And what a year this has been. But to paint a clearer picture, I'll have to begin at the end... The end of 2016, when Ricky proposed to Valeria on the 28th Dec with the sun setting over George Hay Park, with fairy lights, champagne and a few close friends. But prior to this romantic occasion, we all had a Christmas at home to remember. There is something about Christmas with children which makes it all so much more special. Olivia and Luca were so overjoyed, which reminded me how exciting our Christmases were when Tina and I were little. How the wheel of life turns, and how we grow into the moulds of our parents. Perhaps they never leave us, and we become clones of them. I so saw this in Tina this year. And Ricky's long-term emigration plans, coupled with his marriage proposal to Val, suddenly became a reality. Valeria went back to Israel after her short Christmas visit, and Olivia started big school with much anxiety. But it didn't take her long to settle in, and to earn her first of many merit badges. And reliable sources told me about a little playground wedding which took place under the trees of Craighall Primary, with tender hearts fluttering, a ring, and butterflies as witnesses. I thought of Claudia and Deon when I heard this and imagined the long road which lies ahead for them. As the great Prophet wrote, "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth". And Ricky finished at Franco's Pizzeria at the end of Feb which left us all feeling very sad. His incessant energy was going to be sorely missed. Ricky grew up at Franco's, and now it was behind him. He left for Israel five days later to meet up with Val, but not before he had his upper arm tattooed with a design which included his Nona's birth date. On the 10th March, they were married in the Astronomical Clock in Prague, with Scott as his best man and "Moonlight Serenade" as their song of choice. But fate would have it that he had to return, just for a short while. So after a brief honeymoon in Prague, Val went back to Israel and Ricky came back home to stand in for me for a month, while I recovered from a health setback. It was good to have him back home. And during this time, Frankie Jnr and Massi took over the reins of running the restaurant and did - and are still doing - a sterling job. My friend of many years, Twix left us on the 5th March and went to doggy heaven to run around in amongst the clouds. And on the 2nd April, Ricky finally left our shores... destination Glasgow. He joined Paesano Pizza and after a few weeks of orientation was bumped up to a managerial position. Frankie moved back home into the cottage, much to Rocco's delight. Mishka, on the other hand, still hasn't decided who serves up the best grub... a true fence-sitter. And it was reassuring for me to hear the sounds of battle coming from Frank's Playstation, knowing that someone had my back. Easter saw us all at home with family and friends, with little Luca entertaining us with all of Nona Tina's tutoring. Then the winter months rolled in, and it wasn't as severe as we've experienced in the past. In August Massi's appendix burst which saw him having emergency surgery, but between Bern and Tina they soon nursed him back to health. Frankie spent his birthday in Umhlanga and Ricky and Val spent some time in Spain. And it took Jay two long years to realize that she had come to a dead end in her workplace, after 24 years of loyal service, and so she resigned. As I write this, she is at home, taking a well-earned rest. There will be new doors opening for her in the New Year. And so another year has passed us by and as always, as I sit and write the memoirs of '17, I get caught up in the spell of that great seductress, Nostalgia. Reminiscing on our childhood, our parents - their jokes and expressions from the old country, which with time will also be forgotten. I think of all those long-awaited letters that crossed the ocean from my Nona to my mother. From my father to my uncle, and how blessed I am to be able to make a WhatsApp call to my son who's so far away. For the possibility of singing Happy Birthday to him via FaceTime. As I look back over the pictures and quotes posted by my family this year, to get some inspiration and my writing juices flowing, I have to share how Ricky lived a dream of going to Old Trafford and Anfield... How Frank expressed, at the age of 16, that people with luxuries impressed him, but now finds it's people who have found inner peace... How Claudia's baking skills have come full circle... How Jay has taken back her life... How Deon's running times just keep getting better and better... Tina's dedication to her grandchildren...How Massi and Bern are the proverbial pot and lid... Olivia, the junior scientist and karateka, and Luca who is his own little man... How Ricky and Val saw the writing on the wall and decided to venture into new beginnings. And during my recovery time at home earlier this year, I created another family collage which I share with you on this edition of Christmas'17. I lost a dear friend this year, Riccardo Montanari... you'll be sorely missed. A thought too for the many others who left us this year. And as we draw the curtain on 2017, I take this opportunity to wish you all Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Buon Natale. May 2018 be a better year for us all in health, peace and tranquillity... Thank you for being our friends.