Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Minnesota Christmas...India style

Our Family in Bangalore...

Owen perfects his "wink" (and cookie overloading) at Breakfast With Santa...

Sweet Grayce sitting pretty at Breakfast With Santa...

"Does Santa know where India is ?? Only the "Santa Tracker" website was official enough to lend validity to our assertions. Reassurances abound..."Yes kids, while we all occasionally feel like we have landed on a different planet, India is, in fact, of this world and Santa does know...

"Mom! Look at that candle! It's flickering! Oh, NO! Santa is almost here and we're not asleep! He probably won't come!" Tears, frantic pacing, worried faces.

Ah, the joys of childhood: not only to ponder your recent history of bad behavior, pouting, crying or smacking your sibling around and the possible deleterious effects on Santa's gift load. But also to fear the dreaded "piece of coal" or worse yet...the Rudolph fly-by!

This year's Christmas commentary is joined by: "Mom, did you know that some people don't believe in Santa Claus? But I do, because I know you'd never buy me all those presents!" (see, all those "no, no, NO, I won't buy you the 'Too-Sexy, Overly-Made-Up, Tramp Barbie Doll' even if all the girls in the neighborhood have one...would you jump off a bridge if all the girls did, too???!!" conversations are good for more than just their moral development!)

Actually, the kids should be somewhat grateful that Christmas happened! December suddenly popped up and it was with no shortage of shock that I realized that we had less than a month to make merry... For a Minnesotan, the absence of Fall followed by the arrival of winter, snow, sleet, salted roads, midnight plowing and the annual (for Bob, of course,) "damn it why didn't I put these %$#^& lights on the house in October when I could still feel my fingers," left us woefully underprepared. Add in the utter lack of "Christmas in October..." advertising or decorating and...well, let's just say, it could have been ugly.

In many ways, it was nice to celebrate Christmas at Christmas TIME. Though, we had to modify some of our traditions...

  • Instead of an 8-foot Balsam decorated with our collected ornaments: An 8 foot "tree" made of green poster board and pasted to the wall (which I am certain will probably collapse when we attempt to pull the duct tape off). We also followed a friend's lead and bought a tiny potted Cedar to string a few lights on.

  • Instead of stockings hung by the chimney: Dad's socks (cuz they're the biggest!) hung from the curtain rod.

  • Instead of multiple strings of outdoor lights and window boxes lined with tree tops: A few outdoor lights above our front porch and some fabulous, gaudy, colorful paper stars.

  • Instead of 6 varieties of cookies and several days of baking: Toaster oven or bust! We missed some of our favorites but the fresh ginger gingerbread we did make was divine ;-) (even if it did take all day using my 9x9 cake pan) We also got to join some friends for some fun cookie decorating. But, I'm seriously considering writing a "Toaster Oven Cookbook"...

Owen, Grayce and good friend Maaike decorate cookies...

  • Instead of fudge: kind of was supposed to BE fudge...but, VOILA, truffles. (Missing ingredients get you every time!!)

  • Instead of high expectations and shopping months before hand and/or avoiding shopping in overcrowded, overdecorated and frenetic malls: NO expectations (have I mentioned the relative crappiness of most toys available here?? and the traffic, have I mentioned that?? Once or twice?) and several wonderful unexpected surprise "finds" discovered while out shopping in two trips (plus lunch!)

  • Instead of coats and mittens, hats and boots: Sandals and Kurtas and Palm trees. And mosquitoes. Have you ever applied mosquito repellent in December?

  • Instead of cooking a traditional family Christmas Dinner: Firing up the grill for our last-minute Christmas party. Attending an Eggnog Extravaganza. Finding imported ricotta for Christmas Eve Manicotti ala Barbara Fischer (my wonderful mother-in-law). And a Chrismas Day lunch open house with REAL ham (if you don't get how meaningful that is...well, it's because you're not living here!) And a Potluck, Deep-Fried Turkey Dinner with our Target friends on Christmas Day...

  • Instead of unpacking the "Decoration Box": Driving into the city with our Hindu driver, Raju and our Christian maid, Vimala, to buy a nativity set at the bazaar outside the Cathedral of St. Mary...which coincidentally is in a Muslim community. Beautiful.

  • Instead of mucking our way through overwhelming consumerism to remember the spirit of Christmas: A slower pace and a greater focus on showing charity to others.

Some things never change. Santa Letters barely made it out in time, Grayce and Owen still woke us at 6 am on Christmas morning and we ate waaaayyyy too many Christmas treats.

We deeply missed all our family and friends but at the same time, spending Christmas here, showed us that we ARE making a home here. And friends. And a patched together family of that comes and goes...but is never forgotten.

Merry Christmas... We hope your holidays were filled with blessings of every kind!

The Fischers in Bangalore, India

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