When my daughter lived in Sutri, about 20 miles north of Rome, I visited her over the Christmas holiday, before her children, Lina and Ella, were born. Townspeople dress up and reenact the story of Jesus’s birth. They use the cave-like burial chambers left here by the Etruscans.
When Jenny was younger, each year on Christmas Eve, we’d read this prayer and stories from Tasha Tudor’s Christmas book.
I salute you! There is nothing
I can give you which you have not;
but there is much that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts
find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden
in this present instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow;
behind it yet, within our reach, is joy.
And so…I greet you with the prayer that for you,
now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.
Written in a letter to a friend by Fra Giovanni.
Christmas Eve 1513 A.
May you have Joy.