Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas 1980


This entry has nothing to do with multilingualism, but it represents one of my fondest memories of childhood. I'd like to dedicate it to my brother and sister, my partners in crime during many wonderful years.

When I was about 10 years old, my younger brother was 6 and our little sister was 3. A few weeks before Christmas, one day she came home from kindergarten heartbroken by some horrible rumors: apparently Babbo Natale (the Italian Santa Klaus) did not exist! She was appalled! And so were we, that some cruel kids could poison the best of all dreams and illusions.

My bro and I were determined to protect her from such disillusionment and we proceeded to reassure her with tons of arguments...but the damage had been done, the doubt had been instilled in her head.

The next day she found a letter addressed to her, hanging on the Christmas tree: the hand made stamp was from the North Pole. It was a letter from Babbo Natale! We read it aloud for her:

"Dear Silvia,
I have heard that someone told you that I do not exist. To prove you that its not true, I invite you this Saturday to a sleigh ride with me! Much Love,

Babbo Natale"

She was ecstatic! Her eyes were sparkling, she was happy again! And so were we, proud of our little bravade. Only to find ourselves shortly later banging the head against the wall, trying to figure out how to have Babbo Natale take Silvia for a sleight ride! For starter, it had not snown yet, and the weather forecast was not foreseeing a single flake of snow in weeks! We had no clue about how get a hold of a sleight, let alone a couple of reindeers, and a Babbo Natale impersonator! We were stuck in the hole we had dug ourselves...

We decided then to divert our strategy and focus on the essential: Babbo Natale. And we thought that a picture of Babbo Natale would convince her that he really existed! The only way to take such a picture was that one of us would dress up as Babbo Natale. So, here is one of my greatest memories of childhood: dressing up my 6 years old brother as Babbo Natale, using what we had in the house: my red cape and his red hood, lots of cotton around the mouth and on top of the hood, and my swimming bag as a substitute for the toys sack.

The result was probably on of the oddest portrait that my brother ever had (I wish I could post it), of an obvious six years-old camouflaged in red and white!

...but it did the affair: on the day of the scheduled date, Silvia was super excited. She found instead another letter from Babbo Natale hanging on the tree. At first, disappointment: but upon opening it she saw the picture, while we read the note:

"Dear Silvia,

I am very sorry to cancel our sleight ride, but one of the reindeers is very sick and I need to take care of her. I send you an authentic picture of me, so you can see that I exist! Be very good and I'll bring you many toys at Christmas! Love,
Babbo Natale"

That was enough for her: she was convinced! And so we saved another Christmas of unspoiled magic...


Alice in Austria said...

Clo, this is such a lovely story!! Thank you for sharing! I really love reading about other people's memories, they are really precious.

I'd love to hear more!! ;)

Juliet said...

That is a really sweet story. Thank you for sharing that memory with us. :-)

Eddie Lin said...

I'm going to have to dress up like Santa Claus for Chloe very soon. The sad part is that I probably won't need to stuff my shirt with a pillow.

I think your story should be a Christmas cartoon and shown with Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and A Charlie Brown's Christmas every year. "My Sleigh Ride with Babbo Natale".

Gotta go finish my brain soup now. Happy Holidays.

giovanni said...

Your story made me think about my son who, at age 6 or 7, wrote letters to Sinterklaas (St Nicolas) which I felt I had to answer. I keep these letters in a hidden place and will show them to him when I think he will enjoy remembering the days he still believed in Sinterklaas. Somehow it renders me (il me rend) emotional to think about this. I wish you and your family (including your younger brother and little sister) a nice Christmas and a happy New Year. Un abbraccio, Giovanni

Isabella said...

I love your blog! I'm raising multilingual kids too (German, English, Spanish, and a little French) and it is so nice to see a post from another multilingual family. I'm adding your blog to my favorites!