The air is crisp, bacala is in the cupboard and gifts are being hidden under beds. As volunteers work together, Christmas season in Pontelandolfo gets more exciting each year. The calendar of events kicked off on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which seems to always be the beginning of the Christmas Season. Decorations are dusted off, nativity scenes are pulled out of storage, lovingly placed in a prominent place and the baking begins. Family homes fill up as sons and daughters who work far away return to the village they love best. The bars all take on a festive air with lots of hugging and kissing among friends who haven’t seen each other for a while and yet instantly reclaim the closeness they had as children. This years calendar – Christmas 22 Under the Tower – had me clapping my hands and dancing around the house. I couldn’t believe all the live performances scheduled in this year’s calendar. Sala Papa Giovanni Paolo II – a community room – was recently rehabbed and turned into a small theater. Complete with plush red velvet seats that cuddle your bottom. This season it has a full schedule of films, concerts and theatre. Wowza. So many choices!
Do I dare admit that I am more than a little homesick for the Sannio Hills? I’m in New Jersey, pleased as Prosecco Punch, to be doing readings of my travel/memoir Cars, Castles, Cows and Chaos. Yes Virginia there is a Santa or Babbo Natale and the book will fit in your “hung with care stocking”. But I kind of wish that on Christmas Eve I can tap my nose and instantly land on our Italian veranda. My landlord and great buddy, Nicola, sent me pictures of the house twinkling with lights and laughter. Each year cars filled with kids drive up to see his latest spectacular. He was one of the first people to decorate his home for the holidays. Now more and more people are doing it. I love the magic of the lights twinkling in the valley.
La Casa di Babbo Natale is ready! Interesting how the jolly elf looks different in various countries but brings the same joy no matter how he looks or what language he speaks.
Pontelandolfo lives in the heart of every Pontelandolfese in the world and in the hearts of those who have come to visit and felt what we all feel – the spirit of the Sannio Hills. Have a season filled with happiness and joy.
Boun Natale! Vi amo tutti.