The year seems to be ending with remarkable similarity to how it started. In January, I unexpectedly spent a night in Philadelphia on my way from Toronto to Rome. I ended up enjoying this diversion as I got an opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Art Museum. Two days ago, while flying back to Toronto from Rome, I again unexpectedly had to stay overnight in London as I missed my connection to Toronto on account of bad weather.
With a day before the next flight to Toronto, I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington where there was a very interesting exhibition on opera entitled ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’. What was interesting about the exhibition was that you were provided with a headset at the start and could hear arias from the specific opera that you were reading about as you walked around. This was without pressing any buttons and the music just changed by itself depending on what you were looking at. I still don’t know how this was technically achieved and it was remarkable.On the way to the Tube Station, I saw the beautiful Christmas tree outside the Natural History Museum surrounded by a skating rink which made me think about this universal symbol of Christmas.
Rome has a couple of locations featuring Christmas trees, one of them being in front of St. Peter’s Basilica which you can see in my previous post. The other one is on Piazza Venezia which got a lot of criticism last year for being small and unimposing such that the City ended up trying to make it look more impressive by placing a huge star on top. This year, a taller one was installed but lo and behold, a few days later it looked dried up so that people began referring to it as ‘spelacchio’ which means mangy or bald and remarking that it looked like a toilet brush. It has turned into a symbol of the decline of the city which many attribute to the alleged ineptitude of the Mayor Virginia Raggi of the Cinque Stellae populist party. She has publicly declared that she is not standing again after the end of her term. After the tree being an object of shame for two years in a row and written about in international newspapers, the new Mayor will feel obligated to make a careful choice.
Back in Toronto, we have our own beautiful permanent Christmas tree outside the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park. I passed by it this evening and it looked festive and majestic covered in lights. Three Christmas trees in three countries in a week. I’m beginning to feel like a Christmas tree judge!
Anyhow, a very happy Christmas to all my readers. This is such a special time for those of us who have families and loved ones to spend it with but let us also remember that Christmas can be a difficult time for those who are alone, or ill or in places of conflict and spare a thought or better yet a helping hand if we come across someone in that situation.