Moving to another country is a milestone marker in life. It offers the chance to adopt a whole new culture, learn the norms of a different society and adapt to colloquial speech.
When I moved from India to the US more than a decade ago, someone wise said to me, “You’re in a new country and this means have the opportunity to create your own traditions. Make the most of it!”. What an idea! I felt free and light – the concept of coming up with my own traditions was fascinating and exciting.
This concept turned real when I had my first child.
Christmas came along and suddenly, I was faced with making it as much of a celebration at home as it was in school, perhaps even more.
Christmas was celebrated more at school and at community events, not as much at home.So, we started with a small, fake tree and adorned it with tiny ornaments. Gifts were wrapped and placed underneath. On Christmas morning, I woke up early, put on festive music and got camera-ready for my little one to come down in his Santa-themed jammies. As he grew older, the celebrations got bigger. We started the tradition of baking cookies on the 24th morning to prepare for Santa and made sure we had ‘reindeer food’ to sprinkle in our front yard – now, there was no way that the much-awaited sleigh would ever miss our house. We put out milk, cookies and a savory snack for Santa since we didn’t want him to get too sugared up and God forbid, experience a sugar crash on the most important night of the year. Soon enough, my son questioned how Santa’s wrapping paper and mine were identical. Then started my ninja attempts at hiding one patterned roll of wrapping paper from his little perceptive eyes every December.
Did I enjoy picking out a zillion gifts? Heck yeah! I love everything about gifting – right from selecting to shopping to wrapping to giving! I finally had an excuse to buy a hundred different ribbons and bows and what have you. Adding little baubles to cards just elevates the packaging (and hopefully, the receiver’s excitement!).
One year, we traveled to a Christmas tree farm and chopped down a tree!
Our first real Christmas tree! It felt great to have gone on that expedition and emerge winners. However, we didn’t know how much care went into keeping it alive, not to mention the constant cleaning the house requires from falling needles. Oh, and turns out my husband is severely allergic to pine. And that’s why, our first real tree was also our last.
‘Elf on the shelf’ was also something I brought into my kids’ lives and quickly realized was too much to keep up with for me, so that’s the only one I’ve dropped like a hot potato!
A tradition I have kept up with is watching Christmas movies – this year, we’ll be watching ‘A Christmas Story’ with home-made popcorn, sugar cookies, and snuggle-worthy blankies. Without fail, every year, we revisit ‘The Sound of Music’ – a favorite of mine since childhood.
The most recent tradition added to my list has been my annual cookie-exchange party.
This is the one I enjoy working towards the most – shopping, decorating, baking, et al. This year, we were a total of eight families and I anticipate this gathering only growing year on year.
Now, I have a comprehensive list of everything that NEEDS to happen right after Thanksgiving. We have neatly-labeled Christmas bins in the garage that make an appearance on the weekend after Thanksgiving. My husband gets to work putting up festive lights outside, while the kids and I set up our beautiful, convenient fake tree and decorate it with 7 years’ worth of hand-made and store-bought ornaments. The staircase banister gets prettied up with holly garlands; our Christmas wreath gets hung up on the front door and the front porch gets a mini red & green makeover.
Adopting traditions and celebrating Christmas in such a wholesome manner has been fulfilling to say the least. This following quote sums up my feelings:
“Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance – each beautiful, unique and gone too soon.”
It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.
The magic of the holidays is truly upon us!