There was no snowy wonderland and “Jingle Bells” this year. My Christmas came on a cool breezy morning with bright sunshine of Indian winter. I could feel it among the palm trees while walking in the garden, and in sounds of traffic wafting from afar.
It’s our first Christmas at home together. The living room is lit with garlands, fir-tree is shining with gold and silver balls; bhindi is chopped, rajma is soaked, roasted masala is ground and stored in air tight box. A little magic in the kitchen – and all is set for family dinner, culminating two-week long preparation.
Contemplating Christmas in India was the strange yet captivating idea. The only thing I knew for sure, – there’s no way we celebrate it without a Christmas tree, the very first for Mr. Sharma and first for me in India. I’ve scoured Home Town, Archies and multiple nurseries searching for perfect fir. Lacking time and patience, I’ve ended my tree-hunting in Amazon. Along with 5 feet plastic beauty, I bought star-top, glittery balls, tied bows, pinecones, and lights. My only hope was (fingers crossed) that tree would resemble the one on the product picture. I didn’t consider the time, though. We got the tree in two days but decorations delivery was scattered between 20th of December and 27th January. Excited with this green exotics, Sudhir has unpacked and assembled it in the corner between the entry door and kitchen. For some time the only decoration we enjoyed was single garland which lit our tree from bottom to middle. Then golden balls were delivered, along with other lights. I kept on tracking my order status. It was clear, – unlikely decorations would reach before Christmas Eve.
For a week we were playing Secret Santa in office. After unlearning my gifting habit for five years, in a blink of an eye, I got into festive drive again. I wanted to gift not just to a colleague to whom I was supposed to gift, but to everyone in the office. Daily – to a few different people, so by the end of the game everyone gets. After an hour in Crossword, we were out with the huge bag of smaller and bigger gifts, packed all in the same wrapping paper which made it more signature and less secret. But not at all less fun. And I got the most amazing gifts in return.
Glittery balls, teeny-tiny Santa’s boots and snowmen twins wearing red scarfs came from my Secret Santa, who must have noticed my struggle with decorations delivery. Suddenly our plastic fir started transforming into real Christmas tree. Miraculously soon after some toys arrived early and just on time for the holiday. Must be from real Santa. But the biggest gift I found was the gift of giving. When you give, even little something and it’s sincere, your heart becomes bigger and you get more to give. I stopped wishing for myself, as Life gifted me things I could never dream of, – parents who are my best teachers, loving husband and family, beautiful cities to live in – Kyiv and Pune.
Happy and content I made Indian dinner on Christmas Day, – rajma puri, paneer Kadai, Maharashtrian Bhindi masala and sooji halwa for dessert. We savored it around non-Indian Christmas tree. I was rejoicing this small attempt at connecting different cultures to celebrate love and togetherness, which is simply human. And this is the only meaning of Christmas for me.