A plateful of cookies. Some excruciatingly time-consuming to make, others not so much. All of them assembled in bits of time scraped up from the daily duties, evening hours, after dinner and before Project Runway; a half hour after job one, before dashing off to job two, weekends, between house chores, laundry and fiction writing. It seems impossible, but, at the end, it all comes together. The tree is beautifully lit, the crèche serenely arranged in the dining room, gifts unwrapped and sort of less ‘magic’ in their bare selves. The Christmas songs are slowly fading away, as the media begins gearing up for the new year stuff, which, really, should demand celebration? All right, no hate mail, people, but what’s so great about gaining another year, mentally preparing for the January taxes, agonizing over the changes in one’s health insurance, well knowing they’re going to be painful? New year’s resolutions? Know anyone who ever kept them? Exactly. So let’s watch the year in review on some extravagant program on the networks, millionaire singers gaining even more cash as they scream their pieces to the world, encouraging us all to celebrate their monetary success. A monster ball descending from the sky over New York City, like the coming of a new messiah, and we shall all hold our breath and count backwards so we shall be showered with joy. Maintenance crews, the morning after, will erase every last bit of the festivities, and life goes back to its usual doldrums. Not being ‘scroogey’, but realistic. Examining life from a different angle, not distracted by the gleam of fictitious happiness. Yearning for peace. Munching on chocolate-glazed NeapolitanMostaccioli while watching an ancient Laurel & Hardy comedy, nearly unable to control my laughter. Yes, perhaps nine years old, sitting in the dining room (where the black and white TV was kept), next to my siblings, enthralled by the lamest entertainment, not concerned at all about the holiday expenses. Which, in truth, were a fraction of what we spend today. And God knows, I don’t spend much for a matter of principle, so not into the frenzy of Christmas consumerism. The innocent years, I want them back. When people don’t get sick, households run by magic, the comfort of love is profuse and taken for granted. And in the new year you were going to turn ten! So cool and exciting, no? I remember my mother standing by the stove, stirring something, maybe hot chocolate, unusually serene, calculating our ages in such and such amount of time. Avrai trent’anni nel 19…etcetera etcetera, she said, you’ll be thirty in that year, who knows where you’ll be in life? Well, thirty has come and gone, and I found myself a whole ocean away from home, none of us had any idea…Getting gloomy again, sorry. Okay, let’s accept it and absorb it, this new year; let’s give it a chance to do us some good. Let’s watch Laurel & Hardy while eating cookies, or peeling sweet and juicy tangerines. Just a slice of peace, please, that’s all.