The true meaning of Christmas is a flannel shirt smelling of beer. - 01 January 2007

Christmas, 2006 edition. Every year more of the same, but I just love it.

Christmas stories: Olaf is a good boy, sometimes.

For me, Christmas has always be the 24th: waiting the whole day for the evening, eating a light dinner and then waiting for Santa Claus to arrive (or Babbo Natale - father Christmas - in Italian), hiding somewhere with my sister because we knew that we weren't allowed to see him coming through the chimney otherwise we would get punished with no presents and then rush through the mighty unwrapping.

Yes, there was the little problem of the incredibly long and boring traditional midnight service at the church, but at least I had a place where me and my friends could start bragging about presents in the middle of the night, something that happened only once a year.

Beppe and girlfriendI always felt sorry for people born the 24th of December. I know two of them. One, a polish girl I met in London some time ago, used to receive double the amount of gifts, the other, my good ole friend Beppe, half. And never a cake.

Dad and Xmas dinnerLunch with MumIn the past years I've always bought him a drink at the pub the Christmas night to make him feel happy, but we all know that birthdays are about selfishness and being in the spotlight once a year.

Sharing the spotlight with Jesus has always been a daunting task for everyone.

Since the day started very well (I helped a Lithuanian girl who lives next to me in changing her flat wheel in a impressive 10 minutes - not bad for someone who hasn't owned a car for 6 years...) I decided to treat Beppe with something he never received in his own life: a birthday cake.

After a quick Christmas dinner at home, when me, my dad, Olga and Bart exchanged gifts (I got season 3 and 4 of Dawson's Creek : one more and I'll have all the episodes with Joey Potter !), we moved to the Texas Town.

That some evening I invited more people than usual and the table was full of old and new faces, including Claudia, a girl who came last August here in London, with her boyfriend, KJ, Jumba, and the usual team: Beppe, Max, Mera and relative girlfriends (Claudia and Luciana, Max is back hunting).

Claudia, KY and KJMera and LucianaClaudia and Olaf

Guinness PieMe and DavideEven my great cousin David was there, back from Thailand and Japan with great stories about local arts and local customs including girls.
Nobody knew about my plans, and when my sister brought the cake to the table, I think I saw some tears streaming from Beppe left eye (he's left handed, so it makes sense). He was so moved, that after many more drinks he paid for the whole table.
Beppe Cries Not sure who made the best deal.

We spent the whole night and early morning talking about our childhood, like any other guy approaching 30 seems to do.

I always wonder if I was the only kid who got corporal punishment with my mum's leather polish belt.

I used to beat my sister up for something perfectly reasonable at the time (she learnt that playing with my Lego was forbidden), and my mum, much lighter than me, used to beat my up with the belt. Now I'm just waiting to have some kids to continue the family traditions.
Some of my friends used to get beaten up with shoes, or by slapping, and among the whole table only Max put a stop at it when he was 5: he stopped midair his mum's belt and said to her "And now what are you going to do?".
She never touched him again.

Jack Daniels HatAs far as I remember, no one tried to touch him again anymore in an aggressive way.
He's made of steel and his nicknames since the ago of 10 used to be Bull or the Terminator.
I learnt my lesson when I was 13 and I had a fight with him: after 5 minutes I kept running back throwing stones to keep him at some distance.

This is the problem of being part of my family: we just do things, for stupid bets or without even thinking about it.
Because we can, and because we want to transform those experiences in great stories to tell.
Everything that makes a great story is always worth it

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