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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2017 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 I n the end, what counts is no t w here one spends Christmas, but how and with whom. It happened to us all, to remember how we used to celebrate Chris tmas during our childhood, or during a particularly happy period of our lives . A yearning for thos e moments, the faces of those who are no longer with us, the tenderness of children's smiles - smiles that open up the heart - the pres ents under the tree and their ritual exchange: all things missed when one's alone and that tend to make this time of the year emotionally difficult. This is true also for those living away from their country. It doesn't matter if 20, 30 or 40 years have passed since we have left home and a piece of heart on the other side of the ocean. We keep feeling a need to be transported, even just for a few minutes, far away, to be with the people we love, to smell the scents, the fragrance of home and to see once more our town, discovering how different and yet unchanged it is. To see once more that belfry, that corner of land and sky, and that field where we used to play with our friends: there, where our grandfather used to bring us. Because of our frenetic, whirling daily life, we often don't even have the time to think about it, and end wondering why Christmas brings along such a cumbersome present of contrasting feelings and emotions, made of happiness and sorrow all at once, often so difficult to bear we try to chase it away from out mind in a haste, lest we shed a tear. But this unexpected and undesired "present," a bundle abandoned on Santa Claus' heart, is in fact the true meaning of the festivity. We are usually not ready for it: it comes all of a sudden, hidden in a flash of memories, crackling through our thoughts like sparkles in the fireplace. It happens while we toast with our friends or while we look at someone opening up a colorful present and their expression - happy, emotional or disappointed, depending on what was inside - brings back something we also, once upon a time, had felt. It's like a picture, that doesn't simply hold within some faces or a faded landscape upon a flat background made of glossy paper, but is The meaning of Christmas and the gift of time, memory and life From the director filled with memories that give it soul, dimension, emotions and warmth, inundating it with meaning. No one else sees them in that small, slick and slightly out of focus rectangle. It's like the s cent of fres hly baked cakes teas ing our neurotransmitters instead of our appetite and senses, and bringing us back in front of an old bakery, holding our mother's hand, our nose stuck to a window filled with cream cakes and chocolate ├ęclairs. It's not what's here, what we see, what happens around us: it's what we feel. All of a sudden, Christmas arrives within us. We can try to chase it away, thinking about something else, letting the traffic and the rest of our day overwhelm us, but it doesn't really matter: Christmas, even if for only a second, was born again in our heart. Truth is, we shouldn't underestimate the beauty of those fleeting moments: they make us understand that our endless chase to the perfect present, our frenzied, compulsive shopping at the mall don't really have any value. That preparing the perfect gourmet Christmas dinner and decorating the house as if it were a design magazine's centrefold means nothing. Nothing really matters if we don't stop for a moment to welcome the gift of that memory, of that sad, nostalgic remembrance that is part of life itself. In that very instant the profound, authentic, real, breathtaking sense of Christmas is revealed and enters our hearts. It's not tradition, nor a model to imitate, because it's different for each and every one of us and because it does change in time, throughout the years and on the basis of the moments and events of our life. It's not memories per se, but rather the value we give to them and to the people who were, and will keep on being, in them. This is Christmas. It's a feast, a piece of memory that, year after year, helps us put back together that jigsaw our existence is. It makes us think of our past, of what we've been and what we've become. It brings hope to get things better or to keep them just the way they are. It enables us to look through what we wish, and to find our priorities. It gives us the push to make that phone call we've been postponing for so long, or to "casually" walk by "that house" to give ourselves the opportunity to let go of that lump in the throat we've been having for months. Christmas is a gift of time, perfect to understand and change, to find and spend time with the people who are really important in our lives, to remember and clear the way to priorities. May it be, dearest readers, a beautiful Christmas for all of you and your families! Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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