by Laura A

Christmas season has officially begun in Italy!  Yes, it’s even earlier than in the US, but that’s because the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (on December 8th) is a big holiday here.

Since we never found a live Christmas tree last year, we ended up adding to our nativity scene instead. In Italy, presepi are very popular and most people have one instead of a tree.  We even found a store that had a wonderful assortment of moving figures working at all sorts of trades.  The store carried the type of figurines we collect, so last year we bought a Roman soldier (welcome to Italy!), a bridge (for the pig, in honor of the one at the Metropolitan Museum), and a little fireplace with a flickering light, for the shepherds.  Thus we are starting to build a little Bethlehem–albeit a very Italian one.

A week ago we went by the same store on the way home from Sarie’s school (it’s close by) and bought this year’s additions: a girl with a basket, two small geese, a ball of cheese and a prosciutto.  Never mind that prosciutto isn’t even kosher; Sarie was just fascinated with the fact that it and the cheese (scamorza, perhaps?) looked very realistic. But when we got home, she couldn’t find a graceful way to incorporate them into the scene. (No, not even on the camels!) Typing this, I looked up see where she finally ended up placing them, and finally spotted them in a tiny attic loft in the barn, behind the angel. Looks like the young shepherd has found them too!

And the wise men, I’ve just realized, are traveling through the land of National Geographic.

During Advent, we always play Handel’s Messiah, though Sarie has thankfully decided to forgo the concert in France.  So here’s a bit of one of my favorite parts:

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,
get thee up into the high mountain.
O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up thy voice with strength;
lift it up, be not afraid;
say unto the cities of Judah, behold your god!
Arise, shine, for thy light is come,
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. 


And I’ve just realized that the reason these photos are all so dark is because it has been raining for two days and it is dark!