Christmas is the scent of tangerines, roasted chestnuts and cloves.
The slow gestures of my mother and aunts, who patiently and lovingly pass on the recipes of my great-grandmothers.
Every year, I eagerly await the arrival of Christmas, especially on our table.
The kitchen, the permanent heart of our family, a safe place where friends and relatives have met since time immemorial, becomes a silent witness to coffee, lunches, dinners but – above all – laughter, board games and much more.
Every Christmas Eve, relatives from all over the world gather in our house to celebrate. A table of about 25 people, all different yet united by the same wish to spend time together.
Endless sessions of card games and bingo, usually accompanied by repetitive but always funny jokes, and topped off by our Uncle Gigi never failing to fall asleep, seated upright, even before the stroke of midnight. Christmas poems are recited every year by cousins and nieces and nephews, who perform dances, songs and rhymes in different languages, encouraged by prouder-than-ever grandmothers and aunts.
I have always believed in Father Christmas, as has the rest of our family.
This clumsy, round, friendly figure has always been the subject of tales, stories and great adventures, especially told by Dad, who has always been our Peter Pan.
Every year, as children, we wrote endless letters decorated with glitter and intricate designs. As the good daughters of advertisers, my sister Andrea and I created real adverts; partly out of inclination, partly out of encouragement. So as children, even more so as adults.
The fireplace became a small banquet, where homemade cakes, cups of milk, but above all fresh fruit and carrots galore, eagerly awaited the arrival of Father Christmas and his reindeer.
Parrozzo, panettone, cacionetti and bustarduzzi, all neatly arranged and waiting to be tasted.
The joy and surprise of everyone the next morning, seeing the presents, wrapped in precious gift paper and velvet bows, waiting patiently under our decorated tree.
The opening of the presents was always followed by lunch, which was traditionally very late. My beloved ‘scrippelle’ or crepes in chicken broth, followed by boiled meat and homemade mayonnaise. A festival of flavours, especially after the ‘great feast’ of the previous evening.
Every Christmas, perfectly imperfect, enveloped in an atmosphere of magic, wonder and unconditional affection. Moments etched in my memory, among the sweetest and most cherished memories of all time. I don’t know if Father Christmas is the creator of all this, but I certainly owe to him the desire to believe in beautiful, ephemeral, sometimes inexplicable things, which allow us to travel with our minds to faraway places, losing ourselves, only to find ourselves again and believe that deep down… everything is possible