Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Over the years of my life in this country I have been asked by my friends, neighbors and acquaintances a question that never gets old. ''Do you celebrate Christmas?''

I distinctly remember my first time around the holidays. Imagine if you could, being 22 and in a foreign country experiencing a culture that is far modern and advanced than anything you had ever known. Shops filled with Christmas merchandise, every commercial on the radio and TV and conversations among people, who you have just come to know revolves around the holidays. You still  haven't made connections with ''your people'' and your nearest and dearest are 10,000 miles away. None of your own holidays are recognized in any shape of form and even if  you do celebrate those at home, they just aren't the same without your loved ones near you.
At this point you have two choices - Make some sense of everything that is going on around you and be part of that or shut yourself out.

Living with a tight budget like every student of foreign nationality on a scholarship does, for us two Hindus, Christmas was hardly about the religion or gifts under the tree or being around family. It was about missing our families back home, feeling lonely and waiting for it to pass. We chose to join the fun rather than to feel lonely.

After I gave birth to my first son, we bought a little Christmas tree and few ornaments and we decided to celebrate Christmas at home. For first couple of years he did not have a clue.. I'd say the celebration was more for my husband and I than for him. After my second and third child's birth, it was fun to watch them open presents under the tree on Christmas morning. In following years, in spite of having many moments of wondering about why we were celebrating this holiday that wasn't ''ours'' we continued to bring the fresh tree, buy ornaments and cook all vegetarian meals.

Slowly and steadily baking became a family tradition and so did the decorating. I enjoy decorating with my daughter. Each year I made or bought three new ornaments in hopes to collect enough for each one of them when they celebrate their own holiday at home. And just like many of you out there, we have enough stories of our adventures of buying 'just the right tree'.

Now that two of the three kids are settled with their jobs, I don't see them all at once during the year. This year they all will be here under the same roof at the same time for the first time. In fact, as I write this, my oldest is on the flight from Seattle to Philadelphia. His flight does not get in until 11:30 pm on this Christmas Eve. He almost cancelled his trip due to his busy schedule, I insisted on him being here because that was not an option just yet. We don't go to the church and have any significant meals planned. This year we decided to not exchange gifts in efforts to take the stress out of the equation.

Christmas for me is having my children at home, playing cards and board games. My husband taking time off from work and be here in the middle of the afternoons for the whole time when they are all here. It also means I cook many meals that my children have not had for the entire year and if that keeps me busy in the kitchen all day long, I say it's because it is Christmas! I enjoy watching them enjoy their favorite foods and talk about their past. My husband helps me out around the house, now grown kids take turns doing chores and there is non stop noise of  TV, video games and laughter. It is about tradition of being together no matter what.

I do celebrate Christmas for all the reasons that work for our family.

I hope you too have a very Merry Christmas with your family and friends.





21 comments:

  1. I would say that you have the best of the Chrstmas spirit - family and loved ones. I am certain that your children are really looking forward to your home cooked meals. Having time to spend with each other, good food, playing board games sounds absolutely perfect!

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  2. What a lovely perspective! Hope you enjoy your family gathering!!
    Looking forward to knowing you better at the Cultural Fusion blog.

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  3. Merry Christmas to you, too! Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad that all of your children will be home with you. :) sarah@forrussia.org

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  4. Merry Christmas, Sujata! I'd say you perfectly grasped the true meaning of Christmas! Wishing a fun time with your family.

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  5. I really enjoyed your post- at the heart of it, Christmas (many holidays) are about connecting with family, developing traditions, and taking a break from the busy world. Have a wonderful holiday with your family!!!

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  6. That's a very interesting read, I cam completely understand your point of view! I think it's nice to get swept up in a new-to-you celebration and then to enjoy doing it year after year. I know I am still grasping what we're supposed to do on the big Australian public holidays!! I am sure we'll get a better understanding of all the traditions once the kids head off to school!!

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  7. Hi, Sujata. I finally found the time to stop by and wow! you've been so busy! Congratulations on your book--what a great accomplishment. Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season with your loved ones!
    best, nadia

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  8. So enjoyed your Christmas memories and story...thanks for the share--Happy Jolidays to you and yours hugs, Julierose

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  9. What a lovely post sharing your take on Christmas and how it works for you and your family. You have a wonderful understanding and spirit for not only Christmas time but for life in general. It's all about family and enjoying the time.
    Merry Christmas to you! Enjoy your "melting pot of piecing" immensely. Creative for sure.

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  10. Isn't it wonderful when all your kids are in one place? It happens so rarely now. I'm sitting by our tree waiting for people to wake up. There's a gift for me that looks suspiciously like your book! Enjoy!

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  11. Regardless of the time of year... whenever you can get the "kids" under one roof its a celebration. I am thinking of moving "Christmas" to June so that weather is not a factor and the "kids " fly home.

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  12. Making the best of a difficult situation brought joy to your family. You inspire me.

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  13. Sujata you are so right, its not about the extreme present frenzy. Its all about sharing laughter and family discussions. Merry Christmas to all. Carlithequilter@gmail.com

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  14. Terrific post -- you are celebrating for SO many very right reasons! Hope you and your family have a WONDERFUL Christmas day!

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  15. We aren't Christians but we enjoy Christmas and the way you mark the occasion is is exactly how my family celebrates - good food and good times shared together with loved ones. We've had years when we couldn't do Christmas on December 25. One year we didn't do it until March but the memory of it is just as sweet! Happy holiday to you and how nice that you will have all of your children around you at the same time!

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  16. Interesting to read your thoughts and changing traditions regarding Christmas. Enjoy your time with all your family together for this makes any celebration all the more special.

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  17. Having also lived outside my own country, I can say that you made of Christmas time the best of it : When in Rom, do as the Romans do :-) but also : in your home, do as you like it!
    My Christmas time is quite close to yours, first is gathering our three children and have good meals that may remind them of their childhood in a welcoming decorated home!

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  18. What a lovely posting. I think you've found what I believe to be the essence of the season, to be with those we love and eschew the commercial aspect of it all. Good food and family; what more could one ask for?

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  19. What lovely Christmas traditions. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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  20. Lovely post. One of my presents (from me to me;)) this year was your book - and I am enjoying it so much!!

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