The Meaning and Melodrama of an Italian-American Christmas

Dec 25, 2019 370

BY: Frank Bruni

Grandma Bruni lived in a working-class neighborhood in a two-family home that I’d struggle to describe — it was that ordinary, that humble. But it was known for blocks in every direction, at least around this time of year, and not because she went wild with multicolored lights or put one of those sleigh-plus-Santa monstrosities on the roof, the way some Christmas exhibitionists did.

No, it was famous because it was where Jesus was born. And born. And born. Year after year, decade upon decade, in a ritual as reliable as the sunrise and equally comforting. Presidents came and presidents went. The economy roared; the economy whimpered. Friends moved away, favorite television shows went dark. But I could count on baby Jesus in all his plaster-of-Paris glory.

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