Despite the late night, we were awake just before dawn, listening to the rubbish lorry working the street even on Christmas Day - impressive commitment to making ths town work all year round, for residents, workers and visitors. I started humming 'Christians awake salute the happy morn' - that's all I can remember of it. I need the hymn book to sing that one, but it's a great tune. We sat at the table together watching the sunrise bathe the mountains in golden orange light, breakfasted early and after I'd said Morning Prayer, we went out walking - in my case, inspecting the Corso by eight thirty.
Already the street sweepers were out, working from north to south. We were amazed at how little litter there was after last night's high jinks in the section that hadn't been cleared by the time we were walking through. The bonfires were still smouldering, perfect for roasting spuds I thought. The sky was clear and the view of Mount Etna as good as it gets. All kinds of people were out on the street apart from municipal employees, hopefully on good overtime rates.
Like last night, there warm festive greetings were being exchanged by individuals out and about early. The young woman running the Salumerie near piazza Sant Agostino was opening up, preparing for a fresh bread delivery. The Pharmacy nearby was also open. Everywhere else was closed, sleeping off the late night, and either preparing for a family meal at home, or preparing a meal for guests in hotel or restaurant. What a day for brilliant morning light!
There were just six of us for the Eucharist at St George's. So many regulars are either away for the holidays or completely occupied by family duties nearby. There were two regulars, a young couple, living and working in Catania, Clare and myself plus Salvatore. All our efforts at external publicity yielded nothing. Nevertheless, we were glad to be there to sing carols in English and hear the mysteries celebrated in our mother tongue, keeping faith with generations past. They so appreciated this place as God's gracious gift to them, they built a church in which to offer the sacrifice of praise the best way they knew. After a glass of vino frizzante together, we parted company, grateful for each other to share the moment with.
Then, for Clare and I, a leisurely light lunch, a walk down to the beach to sit in the sunshine for an hour, then the ascent home, and the pleasure of preparing our Christmas roast dinner together. Rice with roast veggies - aubergine, onion, red pepper, fennel. Huge chicken pieces - Clare's with lemon chunks, mine with a baste of garlic and black olives mashed together - utterly delicious. Yoghourt, and fruit from the Sisters' orchard to follow. A lovely feast to conclude a memorable day, celebrating God with us, come in the flesh to transform our anxious hasty world.