56. Ornamenti

I love my Christmas tree. Every ornament has great sentimental value to me. Some date back to 1952, when my mother, celebrating her first Christmas (with me!) in Somerset, Massachusetts, ordered them from the Sears Roebuck catalogue. Others signify political leanings, or depict my children at various ages, or identify me as a dog lover. I often buy them on my travels, and of course, most of these come from Italy.

The first nativity scene — or presepe in Italian — is said to have been created in 13th-century Assisi by Saint Francis himself, using live people and animals to play the roles. But I associate Christmas figurines, whether for a crèche or for a tree, as very southern Italian, Napoli in particular. It is not unusual to come across a nativity scene by the side of the road year-round in places like Amalfi and Sicily, with the village life being depicted looking suspiciously more recent than 2000 years ago. I make a pilgrimage to New York every December to see the Neapolitan Christmas tree display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Via dei Tribunali in Naples is lined with one shop after another, all crammed with angels, Virgin Marys, donkeys, magi and the rest. Sometimes, you can see the actual artist at work at his craft;in other cases, you wonder if they are truly made in China. I have made it my thing to collect Italian angels, so after all these years, the top of my tree (closest to Heaven, of course) is loaded with them.

3 thoughts on “56. Ornamenti

  1. I have that Santa – I have looked always for one that was just like it. Mine has the same scratches and a dent or two in the plastic. I have carried that around with me wherever I happened to be. I did attempt some repairs with black and red sharpies…My dad got that for me in the 50’s. A great memory!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s