This is a first for me, LHBHS never hosted a guest blogger before and it’s also been a while since I had the pleasure to be on my bloggy BFF’s blog as a guest so it’s about time I repay the favour. Cupitonians from This Labyrinth I Roam was my first fan when I started this blog, well, she is probably the only one to this date. Her own blog is as awesome as she is herself and I’m glad she is posting more these days because I missed my regular dose of her thoughts and writings. We also met earlier this year in Edinburgh, which is a thing that needs to be repeated. We share a love for cheesecake, all things nerd-y and organise our lives through making lists.
Today I asked her to share some of her thoughts and memories on Christmas because this is the season and she happily obliged. Without further ado, here she is in her won words!
My earliest Christmas memory is of when I was four. It was a very special day for me cause we had received candy in school and the promise of 3 weeks off for the season. In those days, that was everything and I was on top of the world even before I got home. When I did, my starry eyes beheld a wonderland set up on a shelf that was usually lined with old magazines and account books. In its place instead was a crib full of little animals, a mini tent and a very happy looking Santa.
Mum told me that I could stand in front of the mini magic land and make a wish to Santa and whatever I asked for, he’d hide it in the tent for me. And so I did. Every day I made a wish before I went out into the village and every evening there it would be – exactly what I’d asked for. My demands were simple. 5 of my favourite candy, 3 of a different kind, 2 for any new friends I’d make. After a few days, I was suspicious. Maybe this loud wishing of things meant that my parents were the real Santa.
Ha! But I was definitely cleverer than them. And so from that day, I would say the things I fake wanted but in my head I would make the REAL wishes. Surely, Santa would hear my intentions over what I was saying. I came that evening to find that that is exactly what was in my tent. It is my first magical memory of Christmas.
Every year since, the air just took on a different flavour. I was raised in a family of development workers and so we were never extravagant in our Christmas celebrations but every year we had plum cake and wine and watched a winter classic on our little TV. We’d struggle to stay awake so we could go for midnight mass – we all wanted to feel like we were grown up enough to do it.
When I got my first salary, I bought a fake Christmas tree and I’d put it up on the 1st of December. Yes, I make no apologies for how enthusiastic I can get. Since my birthday is in December as well, the money I got for it would go into buying presents for everyone – little ones for everyone – just to mark the occasion as a family. The plum cake and wine angle never changed. But every year it would get more elaborate. One gift each became multiple gifts. The tree started bearing ornaments we would all collect during our travels around the globe. Even our Halloween decorations would get a makeover.
Pretty soon we had a ritual in hand. The tree would go up on the 1st. Saturdays, we would dedicate to making Indian sweets – rose cookies and kalkals which we loved rolling on little forks and deep frying. Every Sunday morning would be a dedicated pyjama, hot chocolate and Christmas movies. In the evenings, a few days before Christmas, we’d go from house to house in the neighbourhood, gifting them cake and conversation. That’s the thing about Indian Culture – we are diverse and so all of us share in every festival. For Diwali, we get sweets from the Hindus. For Ramzan, we get biryani. For Ayudha Puja, we all wash our vehicles, run over some helpless lime and feed each other sweets. Which is another Indian thing – every special occasion, be it a festival or the start of something momentous, we ‘sweeten each other’s mouth’ which is symbolic of wishing someone success.
The presents would be under the tree by the 20th. Christmas even we’d sit together in the living room and with wine and cake and by the glow of the Christmas Tree we’d laugh and share stories of the year gone by and fill ourselves with the magical feeling of wellbeing. Christmas morning, we’d all cuddle under a blanket and have a movie marathon.
For the past two years, my niece and nephew have been joining us. When I was growing up, a little girl used to come home to learn from my mum who was a teacher. In turn, she would take me around her village and help me fancy myself a shepherd at 2. She became my elder sister and her children, like her are family. They’re from a different religion but it goes to show how celebrating your moments with another human being need not be dependent on things like caste, creed or colour.
There’s something to be said about traditions and rituals. Yes, it’s nice to have something reliable to go back to in the rollercoaster that is everyday life. But there is something more enchanting about soaking in good will that is abundant in this season. Everyone is more cheerful, the air is full of good vibes and intentions, everyone is more relaxed and giving. Life takes on a fairy-tale like hue and in the midst of everything that’s horrible, life becomes wonderful.