The Magic and Curse of Christmas by Angela Guidolin
Day 21 Advent 2017
When I was a child in the ’70, my parents had just started their own ice-cream business. To me, it meant not seeing much of them, having a few toys to play with (that sometimes my mum was forced to give as a present to other children if we were invited to social events like their First Communion for example), and clothes handed down from older cousins.
Christmas Day was a rare occasion to celebrate, and the anticipation for the family reunion and the chance to play with my cousins filled me with joy. Not to mention the expectations for the gifts I would find under the Christmas tree at my granny’s! However, delusion would quickly set in as my presents came always with the caveat, “For today and for your birthday but it’s so big!”
Yes, I am one of the lucky people who was born on 31st December. To add insult to injury, usually there would be just a birthday cake for me, but no party, because my guests’ parents would be too busy getting ready for the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Growing up, I’d celebrate my birthday with my friends in mid-December or on the 31st, but eventually I stopped altogether because I’m always 28, you see.
I’m sorry I’ve digressed. Let’s go back to Christmas. During the festivities we used to enjoy visiting the various Nativities displayed in nearby churches, farms and schools. Some would be small and made with simple materials, others elaborate and covering a huge surface.
Another family tradition used to take place at the Sunday market, where we loved to drink the hot chocolate (or the mulled wine when I was much older), sold for a small price by a local charity, near a gigantic Christmas tree, listening to the Christmas carols spread all over the town centre via loudspeakers.
The magic of Christmas disappeared for me when at 18 I walked out of the Catholic Church and became an atheist. That was a revolutionary act in a small Italian village 30 years ago.
Many years later, I was living in France and pregnant with my only daughter. She was due on the 26th December. Yes, 26th December! No, I couldn’t let that happen her to her too. The curse of half presents for Christmas and half for birthday had to be lifted. So in my meditations and talks to her I often urged her to be born either in the beginning of December or in January. I must have been persuasive because she was born on the 4th December, the first day she could be born safely.
And with my daughter the magic of Christmas has come back into my life. I’m not merely talking about the photos taken with Santa Claus, and the plates filled with carrots for Rudolf and cookies for Santa, left by the window in the sitting room when she was little. I’m talking about the hope for a better future, the hope that whatever is in store for humanity, we will unite and rise to the challenge. For our children’s sake.
Angela Guidolin is a science fiction author and lives in Folkestone (UK) with her child. She has recently released the science fiction romance novella Across Spacetime. She blogs at www.angelaguidolinauthor.co.uk