Every Christmas morning since I can remember has started in the same way, I have woken up with a stocking stuffed with small presents from Father Christmas sat on the end of my bed. I wake up confused, what is that weighing down on the duvet (?), then I realise it’s Christmas!! My first Christmas day in India, I still woke up confused. Why after her five-day holiday earlier in the month has the woman who comes to do the washing up had not turned up for the second day in a row without calling? Meanwhile, my husband was woken up by Father Christmas licking his face…
My first Christmas in India began with soap and dish water before I fired up the oven and started to make my as-close-as-possible British Vegetarian Christmas dinner of nut roast, roast potatoes, mint chilli peas (because we are in India, we need some spice), garlic butter carrots, cauliflower cheese, stuffing (sent from England) and gravy! I also made a chocolate and cherry cake for after!
I don’t know why but even though we call it a Christmas dinner, but we have eat it during lunchtime. We had our foreign wife, Indian husband friends for lunch (dinner?) and after tucking in with Christmas songs playing in the background, in true British Christmas style, we played the board game monopoly! I haven’t cooked anything on this scale for months so I was pretty proud of myself and it felt so good to have a plate of somewhat British food in front of me!
In the evening we went to a Cathedral designed by an Englishman, built in the same style as the churches I would visit in England and well over one hundred years old! I wish I had taken my camera because it was so beautiful! The British built Cathedral celebrated Christmas with Indian style, covered in fairy lights with music exploding from speakers (temples are sometimes decorated with outside lights and play music during Hindu festivals). Hundreds of people from all faiths had come to celebrate Christmas (and take selfies…), so many in fact it was hard to even enter the church and once inside we had to shuffle down the aisle at a snail’s pace. Another Indian twist, everyone took their shoes off before entering the church (as one would do when visiting a temple)! The fusion of British and Indian was surreal.
Whilst walking back to the car, looking at the Cathedral from distance, I saw a scene that could have come straight from an Indian Christmas card. Below the huge and rare full moon low in the night’s sky, nestled between the dark shadows of giant trees, the Cathedral dripping with fairy lights with a warm glow coming from the tall, wooden open doors.
That night my husband and I spoke to my family via skype and I remembered how my Christmas day used to look (and sound!). I hope next Christmas we will all be together, whether in India or England. Christmas away from ‘home’ was never going to be the same, but I am so happy we chose to celebrate and I enjoyed myself thanks to being around lovely people and eating lovely (if I say so myself) food!
(If you fancy seeing some photos of the Cathedral, you can find some great ones here)