Christmasy music has been playing 24/7 on some radio stations since November 1st. Windows have been dressed in red & green since Halloween, and Santa decorations compete with pumpkins (Although, just for the record, it's great for finding a Befana should you so desire). But this year, it seems Americans have an urgency to just get Christmas underway. With so much that has gone so wrong for so many, it seems Christmastime or ‘the holidays’, including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa just couldn’t come fast enough. People decorating their houses and yards to such an extent, you’d think Santa Claus was setting up a franchising network starting with your next door neighbor’s front yard.
It’s been a long while since I spent Christmas in the USA and it's usually a bit overwhelming. I prefer the Italian, more understated, more traditional celebrations, right down to the Vienna Philharmonic annual concert broadcast each New Years Day. Last year, hardly anyone noticed we were missing the gorgeous Christmas tree near the Colosseum, but thousands still flock to hear the Pope’s Christmas greetings.
America always seemed more about spend spend spend instead of spend some time with loved ones. But judging from the empty parking lots around the near-empty shopping malls, the store closures and the numerous articles on helping those less fortunate, maybe we’re actually having a helluva celebration. My nephews have rung the bells for the Salvation Army, sung for the old folks in the area, given toys for tots and more. Heck – even the number one movie depicting America’s grim present, Up in the Air is the big Christmas Hit (although I'd prefer to see Alvin-The Squeakuel…)
Thanks to the internet, as I reconnect with people from elementary school, old colleagues, friends and family while baking cookies, wrapping gifts and hearing choir concerts, well, I think it’s going to be a Buon Natale after all, and a pretty Buon Anno too.
Tanti Auguri a Tutti –wherever you may be celebrating the holidays.