Like many other Bengalis, I grew up in an agnostic Hindu household in Calcutta but with a belief in the greatest toy-maker of all times – Santa Claus. Thanks to my parents, Christmas for us, became an occasion to give and receive gifts, to learn to be thankful for what we have and receive, make cards, savour some plum cakes and enjoy the fabulous sunny Calcutta winter.
While the last ingredient is absent now, we try to preserve the others the best we can ! We had a Christmas tree, not very big but nicely decorated and lit, thanks to my father-in-law who likes to splurge on tree ornaments for her grandkids. And under the tree, Santa Claus kept presents for those who are living around us now and being the progressive dude that he is, chose to employ the services of Amazon and Flipkart for the ones who are not – my mother and sister.
Keeping the legend of Christmas is very important to me and it is not that it does not meet with sarcasm and resistance. But we trudge on.
Ryana is nine now. Right from when she was very young, Ryana loved carols. We had a CD of carols sung by Usha Uthup which would play on the car stereo – even in June. She is a staunch believer in Santa Claus and writes letters to him every year. I have the duty of posting it to North Pole. This year, she even made two of her friendly neighbors prepare these letters for Santa, with the inducement of gifts.
Akin to previous years, Ryana’s ask is always very humble. She wanted a “Flower Vase Making Kit” this time and she got it. Santa, who plays into her charming ways, usually gives her a bit more than she asks for – this year she got a magnetic dart board and two books to boot.
These are the two cards by her friends Harshitha and Swati.
Much of Christmas is about carols and good music which I discovered in plenty. Noteworthy among them are the Christmas At My House album by Larry Carlton, an acapella group Straight No Chasers (thanks to a friend Alwin) and some amazing pure voice by the Celtic Woman.
We bought some amazing Black Rum cakes from Sue’s, a friend of ours who runs a Caribbean restaurant and makes some of the best dishes in town. But Christmas is not complete without cards. And that last touch was brought in thanks to my manager and colleague Lars and his wife Colleen with a tasteful Susan Winget Christmas card that landed on our doorsteps right on Christmas Day from far away Vermont.