Saturday, 9 January 2021

Recharging batteries: making Christmas

 I longed for Christmas holidays since the end of November thinking about meeting my family, at least in the UK, and about the arrival of my granddaughter Violetta. The commitment to my teaching job at ISL London is rewarding but I was also very tired. The students are fantastic and the program is fascinating but the commuting with London and the long days I spend at school were wearing me down.

Besides, I looked forward to seeing Violetta who was born on the 8th December!💜It was a great joy, the best Christmas present ever. The birth delivery went well and my daughter in law and my son are dedicating all their time and love to their new born. They sent us photos and videos since the first moments of her life. I was so touched and overjoyed I couldn’t stop watching the videos again and again. We planned to visit them at Christmas, as the government allowed us five days at first, but then all the plans had to be changed as we entered in Tier 4 and we had only Christmas day to visit families. We weren’t sure we were allowed to see them, though we kept in touch, had skype meetings and exchanged presents by post. I was a bit angry and disappointed at the beginning because of the sudden change that took me by surprise, but this is how things are at the moment and there is no way to change them. The situation is so difficult that complaining is futile.

To compensate the fact that I am so far away from Violetta, I keep buying and making things for her and sending them by post. I crocheted a top to be matched with a tiny onesie, bought her toys, which she won’t probably use until she is two or three months old, and made an embroidery inspired by her name tweaking the well-known rhyme:

Roses are red

Violets are not blue

But sugar is sweet 

And so are you

Seeing her in videos and photos is not the same as hugging her but, on the other hand, we are happy that she is fine and that my son and daughter in law are coping well with the challenges of having a new born baby. Being the grandmother of such a beautiful lively baby girl is exciting and mesmerising. I feel there is a wonderful future ahead though my husband and I are slowing down, feeling we are more tired than we used to be a few years ago. Violetta represents our future and hope beyond ourselves. 

There was also another great surprise before Christmas. My daughter Irene, who had lived in Tokyo for almost three years to complete a Master degree at Bunka Gakuen University , decided to come back home and live with us. We were finally reunited and celebrated Christmas together. We had also the permission to spend Boxing Day with Valentina, my autistic daughter, who is in care. I prepared lasagne and tiramisu and sent her presents in advance so they could be isolated for three days before opening them with her. She enjoyed everything and we had a good time with her. She played a lot with Irene using plasticine and colours and they made paper chains too.

My parents in law sent delicious Italian delicacies which I shared in part with neighbours and friends. My neighbour Linda sent me special mince pies she made which were a great treat. I must confess, I indulged in sweets, chocolates and Christmas cakes and gained a kilo, which I am trying to lose cycling in spite of the cold weather and attending yoga zoom classes with my group led by the incomparable Shena.  During the holidays, I cooked a lot especially for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. My daughter helped me make homemade ricotta and spinach ravioli and I made duck with marmalade and marsala for New Year’s Eve. Before Christmas, I sent small presents and loads of cards in the UK and around the world and received many cards and books too. My husband made origami boxes we filled with sweets and my daughter brought silk kimono face masks from Japan; they are light and comfortable, an ideal present in these times. My presents for the family were long and warm knitted and crocheted woollen scarves I made starting last summer. Christmas lights were everywhere in the house from the first week of December and they are still on as it is so dark outside that I am unwilling to pull them down. I skyped with everyone, my sons, who live in the north, my mother and sister in Italy and my friends and fellow writers in the UK. My mum was irritated by all the complaining she heard on TV about spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve under Covid-19 restrictions. She compares this time with what she experienced during the war. Though now our movements are controlled, she remembers that during the war there was little food and there was the constant threats of bombing, a much worse time to be honest.

Besides cooking and crocheting, I chilled out. I woke up later than usual in the morning spending a good amount of time in my pyjamas and browsing lazily on social networks or listening to old Italian songs and Christmas carols. I said to myself, if you do not have time to do it today you can do it tomorrow, there is no reason to rush. The Muppet Christmas Carol videos were my favourite during Christmas week, and also the songs by Francesco De Gregori, an Italian singer-songwriter who was very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. His music is catchy and melodic and the stories he tells in his lyrics are slightly surreal. 

Here are some links:

De Gregori, Gesù bambino (Baby Jesus)


De Gregori, Natale (Christmas)


De Gregori, stella stellina (Star, Startlet)


Queen, thank God it's Christmas

Nat King Cole, Christmas song

Ella Fitzgerald - Christmas Songs

Muppet Christmas Carol - It Feels Like Christmas

Muppet Songs: Ebenezer Scrooge - Thankful Heart

And watched the Unicorn Theatre stories:

I felt creative but at a slow pace. It was relaxing and my brain energies recharged though I knew I had to go back to a more structured routine by mid-January. Now that we are in Tier 5, I will work from home till the end of February, which gives me more time and is less tiring, though I have to plan my lessons more carefully and the remote sessions are usually very intense. However, I feel worried about the
increase in contagion and I look forward to the vaccination which will hopefully allow more freedom from spring time onwards. I can see the end of the tunnel though it still seems far away. I hope to see Violetta in spring and travel to Italy too, which I miss. 

It is a difficult time but not the end of the world😊

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