Sharp Monica

An honest voice in Italian paradise.

Update from Italy: Sick at Samhain

A few things are certain around this time of year at our house: we’re planning Eleanor’s birthday (October 31). There’s chatter about candy and costumes. And one or more of us are sick. Like, appreciably ill.

Since we moved to Florence, we also find ourselves navigating the liminal space between the twin concepts of “Italy” and “Halloween.” There’s an uneasy rapport between the two. I suspect that there’s more Halloweening per capita in Florence than in any other Italian city, simply due to the presence of thousands of American residents. A strange form of trick-or-treating has taken root in a few business centers in town. Many Italian children dress up in costumes around this time of year – costumes that are strictly reserved for Carnival everywhere else in the country – just to frolic in the park. I covered Halloween in Italy in depth five years ago in this piece, fresh in our first year and full of observations, together with this follow-up piece, which details what happened to me on Ognissanti 2016 (November 1) health-wise, and what wisdom I took from that day.

October has been a tale of medical woe at our house. (Thank goodness that attendant health insurance claim shenanigans did not form any portion of this burden.) We al had a crap cold at the start of the month. Then Eleanor suffered a diffuse and indeterminate sport injury, most likely when she fell on her back in the park while learning to rollerskate, which caused missed school and x-rays, and resulted in much crying. Then Vic and I came down with a second chest cold, which turned into bronchitis for Vic and a sinus infection and bronchitis for me, as is my body’s custom. My aunt the OBGYN swears that there is no way on God’s green earth that post-partum health includes shifting and infected sinuses, but I got nothing else to go on here, and I get them almost annually since I had Victor in 2011. Jason has powered through this past week that Victor and I were home, but it seems now, on the very eve of her seventh birthday, we’re losing Eleanor to the Crud and the party so meticulously planned for tomorrow to “festage” (festaggiare) her in the twilit garden, now has an approximately 50% chance of happening. To an old hand, or bored child, this might not be such a big deal, but for Eleanor, who lives for this stuff, it is an appalling conclusion indeed to two months of literally X-ing off the days on the calendar until her birthday and talking about it nonstop. She is trying very hard to rally. I am trying to be realistic. We’ll make the call tomorrow morning and let everyone know if the party is to be postponed to some less festive weekend. She asked me to bake the birthday cupcakes anyway, so I did. Our neighbors in the building will all be receiving a cupcake care package if the party is postponed for a week.

As for my part, I’m on the mend, and Vic is too, and in some strange way it was actually really nice to hang out with him this past week in the apartment, sharing the nebulizer, comparing symptoms, taking lots of medicine in various ways, and sleeping in the apartment’s designated sick bay together.

Anyway, if any of you have any direct lines to the Goddess of Birthdays and Festages, please send up a petition on behalf of one Eleanor Houston, age 6, that she might be well to host her seventh birthday party tomorrow afternoon in the garden of Gonzaga-in-Florence.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Monica: Wishing Vic and you renewed health very soon, and for Eleanor a happy Halloween birthday and the party she has been hoping for.

    A presto,


    Sent from my iPhone

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