It is so good to be home. To sleep in my own bed, eat my own cooking, do work and be productive, or not.
It was a draining trip. Too much food, family and organisation. I got to thinking that it's a pity how Christmas often turns out like that, but then I realised that most of our trips to Italy are not without their trials. So I thought I'd try to pinpoint some mistakes I made, and some I'm glad I didn't make. I'm sharing these reminders here in this public space in the name of extending some traveler's wisdom (or lack thereof).
Do spend time finding inexpensive, thoughtful presents for your extended family members. Watching this little one grin and flap with his yellow rubber duckie nearly had me sobbing.
Don't leave important administrative details (like an international money transfer for the house you are purchasing) to the morning of departure.
Do read weather reports prior to embarking on the 3 hour drive to the airport.
Don't necessarily believe them.
Do offload the joint that the flautist in your partner's band left in your car on the hippy that lives downstairs when you see him passing by, before leaving for the airport, remembering that "I'm just holding it for my friend" however true it may be, does not cut it with most law officials.
Don't expect any increased sociality from said hippy upon your return.
Do research the wherabouts of your airport terminal before leaving home
Don't ever, EVER park in airport carparks, no matter how late you are, and that's all I'm going to say about that.
Do avoid rail travel in Italy at all costs, especially at Christmas, especially on southbound lines, and ESPECIALLY on night services.
Don't be too proud to beg conductors to be allowed to sit in first class because you're tired, because it's Christmas, and because you are not from around here.
Do wake up well before your stop the following morning.
Don't exit the train in a flurry of thrown luggage, strewn clothing and a spectacular flying leap over somebody's suitcase in the aisle, especially if you are carrying your partner's new laptop, and have the kind of bum that just can't hold a pair of jeans over it.
Do enjoy the culinary aspect of the festive season.
Don't eat every course a Southern Italian family serves you, or attend every meal they invite you to unless you are a subject in a scientific experiment.
Do propose your own personal preparation of a dish for a family meal to your Southern Italian Mother-in Law.
Don't expect her to take you up on the offer.
Do keep calm and sweet natured throughout the whole ordeal, and remember that you do love everybody present and that it is all worth it.
Don't think about your own funny little uncomplicated family too much.
Do try to relax, take some portraits, and talk regularly with said family.
Don't worry. The next one is a year away.
Photos are of Salva and Emanuele, Christmas Lunch, and Gabriella.