Christmas is a very special time of the year in the Calafati home. It is the time of year when everything becomes magical. Grandma turns her house into a Christmas Wonderland. Every room is decorated with beautiful decorations that have been a part of her Christmases for many years. She created many traditions for her family to enjoy! The one that stands out the most is the story of The Red Sacks and The Golden Bell.
Her family celebrates Christmas Eve. She continues the Italian tradition of the feast of the 7 fish. There is always a lot of food for all to enjoy. The family starts their day around 1:00 with a buffet of antipasto dishes set up in the dining room.
In the corner of Grandma’s living room stands a 12 foot tree. Around the Christmas tree are red sacks with embroidered names of her grandchildren on them. Grandma made each of her grandchildren a beautiful red velvet sack so she could fill with Christmas gifts. As each grandchild was born, she would embroider a new sack with their name on it. In these sacks are many gifts for the children to open. When the children arrive, they rush to the tree to see their sacks filled with gifts. They know that they can’t open them until they hear the sound of the Golden Bell.
The Golden Bell sits on the counter waiting for Grandma to ring it. Only Grandma is allowed to ring the bell. All the children wait patiently to hear the sound of the bell. The only time the children are allowed to open a gift, is when Grandma rings her Golden Bell.
The children wait anxiously during the day to hear the sound of the bell. When they hear the ringing of the bell, all the children gather around the tree and wait to be handed a gift. Before opening a gift everyone sings a Christmas song and wish each other a Merry Christmas. The children wait wide eyed to be handed a gift that they could open.
Grandma also likes to have many activities set up for the children to do. She always uses the Golden Bell to gather the children around the Christmas Tree. They don’t know if they are going to open a gift or do an activity. It really doesn’t matter, because the sound of the bell is what makes Christmas at Grandma’s house fun. They play many games and the children wait with anticipation that she will ring the Golden Bell so they can open another gift. This is done throughout the day until the sacks are empty and all the activities are done.
The last time Grandma rings her bell is to gather everyone in the living room. The family participates in the Nativity Play. Everyone has a part in this play. Grandma has costumes that everyone wears and they all have a special part in the play. Grandma tells the story of the Birth of the Christ Child. This is very important to her family. Christmas is not only about the Red Sacks filled with toys, but about the birth of Jesus. We all sing Christmas songs and go through the stages of when Jesus was born. Grandma always has a beautiful cake with candles for Baby Jesus and the whole family sings Happy Birthday to Jesus and blows out the candles.