Revolutionary road

So then came Christmas, the holiday dreaded by all singles. I find it funny that in Finland our leading TV channel chooses to run both Bridget Jones movies during Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Seems like they really want to rub it in your face if you’re single, and make us suffer more by reminding us of something we don’t have. I mean, there are tons of “lighter” Christmas movies, like The Holiday, Home Alone and Love Actually to mention a few, but they didn’t show those movies. Instead they chose to show movies that tell about a girl becoming every year more desperate in the hunt for the right one. Ironic.

I happen to love Christmas, which I believe is all thanks to my family that has always made it a pleasant celebration. Even though my family is small and has a lot of boiling problems beneath the surface, we all seem to get together during Christmas and celebrate the facts that Christmas is all about; cherishing and thanking each other for the year gone by. Not until recently, I wasn’t aware that there are people that hate Christmas, actually try their best to run away from it. I think that is very sad, since Christmas comes around once a year.

A lot of running. I wish that the city of Helsinki would offer more alternatives to people that do not have families or friends with which they can celebrate Christmas. I feel that it is the duty of the country of Santa to provide Christmas or at least Christmas spirit to everybody. I mean, that is the least we can do. And even though Lapland is the home of Christmas, even the capital has to share the responsibility since the city functions as a gate to Finland. I was astonished, in a bad way, of the fact that during Christmas, there is almost nothing to do in Helsinki. Stores are closed and the streets are empty. When I came home to get some things to take to my mom’s place on Christmas day, I found a ghost city even though I live close by to the center of Helsinki. I was very disappointed but also motivated. As a student of tourism, I feel it’s my duty to try to change this. Maybe raise a voice to the city of Helsinki. If nobody makes it clear that there is a lack, no actions will be taken. Seeing as I have worked for the Tourist Office of Helsinki, I’ll see what I can do.

When it comes to spending time with your family, Christmas brings matters that you wouldn’t consider during the rest of the year to the surface. As children grow older, they are faced with an ever-changing reality. I find it hard, even tough, to notice every Christmas that I and my sister are getting older and even worse, that our mother is doing it too. There is nothing more mind racking that realizing that the person that has brought you up is getting older and cannot manage to do the same things anymore, not even the things that that person in question has taught you. Realizing this gives you anxiety, almost panic. If the person who taught you to do a specific thing does not manage to do that thing anymore, it is up to you to continue the heritage. I guess it is true that with age follows higher level of responsibility, even unwanted of the kind.
Concerning Christmas, I actually enjoy the most planning the presents I give to my friends and family. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing somebody open up your present and becoming extremely happy. The talent is to notice all kind of small remarks made during the year about a person’s small and insignificant wishes, and turning those wishes into reality during Christmas. The element of surprise is vital.

I’ve noticed that people have become more family oriented when it comes to presents. I mean, nowadays, people only give presents to their immediate families and closest friends. I like to remember unexpected persons that have lightened up my year. I wish the people I met during my exchange year would live closer, so I could give them Christmas presents in person. Instead, I tried to send all of my closest friends Christmas cards, even to the other side of the world. I miss those people very much, but I am extremely happy to notice that they still remember me and that our memories will never fade out. I believe that something made us meet each other in that small town of Castellanza in north Italy. Time will make us see how our paths cross again on this revolutionary road we call life.

I was incredibly happy to hear from E, the girl I used to look after as an au pair, when I worked in Milan 2005-2006. She wrote me a letter for Christmas. When I worked in Milan, she was just four years old. Now she’s already in second grade and knows how to write and read. Amazing. As we grow older, in our mind we never grow older. It’s when you know a child and follow that child’s development that you realize how time goes by. I am very grateful for the constant contact I have with E and her family. It makes me believe that the year I spent in that family meant something, that I actually made a difference in those people’s lives.

As time passes, I can notice that people assume that my interest in Italy has decreased. That the feelings I felt towards that place slowly but definitely fade out. This is of course not true. Still, there is not one day that passes that I don’t think about Italy. Italy is not only a place for me: Italy is a sum of emotions.

A smell of fresh coffee. A marocchino, my favorite. Italy is an old lady on a small street. Nuns and munks among regular people on the underground. Italy is street signs written still by hand. Tradition. Italy is a guy or girl on a scooter, sometimes dressed even in a suit. Italy is the constant innovation things, like the pizza – from only a piece of bread to something far more, a complete dish. Italy is brochettes, lemons, rocket salad, olives, wonderful pastries, pasta, gorgonzola, focaccia, mozzarella. A true passion for food. Sunglasses. High heals. Beautiful women, and even more beautiful men. Elegancy. Buzy cities. Coffee in a bar. Lunch eaten on the street. Tractors, fields, lakes, mountains, beach, forest, houses built on a cliff. Clear blue sky and fog. Aperitivo. Graffiti. Pepperoncini. Salame. Melanzane. Zucchini. Stores for specific products, like bakeries, meat stores. Italy is music. Nightlife, huge clubs, house, djs and vocalists. Limoncello and Campari. Noise.  

Italy is smells, tastes, sounds, images and feelings. I will never forget Italy and what it gives me every day. What it stands for to me. I miss Italy every day but Italy is with me in every breath I take. Not as a place but as the emotions it awakened in me.

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