It's that time of year again.
The holidays. White lights, snowflake decorations, reindeer and Papa Natale.
In Italy most people (I've been told) use fake trees. Last year I made a big protest arguing that Christmas really isn't Christmas without a real live tree, the scent of pine and needles littering your floor. There are live trees here but they come in pots and can be kinda expensive not to mention the care they require the rest of the year. Thus we have a plastic tree (I always grew up with real trees...in Texas there are plenty and it was always tradition with us no matter how much my inner environmentalist screamed). However I have been forbidden to put the tree together until before Dec. 8. Why? I was told this is the proper tradition and I must wait. It's The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary but since I'm not Catholic I didn't know this. I therefore am not allowed. Hmmph!
My husband suggested this year I make a presepio. This is basically a minature nativity scene like the one below.
But here in Italy it gets very complicated and at this time of year the stores break out the minature mangers, Jesuses, thee kings et al. But it doesn't just stop there. There are lakes, rivers, women cooking over mechanical flames, animals that move their heads back and forth, I am talking the whole nine yards here. It gets very complex and involved and people spend A LOT of money on acquiring their minature nativity scenes. For those of you who like pictures this might give you an idea of how involved this all is.
So when T suggested I make a presepio this year I couldn't help but laugh. Sure, I scoffed. I'll just grab my whittling tools and carve some wood or better yet I'll cast a few resin figurines to really get into the spirit of things. I mean, come on. But when I realized he was serious and he mentioned that his mother (uh-oh here we go...) always made a presepio when he was a child I didn't want to be a complete Scrooge so I pleasantly suggested I could dress some potatoes up in little cloth suits and make a river with aluminum foil. I was trying to be creative but he didn't buy it. A presepio??? WTF??? how am I supposed to MAKE a presepio? Since I'm not Catholic doesn't that give give me an alibi in this case? I think I might just make some cutouts and tape them up on the wall. Oh God, how tacky is that? Now my inner aesthetic is screaming. Oh, the torture. The tinsel and fake snow is bad enough but now a presepio? What did I get myself into?