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Today’s delightful Advent Calendar Post features an excerpt from my bookBecause I’m Small Now and You Love Me —  just released this year and full of cross-cultural adventures in parenting and living in Italy.

This, from chapter twenty, is especially fitting for the Christmas season as it explores our daughter Lulu’s deep concern for what she believes is a potentially BIG problem with Santa Claus!

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Excerpted from “Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me”

IN THE UNITED STATES, of course, he’s known as Santa Claus. When we lived in France, Lulu called him Père Noël, and now here in Italy, he is adorably known as Babbo Natale. I say “adorably” because the word “babbo” is a very special Tuscan contribution that doesn’t translate simply as “father.” It has a more endearing and intimate meaning, like “daddy.” Therefore, the Italian holiday gift-giver isn’t “Father Christmas,” he’s “Daddy Christmas.”

“He’s also “extremely chubby,” Lulu said one December day. And it was true.

As Arezzo shopkeepers started putting up their holiday decorations around the Corso Italia and other roads within the town’s medieval historic center, all the red-costumed, white-bearded Babbos’ protruded, paunchy tummies were just like the image of our American, jolly old elf made famous by Clement Moore, Thomas Nast, and the Coca-Cola company. We were standing outside of the Rustica Bottega Toscana watching a large, animated Santa Claus, er, Babbo Natale, play the saxophone.

“He must eat a lot of pasta,” Lulu observed. “And gelato.” I had been working on Lulu to try to get her to eat more “healthy foods,” and I admit I had mentioned that a daily diet of ice cream or spaghetti with butter and parmesan would not help her grow fit and strong, but could make her become soft and “chubby.” I didn’t want to give her a complex, but I did want to stress “you are what you eat.” With her observation about the apparent poor eating habits of this robotic Santa, it appeared she’d received the message.

“Mama, is it true,” Lulu began, “that if you are too chubby, your heart will get squeezed and you will get dead?”

“Well, yes, Lulu,” I replied, not sure where I was going to go with this. I mean, I had never said that being overweight made someone a bad person, just that it was unhealthy. But, how do I balance the conflicting concepts that an obese old man—who obviously has not been making good eating choices—was still wise and wonderful enough to deliver toys to all the good little girls and boys of the world?

“It’s true that it can be dangerous for your heart if you are too chubby, and so I think Santa, er, Babbo Natale, is probably on a diet.”

“That’s good, Mama,” Lulu looked visibly relieved. “I don’t want Babbo Natale to die.”

I knew it. She was afraid the old man might keel over before he could fly around the world and bring her her loot.

“He’s not going to die, Lulu,” I said. “Santa Claus, er, sheesh, Babbo Natale, whatever his name is, is going to live for a long, long time. I don’t think he’ll ever die.”

“He will if he keeps eating everything bad for his body,” Lulu said.

That night Scotty helped Lulu write Babbo Natale a letter. Lulu dictated and Scotty wrote. First, she requested that Babbo bring her a snake, and then she asked, “Are you eating anything healthy to help you get skinny?”

*      *      * 

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—- We’ll stop for now… but burning questions remain!! Will obese Santa die an untimely death? Will he take Lulu’s advice and go on a diet?!? To find out what happens to Lulu and “Babbo Natale,” please zip over to Amazon and buy my new book, “Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me.”  Adventures in parenting – and Italy!

Buone Feste, Tutti,

Baci, Gina!

P.S.  If you buy my book, please let me know and I’ll mail you an autographed – by me and Lulu – bookmark! There’s still time to get them for thoughtful Christmas gift-giving! Grazie!!!

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