Feliz Navidad – May there be Joy Everywhere!
One of them is way too obvious – printed Christmas cards! In a digital world where social media greetings have grown rife, the cards have been facing a slow death the last about a decade.
- Until last year, I was sending physical greeting cards to people close to me – my parents, for instance. That was in addition to the electronic versions – to ensure the message is not lost through any postal lapses!
Display of Cards: Growing up in Chennai, I always found it a joy to receive Christmas greeting cards – we had them in abundance to our delight!
We had it as a practice to string the cards together aloft and display them as part of the Christmas decorations year after year. Some will make it to the Christmas tree, too.
This year I did NOT send a printed card to anyone. There is no fun with that practice when there is no reciprocity.
Nearly everything about Christmas back then was home-made. All Christmas goodies were prepared by my mother – from cakes to all kinds of cookies that were Kanyakumari / Kerala specialties. They included:
- Mundhiri kothu – bunches of hard, roasted dumplings made of green gram dal, flour, jaggery, cardamom, etc.
- Achchu murukku – these are easily available in Singapore shops as Rose Cookies
- Diamond Cuts – crunchy diamond-shaped biscuits – a favourite with my aunt (mother’s elder sister)
- Mysore Pak – an Indian sweet with origins in Karnataka – the best Mysore Paks I have had are those my mother made
- …and, of course, Biriyani on Christmas day – I have not had better biriyani that the one my mom made
- We (my dad, brother and me, joined by my wife) will help her with minor tasks – beating the batter, rolling the dough for some cookies, etc.
We have always had a few cousins stay with us while they were studying in Chennai – my parents were consistently welcoming all through their lives! So those who stayed with us joined in the fun as well.
Visits to Relatives’ Homes – Invariably every year on Christmas Day, after lunch at home, we (the four of us – my parents, my brother and I) will visit the homes of our closes relatives to greet them personally and hand them goodies. This was a great tradition we loved.
Manger and Christmas Trims – The manger set we put together back then was simple, some of our relatives had it better, growing even some live plants within it.
Star and other Decorations – There were no China-made trims then, all local stuff. We used to buy some from Moore Market / Parry’s Corner. But generally we will buy colour crepe paper and come up with our own simple designs to embellish the ceiling. Even the star we had at home was made by us
Christmas Tree – We used to have pine trees that we will buy from Purasawalkam. I think these are still available there, but artificial trees have taken over!
Artificiality is perhaps in line with the times – from business to the home! Even as I may long for the past, we have to make the most of the present, hoping that the future may see some traditions return!
This is the second Christmas without my mother and the sixth without my father. Years do disappear fast but their memories will always linger.
Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas all!
G Joslin Vethakumar