In Minnesota for the Christmas Season, but am I home?

December 19, 2017

It’s that time of year again, Minnesota in Winter, Christmas Carols, brisk weather and snow. After watching four movies as I traveled from Milan to New York City, and changing planes to fly to Minnesota, I met my sister at the airport in Minneapolis. I love my sis. It was great to see her smiling face and arrive at her home. Diana was there. The pets were all excited to see me. It should be the beginning of a wonderful time in Minnesota.

This Christmas my daughter and granddaughter will be arriving from Washington State.

My brother John and his wife Kris will be home for the holiday. There are two new babies to meet at the Christmas dinner. Almost all of us will be together once again. What a great experience. Right?

Don’t get me wrong. I am looking forward to spending time with my father, siblings, their partners, kids and grandkids. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for my girls to arrive. I can hardly wait for my granddaughter to wake up after Santa has arrived. It is all so important. Yet, it feels a little odd to me.

We were raised that it is all about La Famiglia, the family. My father was adamant. Our family encompassed all we needed for friends and influencers. He would say, “Go to school. Do your work. But your friends are your cousins and your brothers and sister.” Keep it in the family, in the neighborhood, with the Italians.

My best friends really were mostly my relatives. My cousin Maureen on my mother’s side was one.

My cousins Janet and Kathy were on the Ricci side. I was with them nearly all the time.

Every Sunday we were at Nonna and Grandpa Ricci’s house after mass. We cousins would play for an hour or two every Sunday. We spent our birthdays and holidays together, especially Christmas. Almost every one of the 32 cousins were there on Christmas eve. It was a madhouse. We loved each other, teased each other and found our safety in numbers.

Maybe that is part of the unease I am feeling. I miss my cousins too. I want to see them. But it is that feeling of safety in numbers that feels strange. It is very comfortable. It is tempting to get comfortable and stay here in Minnesota. But is that me?

I think of Italy as my home now. I love everything about my experience in Italy, even the quirky, tough bureaucracy that can be so frustrating at times. I think it is almost like a love affair that I am having with Italy itself.

I love the beauty of the landscapes.

I love the architecture that varies from province to province, city to city.

I love the art produced and on display everywhere in Italy.

I love all the archeology from the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans everywhere you go in Italy.

I adore all the differing cultures throughout the country, a country that is younger than the USA with a History that is almost as old as the Pyramids of Egypt.

I love the fresh and seasonal foods that vary from region to region. Yet the respect for their food, the pride in its production does NOT vary at all.

The wine, I love all the different adult beverages of Italy, especially the wine. White, red, sparkling or still, Chianti or Barolo, all incredible.

I love the people, all of them, the south, north, the Tuscans, the Napoletano, the Romans, the Friuliani, every kind of Italian people I have met I adore.

And then there are the majestic Mountains

and the SEA, oh the SEA.

As with any love affair, sometimes you wake up an look across the table at him and think, what is it about this man that I found so wonderful? What am I doing here?

Well, for me, Italy is what I am in love with. Italy, where strikes stop trains and airplanes, where you need to go to four places sometimes to accomplish one thing, where the language is beautiful, but I do not understand it all, where I want the love of Italy to be returned but I need to be patient. Piano, piano.

Next year, I will experience Christmas in Italy. I may be all alone. But it will be all right if I am with Italy.

My family is always so very important. But so is being true to oneself. I need more time in Italy. One year is not enough. I return in January. I return home. But for now, I will feel safe. I will bask in the love of my family and friends in Minnesota. I will freeze with the best of them.

But Italy calls.

Ciao for now!

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