When I was at primary school I had a friend who was Italian. Her life intrigued me. She was always tanned while even in the mid summer I would remain...let's call it 'ethereal'.
It seemed every time I was at her house they would be having rabbit for supper. Seemed far more exotic than our own family's weekly roast chicken.
Her older brother was drop dead gorgeous and used to drink whole pints of milk from the fridge because he was 'working out'.
Her family used to talk loudly and animatedly to each other in a language I couldn't understand.
They had a jacuzzi (though I think this was more to do with the family's bank balance than them being Italian. Of course this immediately had me dreaming of mafia connections).
She attended Italian 'Saturday school' and even though she used to moan about it, it sounded fascinating and sophisticated - and I felt sure she was meeting loads of other gorgeous milk-guzzling, rabbit-munching Italian men and keeping them all to herself.
She told me that in traditional folklore, coal (or sweets if you've been good) are actually delivered by an old woman, Befana, who was hospitable to the Wise Men on their journey to Jesus. She declined the invitation to accompany them because (and this is according to Wikepedia) she was 'too busy with her housework'. Well, priorities and all that. But once they'd left (and presumably the dishwasher had been emptied and the Dyson put through its paces) she changed her mind and tried to catch up. Sadly, she couldn't find them so the poor women is still searching - but kindly remembers to pop in to Italian households on the 5th Jan to make judgement on little people's yearly behaviour.
I wish I could have had some of that coal at Christmas time. Perhaps it would have helped restore some peace in our house. I swear we got a changeling over the holidays and it's only in the past two days that the arms-flailing little dynamo, who required two fully grown adults to change her nappy, has been replaced by the pre-Christmas little angel I know so well.
Apparently it's the change in routine, and if that's true I'm seriously considering changing my ad hoc parenting style. Right now though I'm just happy to be able to get through each day without porridge on the walls and Sudocrem in my hair.
To January! May it be full of smiles and giggles.