradition I am going to Italy. This will be my 19th Christmas in Italy out of my 21 years on this planet and Christmas will never be the same without the light pink couches of my Nonna’s house (grandmother), the bright red table cloth with the same stains from year’s ago, the same caterer as last year, baking midnight cookies with my mom as we battle jet lag, the smile on my Nonna’s face as she tries on her new cardigans and perfume that she got as present’s, the running around for perfect present’s, the celebrations of midnight mass, even though I am not religious and who could forget the annual family feuds.

Christmas in Italy is very different than Christmas in Canada. For starters, the focus is not on present’s, there is no boxing day, gift’s are much more conservative and the focus is on the extended meal. I guess this isn’t surprising for an Italian family meal, but the magic of the meal is really what Christmas is about… the starters, appetizers, salads, first meals, second meal, dessert, fruits and coffee.

What I look forward to the most at Christmas time is surprisingly the mid-night mass. The town square, or Piazza is decorated with lights, Santa Clauses, and giant Christmas trees. The mass is in Italian, and even though I don’t always pay attention, I love looking up at the ceiling. Every church in Europe is beautiful, even this little one in this little town has a mural of angels and clouds playing around painted on the ceiling, the pillars and candle sticks are all painted Gold and it is packed with people in giant fur coats, designer heels and lavish make up. I mean I am from a town near Milan, one of the Fashion capitols of the world. Once mass is done, and everyone piles out of the church at 1 am, we don’t all walk to the parking lot and climb in our cars. Instead, the Piazza is full of stand handing out VimBrole, a warm wine, hot chocolate, a warm whipped cream dessert and pieces of Pandoro or Panettone.

It doesn’t matter how cold it is, everyone huddles around and especially for my mother and I this is really our chance to say hello to everyone, to double kiss every familiar face or friendly stranger. Give best wishes for the Holidays and laugh. It doesn’t matter that I am not religious, but the sense of community, belonging and wonderful happiness always resides at mid-night mass. It is something I wish we had here in Canada…

Check back for New Years plans… and don’t forget to subscribe!

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