Guest Blog – Christmas Love, Right!

The lovely Wilhelmina Upton (you should ask her why she calls herself that) from Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad has been amazingly nice about writing for me for the holiday. You may know her from my rants in the previous post. Since I don’t have the luxury of travelling right now, I often let my mind wander, especially during big holidays, to places I haven’t yet been. I wonder about culture and traditions and which one I can adopt for the year. This is Willie’s story of what usually happens in her neck of the woods. 

I think I’ve’ve never even believed in Santa. Not really. Not even as a little kid. The thing is, growing up in Germany, Christmas gets confusing, or so I think, at least. First there is Nikolaustag on December 6th. He traditionally brings small presents to children. When I was growing up, it was mostly Christmas cookies, nuts and oranges or clementines. These days people give real presents because everything needs to be bigger and more all the time, always.

Then comes the actual Christmas. Depending on your family’s tradition and partly where you live in Germany, you either get your presents on the eve of the 24th – as in my family –  or the morning of the 25th. If this is not confusing enough, just give me a second. Santa isn’t the one bringing your presents! Again, depending on your family’s tradition, the so-called Christkind (child of Christ) brings presents instead of Santa. So what was I supposed to believe in? At grandma’s the Christkind brought presents, at home it was Santa. With these confusing alternatives Mini!Me knew there wasn’t some magical, mythical creature bringing my presents.

While it is nice to get gifts, I’m terrible at writing wish lists because the things I want most in life are not material. This doesn’t mean I don’t want more books, a new lens for my camera, a new camera and so on, only that these things do not really count. They may fill a void inside me for a hot second, maybe two if I’m lucky but having things and stuff doesn’t equal being loved and seeing love reflected in the world. Some people may confuse it with the joy of material things at first but it really is not the same.

Snow in Seigen
View of snow from my balcony

Maybe I am the odd one out though because I crave love like a black hole craves matter. Does this even make sense? Let me try to explain. I can be the loneliest person when I’m surrounded by an abundance of other people because they are usually not the right people. Not for me. It’s as if I don’t belong anywhere specific. I am either too shy or too forthcoming and direct; never part enough of the socio-economic construct I find myself in. Not German enough at times but nothing else as well. Most days my head doesn’t even think in the language it lives in. When it snows, my head speaks Swedish, most other times it’s English while I live in rural Germany. I either feel dumb or too intelligent for the people I’m with. I’m never anywhere really except on the internet. Which in return is a made up place. It’s beautiful but not completely real.

As a teenager there was nothing I hated more than seeing consumerism around Christmas. Well maybe my father but that’s a whole other story. You couldn’t go to the mall because EVERYONE was there starting late November. The escalators were full of people, trying to find the one right gift for their loved ones. While I do get that gift giving is a way of expressing your love or appreciation of a certain person, it never sat completely right with me. It still does not. When my uncle asks me what I want for Christmas, I get dumbfounded every year; wishing he would stop asking, mostly because I’m an adult and he doesn’t have to give me anything anymore. I name a book, or a cheap DVD box set of some series I watch just to make him shut up. Of course I am by far immune to the joy of unwrapping gifts or even giving them. I do it, but I feel like we sometimes forget the scope of it all, wanting more and more. Personally, I like to give cookies or other home baked goods as gifts because they were made with love and care and in my opinion say a lot more than some generic thing I bought on Amazon. (Don’t hate me Amazon, you’re still my favourite of all the online shops, k?!)

Christmas Tree at Willie's
Christmas Tree at our house from a few years ago

 

What do I really want for Christmas, you might ask. – Seeing my Grandma happy and without pain. Knowing my friends are happy, safe and with loved ones. I want racism, misogyny, genocide, homicide and violence in general to end. I want us all to get along and talk things out instead of trying to bomb each other senseless. I want someone to hold my hand while singing Christmas carols. I want to love and be loved back. Instead I will spend the evening of the 24th watching my two younger cousins unwrap their many presents only to see them disappointed because it’s not what they wanted, or not as much or some other stupid thing.

Happy Holidays!

PS: I hope I didn’t ruin all your Christmas feels with this post. I swear, I’m usually no grinch.

Thank you SO much for writing for me. For all of you, Merry Christmas. Let go and have fun. And if you’re wondering where in the world Santa is this year, you can return the favour by watching him as he sleeps! 

http://www.google.co.in/santatracker/#/village

Happy Holidays! 

5 GOLD RINGS!

More fun with the junior Aussie who said I was “WEIRD” for liking Vegemite. I called her a fake Australian. She called be a wannabe bushranger. I don’t know what that is but I sure do like the sound of that.

In other news, I have blogged over at Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad. It is the first guest post she’s ever posted and happens to be the coolest person I know (and have met) from the interwebs! Go over and check out my Christmas Traditions. Seriously. Click.

Fine, here’s a photo of me kidnapping a goat on my 2nd Birthday. It features in the post. Now, click, please?

How can you deny my face!
How can you deny my face!

I don’t know when I’ll blog next so in case I don’t get to put carols in your head, here’s an old classic from India. JINGLE BELLS YO!

Top 10 Holiday Cards – 2013 Edition

I came down from my room this morning to a delightful conversation. The Aussies had arrived and were wearing jumpers. This is so different to our European visitors who talk about the Bangalore winter like it was a pleasant Summer’s Day.

Dad – I like your hairstyle. What is that thing you’ve used to tie your hair?
Aussie Jr – A hair tie
Dad – A hair toy?
Aussie Jr – A hair tie!!
Dad – A hair toy? Is that like a rubber band for kids?
Aussie Jr – IT’S A HAIR TIE!

This conversation really cracked me up because my dad was being really serious. He was actually wondering if it was an Aussie thing. He is, obviously, oblivious to accents. Which got me to thinking that OMG I haven’t sent out any Christmas presents yet.

Sometimes the way my mind connects stuff is bizarre. I perhaps need therapy.

And since it was too late to actually write out cards, I thought I’d create some e-cards. I went on the interwebs for some much needed inspiration and I was not be disappointed. If you’re as hopeless as I am during the holidays, take heart. Or you could take time and re-create these.

You’re welcome!

90_or-the-tall-guy-gets-it
Revamp your letter to the North Pole this year with a ransom note. Guaranteed to get Santa’s attention. Things we need – A special someone to hang upside down

 

Holy Interwebs Family - Christmas
Don’t forget that Christmas is truly about presents CHRIST! Recreate the scene of His illustrious birthday. No baby? No worries! Replace with trusty pet!

 

Christmas Photo Fail - Children
Nothing says J-O-Y like a group of crying children holding up paper mache alphabets and parents trying to recreate Pinterest cards. I might have to try these with my 2 cousins and broseph!

 

Game of Thrones Christmas Card
Not to leave my fellow nerds behind, dress up like your favourite characters when the risk of you being called a weirdo you have a good excuse to. Winter is Coming! Happy Holidays! Valar Morghulis!

 

Cat & Owner Christmas Card
Seriously, this is most likely going to be my card this year. For those of you who’re away from family and loved ones, for you fellow introverts, for you whose spirit animal is grumpy cat. Have cat, will pose!

 

Parent Christmas Card Fail
Christmas is the best time to show everyone what a great partner, sibling, spouse, parent you are. Drink the wine and poach baby at 300 degrees.

 

Japanese Horror Christmas Card
This is an actual Japanese Christmas Card from the 1950s. I have nothing to add to this except – JAPAN! *shakes my head*

 

Reindeer Zombie Christmas Card
Who doesn’t love a good zombie story even if it features Santa and his elves fending off ravenous zombie reindeer! The season of Peace and Love is upon us! OLE!

 

Family Choir Cat Christmas Card
For a family of singers who can’t get enough of them carols. Get the family pets involved and jingle all the way!

 

Silent Night Kids
If there are people in your life that you just can’t get to shut up this holiday, this is the perfect way to get peace of mind for 1 hour. Things you need – Kids/Annoying People, Fairy Lights & Duct Tape

Edge of Desire

Amma told us at dinner that Agnes Aunty had started baking cake again. We didn’t have calendars in the house, just an old time piece on the shelf behind God’s photos and all our old hand-me-down text books. Agnes Aunty was our season clock. We knew it was summer when mother would bring home nimboo paani, we knew it was the start of a new year at school when we got her son’s too big uniforms. We wouldn’t complain – they were the only ‘new’ clothes we’d get all year and we wore it with pride. Who doesn’t want to look like a Saahib?

But the best season of all was when Maalkin would start baking cake. Every year we would hear of her meticulous preparation. She’d buy the raisins and currants in bulk and lay them out in the sun to dry. She’d then put them in a giant ceramic jar and pour in a bottle of daaru (something with the name that sounds like our god, Ram) and some cinnamon. These were luxuries we were excited about even if we never got to see it.

When Agnes Aunty was done soaking the raisins for 2 days, she’d start her painstaking work of art. The way Amma described it, it was like Agnes Aunty was an artist, a sculptor who slowly, painstakingly worked on every aspect of the cake till it looked like a winter wonderland. I don’t know what a wonderland is but I have seen posters of these firangis in their Santa hats and so much snow – I assume that’s what it means. Winter snowland. We never have snow in our shanties. In fact, when Amma was telling us the story, we were sitting shirtless, wiping off the sweat from our brows every two minutes.

I looked at my plate and smiled, the season of magic was upon us. Our cold gruel now had vegetables in them. Yesterday we had biryani. Agnes Aunty is always very generous this time of year. Amma says that maalkin is only cleaning the fridge and wants to get rid of the filth but I am thankful. My ever grumbling stomach is thrilled during this season and full. It’s such a good and underrated feeling.

Every year during Christmas we also get Rs.1 a day. It usually buys you 4 chocolates in the Kaaka shop. Sometimes if we help him take out the garbage, he gives us a chocolate free. Candy, the maalkin’s son calls it. Chocolate, apparently, isn’t as sweet and fruity flavoured. I stuck to ‘chocolate’ though. Ganesh and gang would tease me terribly if I used any other term.

My worn out purse had Rs. 10 now and I drifted off into fantasies once mother started complaining about her workload. I feel for her – to take care of us, she worked in 3 houses and cooked in 2. But it was the same story we heard every day for a year and so I thought it would be okay to dream for a day. She wouldn’t even notice, I told myself.

Agnes Aunty would assemble her cake, she made so many, and she would give it to her sons to go sell it to the bakeries. It was amazing to me how much money she made from Rs. 80 daaru and raisins. Every family wanted to some for themselves and then some more to gift to their friends and family. No one I knew practiced tradition but every year we got to secretly be part of it. The bakeries would take the cakes and cut off the edges and decorate the cake anew with an old man in a red suit, sometimes a tree and sometimes something that looked like snow and silver balls.

Rich-Plum-Cake

Now, I didn’t care about what the cake looked like. No one I knew did. We cared about the edges of the cake that were cut off. Some were burnt, some were apparently too dry, as if there was such a thing. Every year I thank god for our smriti because none of us like to waste anything. Not even the rich bakery bhaiyas. In fact, they cut the edges into nice square chunks and would wrap it up in plastic and sell it to smaller bakeries closer to our homes. Rs. 10 for a big pack of melt in your mouth, sweet and rich cake edges. And just after Amma leaves for work tomorrow, I know where I would go.

“Wipe your mouth, you’re drooling like a dog again” said Amma. I didn’t even lose my temper this time.

It was, finally, Christmas.

_______________________

Based on a colleague’s personal experience