Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting things into Perspective.

I have had more than my fair share of wallowing in self-centered pity these last few months as the nightmarish quality to this year, where I lost my mother to breast cancer and had my father lose a kidney to cancer, has taken a recent plunge in what feels like the descent to hell.

Everything happens for a reason I try to tell myself, and as my own health suffers too, I try to look at the whole picture rather than concentrating on the negative. But it's not easy.

I came across a post the other day where they asked themselves where they'd rather be.
I'm in Luxembourg at the moment but I'd rather be in Positano.

If I was in Positano it would mean that I could concentrate on the holidays.

Christmas would be by the roaring fireplace lit only if the breeze came from the sea and not from the mountain. A breeze, even slight one, from the wrong direction, means a room full of billowing smoke because the fireplace, it seems, was built more for esthetics's than practicality.

An oversized fresh pine cone, closed unto itself would release the scent of incense as it warmed the resin amongst the woody petals. After hours of sitting prettily next to the embers like a closed flower bud, it's petals would slowly unfurl and open to the pine nut treasures under each one. With a nut cracker or even a hammer to split the nut, we would expose the tender kernel . It's a tedious job but there would not be much else to do to while away the time.

We would buy the small parcels of lemon leaves dried and tied with a raffia string. Leaf by dried leaf the handcrafted parcel would be opened to get to the contents inside. The layers removed revealed the dried raisins, candied Cedro (lemon) and candied orange peel which had taken on the perfume of the leaves in which they were wrapped and dried. All locally grown.

Split chestnuts , would of course sit on the coals in their rusty holed pan, passed down from the war times, roasting away with the occasional pop and splutter from fresher logs.

In winter, the house is not heated. We transfer a small table into the sitting room, put sand filled snakes under the doors to block the drafts and eat and live in front of the fire.
The house is at it's iciest in the mornings, so sweaters are pulled over our night clothes before we come down for breakfast.

Oranges from the garden abound and fresh juice is always present. Smaller oranges are carefully spiked with cloves and set in strategic places to waft their perfume our way. Mandarins imitate their parent trees in the gardens as they bend the boughs of a the small Christmas tree set on a table in the corner.

We have a sort of sun room coming off the terrace and welcome the pink sunrise over the edge of Praiano in winter because it means that we might go outside and warm ourselves up soon, as well as open all the doors and windows to dry the mustiness inside.

Salsicci (Italian sausages) with fennel seeds prepared lovingly by Carlo our butcher in Positano, would feature heavily in our menu there, accompanied by cime di rape or bitter broccoli lightly boiled then sauteed in light olive oil with garlic and peperoncino.

Le zeppole, a specialty at Positano of sweet fried dough with sultanas, orange and lemon peel drizzled with local acacia honey would arrive from well wishers by the plate full, and figs dried during summer and stuffed with chocolate and nuts before soaking in liqueur would be the after dinner delight.
Sun lit walks on abandoned beaches in the afternoon with the smell of wood smoke in the alleys on our return would be all the exercise we'd need after meals. No worrying about fighting crowds in department stores or negotiating icy roads.

I really wish I was there.

My husband read an article in the paper about the Maldives slowly disappearing and said haven't you always wanted to visit there? I answered that I'm so unlucky lately, that the Maldives would probably disappear under a tsunami because I went there.

My eight year old son piped up " But you are lucky Mum , you have me. No one else has me !"
I really am blessed.


Lucia said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mom and your father. Big hugs!
Your son is cute! I hope health, love and happiness are yours this season above all!

Anonymous said...

This time of year is always so difficult when you've lost a loved one. I know, for me this year (although its not my first without my father) has been extremely difficult. It is so easy to say focus on the positive, don't sweat the small stuff. It takes time! :)

I wish you and your family a happy holiday season and all the best for the New Year!

Smile...right now...do it! :) See, don't you feel a bit better!! *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear this bad news, but your post is inspiring :)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

This is so sad, and really to sorry to read about your mother and father. I lost my father when I was 10, that is over 40 years ago, so never really had one. I also lost my sister last year.

Christmas is one of the worst times for everyone who has lost, and thoughts just go round in your mind.

Your son is so sweet, such a loving saying...and no one else can really say it to you and mean it like your little boy :-) You are blessed.

Anonymous said...

Your son has the right answer. Clever child he is. Cheer up- as least you HAVE Positano. Hope things look up for you as we head into the holidays!

Rowena said...

For me, the last paragraph cinched this entire post. Bless you, bless your son and my deepest condolences to your family. Sending you some love from my neck of the woods.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post, Scintilla. I also wish you lovely things, just like all the other people who have commented. Health and happiness, Sally

Megan in Liguria said...

Wishing you a very merry holiday season. Hang in there and you'll be in Positano sooner than you think!

Anonymous said...

I will try to easen your longing for Positano. It is grey, rainy, damp, there is NO Christmas spirit, no lights aside from a spare few which can be counted on a hand. Shops are closed, restaurants too. Not even a pizza is available if you don't wan tto go all the way up to Chiesa Nuova and stand on line for an hour, becasue it is so crowded (unless they have finished it all).
Winter is HARSH here. Each year I try to prepare for it yet each year it hits me.
I send a big hug and good vibes for yours and your father's health, condolences for your mother (I fear the day...).
Hug your son, he sounds so precious and I'm sure he'll cheer you up.
Come back in the spring. It'll all be gloriously beautiful and much better to feel good here.

Diana Strinati Baur said...

oh man. You have been through it. This has been the year of Cancer for many, my family included. I feel and understand your hurt, and commend your beautiful, loving post. It has been a hard winter so far weather wise in most of Italy (even though officially winter has not yet even arrived) and I am already sort of *over* romantic evenings by the stufa :) But we are blessed to be able to experience such things, and your son is right -- you have many things to love in your life, as I do in mine. All the best.

Monika said...

Oh your son is so right. And just think...in a few more days it's a new year which I'm sure will be filled with LOADS of blessings for you.

Anonymous said...

Out of the mouths of babes! Sorry to hear of your loss. I hope 2009 is filled with health and happiness for you and your family.

I hope to someday soon visit Positano again.

qualcosa di bello said...

your son is a wise young man!

just before i read your post i sat pondering your header & the beauty of it...it is amazing how a place can speak so deeply to the heart.

South of Rome said...

Scintilla, I think you are very brave to post such an honest post. Your thoughts are beautiful. I read this a few days ago but didn't respond b/c I wasn't sure how to. So I let your words sink in. But I'm still not sure how to respond! Except maybe to say, thank you for sharing. I hope that you are feeling better soon, that the sun shines, the lights sparkle, and your blessing continue to multiple. I hope to see you soon, in Positano!

Anonymous said...

Just dropped by to say you and your closest a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year 2009;)

Anait said...

This is such a beautiful and touching post. It's been a tough year-- I'm so sorry to hear about your mom and dad. I too lost loved ones this year, and as the New Year approaches, the thought that a whole New Year is starting without them in my life is heartbreaking. But, cliched as it is, c'est la vie.

Be strong! Instead of thinking where you'd rather be, think of where you are now and the wonderful people who surround you.

Everything does happen for a reason, although we may not realise it at the moment.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and may the New Year bring you love, good health, and many great memories.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss and your difficult year. Your post was beautiful and I hope that you can find some joy with your son (who put it perfectly) and your husband.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Scintilla, My heart goes out to you on the loss of your mother. I'm also hoping for your fathers recovery. Wishing you much happiness and joy for this new year.
Your son sounds precious!!

Anonymous said...

I hope you are feeling better and that this year is a better year for you and your family.