Bring on Christmas!

If you follow International news, especially news regarding Italy, you know that we have been and still are in an economic crisis.  I will admit that when the “c” word started to make its rounds on the news circuit, I didn’t think much of it.  The stores were full of shoppers, the supermarkets well stocked, etc.  Maybe the bigger cities felt it first.  We in the south tend to live off the land more so than Italians in the north.  When I returned to Cosenza after a summer trip to Toronto, I began to see a very different city.  The first thing I noticed was the windows of the big Benetton store on the main pedestrian area in Cosenza completely papered up with a sign on the door “chiuso” (closed).  At first I thought they were closed for summer holidays, but I was wrong.  Following the closure of Benetton, came the closure of two other rather well-known companies: Coin and Bata.  Things have definitely changed.  Corso Mazzini is still packed with people, but the stores which were once overflowing with people are practically all vacant.  Smaller stores finding difficulty to make ends meet have closed or are closing down.  It appears the crisis has found its way to Cosenza.

A holiday like Christmas during a time of crisis is difficult for everyone.  I’ve noticed that Christmas (which usually doesn’t come alive until after the Immacolata on December 8th) is starting to make its presence earlier.  Many stores have begun to showcase their Christmas displays, the city has begun putting up the Christmas street lights, although I can guarantee we’ll have to wait another week before they get turned on.  Having grown up in Canada where Christmas decorations and TV commercials start popping up the day after Halloween (sometimes even before), this early Christmas embrace is kind of nice to see.  In a place where snow is substituted with rain, it’s sometimes difficult to feel the Christmas spirit.

Christmas is one of my very favourite holidays.  I am always the first one ready to pick out a Christmas tree and dig out the Christmas decorations from the teeny tiny crawlspace.  And, the great thing about Christmas is that it doesn’t take much to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.  This weekend I began sprinkling a bit of Christmas around my room and apartment. I don’t have much in terms of decorations, although every year I try to add something.  But, I’ve come to learn that you don’t have to go over the top crazy to completely change your environment and bring a bit of Christmas spirit into your home and heart.

I hope everyone has a wonderful start to the Christmas season!

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