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La nostra vigilia di Natale

Sunday, December 24, 2006

For the vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve) instead of shopping, Dave and I were preparing for yet another aperitivo (appetizer party) although I think we can officially say it was more of a cena (dinner). This time, we invited a few less people in the hopes of eating more and enjoying the company of our guests.

I had a few commissioni da fare (errands to run) like pick up one of our quadri (paintings) from the corniciaio (frame maker's) and pick up glasses and plates from Simone's restaurant that he offered to loan us for our aperitivo.

I went to the corniciaio who greeted me by name. I've been in there a few times, like he told me to do, to remind him about my quadri. I told him last week that I wanted one done by Christmas and the other one done anytime thereafter. He said that he didn't want to split them up because once he does one, he can do the other one. Then, in the next breath, he said, "OK, vieni la settimana prossima e il pi¨ grande sarÓ pronto per te." (OK, come back next week and the larger one will be ready for you.)

When I got there today, my quadro wasn't ready. The tela (canvas) was wrapped very loosely around a frame and it was just sitting on a stack of wood. I saw staples going in every direction around the quadro. The corniciaio told me that he needs to redo it because the person didn't do it correctly. I watched him undo all the staples with some tool, pick out another wooden frame from off the floor and wrap my tela around it. He began to pull the tela around the frame and stapled it every which way. I started to feel a little queasy as I saw the tela being manhandled.

I tried not to watch as he undid the staples a second time and staple the tela again to the frame. My tela ended up having holes all around it. He took a hammer and nailed the staples into it. As I watched him pick up the quadro as if it were a scrap of wood, I just wondered how he'd handle it if I weren't standing there.

He picked up the frame that I chose and pushed the tela inside of it. He put in more staples and turned it around to show me. I was very pleased with the result, but I was still a little shell-shocked by the framing process.

He wrapped up my quadro in brown paper and handed it to me. I lugged it all the way home. The entire time I was thinking about how I should've found a corniciaio that worked closer to our house, but when I made it to our building I was happy. Then, I remembered the three flights of stairs that I was about to walk up. I opened our portone (front door), took a deep breath, and tried to keep focused on getting to our apartment. At each piano (floor), I felt better, but more tired.

When I got home, I unwrapped the quadro and showed it to Dave. We immediately put it up and admired it.

I was surprised that I didn't see that many people outside, but I did take a lot of back streets to get my quadro from the corniciaio.

After I got home, I made a few desserts and then it was time for me to go to Simone's restaurant, which is on the completely opposite side of town. I decided to go down all the main streets in centro (downtown) to see what was happening.

I walked down via dei Servi toward the Duomo. On via dei Servi, a few people were walking and shopping, but the minute I turned the corner to the front of the Duomo, I saw tons of people everywhere. I think all of Florence was in centro taking a stroll. I could barely walk through the crowds of people without bumping into anyone. It was virtually impossible. The shops didn't look that crowded, but I think anyone who lived in Florence was out in the streets.

I took a taxi back home with plates, bowls, glasses, forks, and spoons that Simone loaned us for our aperitivo. I called Dave so he could carry the things up to the apartment. The box was too heavy for me.

I was happy that the first people arrived at 7:15PM. The last time, I was shocked at the number of people who arrived at 7PM on the dot. We were ready for them this time, and I even cleaned up the kitchen before everyone arrived. We ended up inviting all the people who couldn't come the week before to our aperitivo plus two women we had last time.

We all sat down in our living room to eat and talk. I was happy that all of my friends got along so well. There was a mix of English and Italian, but we mostly spoke Italian. A few of my Italian friends don't speak any English, so we all thought it would be rude to speak English in front of them without translating for them.

Sara's husband told us that in Italy, they used to not have Christmas trees or give gifts. It wasn't until after the war that the Italian Christmas became more American. Our friends Bari and Elisabeth were in the Christmas play that we saw a few weeks ago. They disagreed that translating the play into Italian would be simple. But, when we found out that the Italians don't even know who Rudolph is or believe that Santa Claus has a wife, we realized that it wouldn't work.

Gift giving was reserved for Giorno della Befana (Epiphany Feast), which is in January. It's the day when an old witch comes to give gifts to the good kids and carbone (coal) to the bad ones.

We had a great time together eating Dave's chili and drinking his margaritas. Again, we didn't touch the wine at all; I'm thinking that we'll never get through our eight remaining bottles. We realized that any time we put out typical Italian items out to eat, like affettati (sliced ham and salami) and formaggio (cheese), no one eats them. My cheesecake was more of a hit than my tiramis¨ too!

The evening ended and we went to sleep with the sounds of the church bells signaling the end of the midnight mass. It was a busy day, but our Christmas shopping was put on hold. And, now that shops are closed on Monday and also Tuesday, thanks to Santo Stefano, we'll be doing our last-minute Christmas shopping on Wednesday.

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