Christmas Eve is Bob's birthday. It has always been the tradition in our family to be sure this day is celebrated and Bob is given his due in terms of being treated special on his day and not just lumping it in with Christmas. I fixed a nice roasted chicken with potatoes, onions and carrots, basted with vin santo wine and broth that we feasted on. It was just the two of us but it was lovely. We spoke to our children and granddaughter who called to say Happy Birthday, and to my brother, a few friends called with their greetings. Our neighbors upstairs came down earlier to invite us to come with them to their son's house but we had other plans and declined. We hope they weren't offended. Our tradition on Christmas Eve has always been to celebrate Bob's birthday (this year, with a Panettone cake!) and then dive into Christmas by going out to look at the Christmas lights. This year, we planned to drive the Amalfi Coast to do it!
We headed out the door around 8pm. The streets of Vietri were almost deserted by this time, with a few last minute shoppers scurrying home. Most of the stores were closed tight, their windows dark. But the Christmas lights twinkled and the city looked so sweet. On the main streets in Vietri they have strung lights across from one side of the street to the other - in a wave of blue lights with white ones hanging down. I told Bob it reminded me of the waves of the sea with reflections of the stars twinkling. He told me I was a dork. There was some traffic on the coast road, but not as much as normal. Every little town along the coast is decorated for Christmas. We passed Cetara, with white lights and stars on the seaside, Maiori's main promenade and shopping street ablaze with lights as we drove past. From Ravello up high we saw bursts of fireworks.
The crescent moon was golden above where the coastline wraps around to Amalfi and Bob stopped and took out his tripod and made a few photos. Which he did several times on our drive. Atrani was like a Presepe (Nativity scene) come to life, with colored lights on the houses and the little churches up in the mountain above the town. Amalfi glistened. Positano had a wonderful Presepe set into a side of the mountain with a net of stars above the little houses. The city itself was like a fairytale to me, Christmas lights glowing from every tier of this steep and layered city, down to the sea. There were more fireworks there and we tried to find a vantage point but they were over before we could. Each little town was quiet and still, the inhabitants celebrating indoors with their families, a few tourists wandering around, happy expressions on their faces.
We spoke to our daughter Jessica and I tried to describe to her what was before our eyes. We thanked her for the lovely gifts she had sent. A jacket for me, a book for Bob and a couple of scarves she had knitted herself that we both love. Chris sent us a gift certificate so we can shop for ourselves.
By 10pm we were getting tired and decided to take the faster route home, north to Naples and then south along the autostrada back to Vietri rather than retracing our route along the Amalfi Coast road. We were home before midnight ready for sleep! Today we have been invited (and accepted) to go with Antonio and Nunzia and their little 15-month old son Manuel, to Nunzia's parents' house to celebrate Christmas Day with her family in Cetara - one of my favorite cities on the Amalfi Coast. We are looking forward to it very much. Now it is after 9am and I think I'll go make my morning cappuccino and step outside to see what the weather is like. The sun is shining and there are only a few wispy clouds.
Rosemary e Robert