Tuesday, December 20, 2005
MERRY CHRISTMAS! It might be looking a lot like Christmas where you are…but around here its beginning to look a lot more like the 2006 Olympic Winter Games – which means I will be spending the holiday season in Turin in preparation for the February event. Despite the road work and construction and frenetic pace associated with hosting an Olympic Games, the city is decked out for Christmas in a spectacular light display, as you can see above, that rivals anything I have seen in my previous travels.
After six weeks of looking high and low for appropriate Christmas cards, I have finally abandoned all hope. Who knew that Christmas cards, without Disney characters, would be nearly impossible to find in northwestern Italy and now without the time “for yet another trip to Florence” for proper Christmas stationary – I offer this “Christmas Letter” in lieu of Donald Duck.
What would have been Thanksgiving weekend where you are (that’s right Virginia – hard to believe – but American Thanksgiving is not celebrated outside of …America) marked the half-way point of life here in Italy. I will be looking forward to my return to Northern New Mexico in April – and not moving again until Beijing 2008!
The Piemontese have been remarkable hosts – I must admit that the Italians in my part of Italy are some of the kindest, friendliest and most polite humans I have met in twenty years of traveling. I reminded everyday the importance of the “kindness of strangers” and that when we open our hearts and minds to the possibilities that other cultures might have something to share – our lives are quite often enriched. I know that my own life has been enriched immeasurably during the time I have lived here and I will never forget what a well-meaning smile and a hello can do to change the world.
I hope you have a Buone Fere and Merry Christmas Season and that your holidays are full of time spent with family and friends. I will definitely be missing my family and my annual trip to Oklahoma, not to mention my friends and family in New Mexico. However, before you start feeling too sorry for me – I will have to admit that there is a chateau in the south of France that has my name on it for the long Christmas weekend. I will be joining a handful of other expat friends in Provence, just a short drive over the border, for Christmas and then reconnecting with my Athenian friends in Istanbul for the long New Year’s weekend. I am hoping that the black-eyed peas arrive from home in time for my departure to Turkey.
My year in Athens and this one in Turin finally allowed me to work “Bankers Hours” for a change and that has given me the opportunity to see and experience this part of the world, on weekends anyway, at my pace for a change. Many of you have asked for pictures of life abroad -- and so I will leave you with a few of those below. I wish you the happiest of holidays and that the next year brings you and your families all the hopes and joys you deserve.
My Very Best Wishes!
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