Christmas. The Holidays. Now that another year has gone by and I have added more living to my life, I open my eyes bigger, open my heart wider, to the understanding of this miracle called existence. I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of this time of the year. The darkest meteorologically speaking, and yet the brightest, the most festive out of the twelve months. What is the meaning of Christmas? The slowing down of all the regular activities, the clearing time to reflect, ponder, draw conclusions sitting in a dark room lit only by the four candles of the advent wreath? This is a time during which feelings come to the surface, and make themselves be seen and heard. All those feelings that during the rest of the year remain hidden and asleep among the folds of our brain, now wake up and look at us straight in the eyes. I will never forget sitting in the class room during my Waldorf teacher training in Michigan and talking about the topic of the holidays, one of the teachers put it in a very brilliant way, which I haven’t forgotten ever since. She said: “Christmas is a time to feel”.
This process isn’t easy for many of us, one of these characters, for whom Christmas is a miserable time of the year is the famous Grinch. He hates Christmas! Why? Because his heart one size too small. Joy, togetherness, celebration, are hard to swallow for those of us who learned that these things are painful because they are nowhere in their lives. Christmas is the celebration of love, and it must be certainly hard to celebrate something you have or have had problems with, in most cases, your whole life. It must be hard to celebrate something you do not understand, but that your intuition says that it would feel good, warm, welcoming, sweet. You convince yourself that it must feel good, because wherever you look, everyone else appears to be happy and joyful, or so it seems.
For me the Holiday Season has always been joyful, and if I were to answer to the question: “what does Christmas mean to you?” I would answer: magic. The anticipation colors everything gold. Christmas is the time of the year during which everything is transformed, the adults become children again and star-dust lands on people’s hearts. Music in the streets, the scent of freshly baked sweets, the lights everywhere, and then Santa Claus.
What is that phoney rumor that goes around saying that Santa Claus does not exist? I am certain of the fact that Santa Claus does exist, and not only he exists but also the whole magical world around him: the little wooden house in the woods in Lapland surrounded by the beautiful gigantic trees with the branches covered in snow, the hard-working elves busy getting the presents done to take to the lucky children all around the world, the rein deer, the freshly baked cookies, and the peace and joy so typical of this enchanted place. The beauty of Christmas is to be found in the details: the many small lights in the dark, the smell of pine, the white candles, the excitement for the snow, the urge in your heart to make a wish, Or better yet help make someone else’s wish come true, because this is the perfect season to give, give with a heart full of love and gratitude.
If we want for the New Year to be our best year yet let’s get up and move, let’s bring the light where there is darkness, this world badly needs more light. Let’s start with small changes, like a beautiful smile to wear everyday to give to random strangers on the street a slice of our sunshine, just like that, just for the love of the world. Let’s bring some healing where it is needed, warmth where there is cold, joy where there is sadness, light where there is darkness. How can we have a good start into this new 2018, how can we serve our life, our purpose the best? We all have a purpose, our lives are not random conincidences. What is your word for 2018? A word to inspire yourself and others around you?
Empathy is a wonderful world for a New Year’s resolution. Empaty towards ourselves, respecting and honoring the point in life we are at and trust that that is the place we are supposed to be, trust the process of our life. Empathy towards others, getting rid of judgement and strive to meet the other with compassion.
There is no better time than this for me to emphasize the importance of Empathy in this world. Trough understanding and compassion we can face the difficult situations of our lives, with the strength we gain we can learn to transform difficulties into opportunities in order to grow into a better version of ourselves. We need to have empathy in the first place towards ourselves. We need to remember to take good care of ourselves because we cannot give to others unless we give to ourselves first. This isn’t narcissism, this isn’t selfishness, this is a healthy approach that allows everyone of us to be balanced and strong enough to be of use to others.
Do not forget to give yourself time, patience, mindfulness, ease, rest, pleasure, exploration and so on. Remember to give yourself some love everyday in order to make your light from within shine trough and be healing to the rest of the world. Make time for the people that matter to you, tell them what you feel for them, invite them over to your house, cook for and with them, bake cookies for and with them, make them feel important and loved. Christmas time just got to an end, on the 5th of January in Italy we celebrate a festivity called Befana, which is represented by and old lady who brings gifts to the good children and coal to the not so good ones. She arrives in the night on a flying broom. On Befana day it is custom for most families to bake cookies called Befanotti, they have colorful sugar candy on top and they taste just like my childhood.
4 eggs (3 whole 1yolk)
500 gr flour
200 gr sugar
1 orange zest
1/2 cup anice liquor
1 and 1/2 stick butter
2 Tsp olive oil
1/2 stick vanilla bean
1 Tbs baking powder
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and let it cool. Mix all the ingredients starting with forming a volcano shape with the flour. Pour in the eggs, beat lightly. Add the baking powder, the sugar, the orange zest, the liquor, the oil, and the vanilla bean cut up in small bits. Make the dough into a ball and wrap it in seran paper. Set the ball in the fridge for at least one hour and up to 3 days. Once you remove the dough from the fridge, you are ready to make the cookies. Roll out and flatten the dough helping yourself with a rolling pin. Once all the shapes are ready brush with the remaing egg white on to the cookies, this will make them shiny once cooked and it will work as glue to fix the sugar candy on the top of our Befanotti. Enjoy the taste of this traditional sweet food, this recipe has been passed down from generations!