Shopping for Our First Christmas Tree

This will be my first Christmas in India and the first Christmas away from my family! I will be honest, I have been absolutely dreading it. Christmas is such a special, magical time in England and in this region of India, it’s just another day. It would be so easy for me to grumble about it, but I have decided to get excited and bring the Christmas spirit to us! This will be my husband’s first Christmas, he has shown me so many beautiful festivals, it’s my turn to show him one! 

As the Diwali lights were being pulled down in India, the Christmas lights were going up in England. We may not have the Christmas carol choirs singing on the streets, Christmas themed everything in the supermarkets or a forecast of snow… but we do have a Christmas tree!

In England we have a pretty convincing artificial tree which we store in the shed until Christmas comes around again. We have brought a real tree in the house on several occasions, that Christmas tree smell is too gorgeous to resist. One Christmas we bought one so huge, we had to cut the top of it off so it could fit in the house. We wouldn’t have that problem this year though, most of the Christmas trees were still babies.

baby Christmas trees

Christmas tree babies

We had such a lovely surprise when we went to find our first Christmas tree, a small section of the nursery was full of poinsettias! Last Christmas, during our family visit to Church for the Christmas carol service, the rector told us the story of these beautiful red plants and their significance during Christmas.

poisettias

DSCN4907

To get us in the Christmas spirit, I will have to retell you my retelling of the story of poinsettia:

Maria was too poor to give a gift to the Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, this distressed her so much she wept for days. A beautiful angel wearing golden robes came down from heaven to comfort the weeping child,”The most precious gift you can give is your love”. Maria smiled through her tears and lovingly gathered the small weeds around her, she tied them together as neatly as she could and ran to the Church. The child placed the weeds on the altar and squeezed her eyes tightly together in prayer, when she opened them, to her amazement she saw her weeds had spouted crimson leaves in the shape of the star of Bethlehem. The star of Bethlehem is the Christmas star, the star which appeared when Jesus Christ was born. A gift given with love is the most beautiful of all. 

Ahh, isn’t it a lovely story!! If you’re in India, you could visit your local nursery and see the poinsettia for yourself!

Holy star

DSCN4912

After much deliberation, we chose the petite but perfect Christmas tree. My husband and I are excited to decorate it in a couple of days. It’s so lovely to have that Christmas tree smell in the house!

***

Check out my Instagram and Facebook pages for daily updates and discussions!

India’s Heat wave

Britain starts screaming ‘heat wave’ as soon as the temperature rises over twenty-five degrees celsius. If the sun decides to grace Britain with its presence, hysteria ensues, it really is a wonderful feeling. People try to get as much sun as possible, spending their days  lying in their gardens or on the nearest seaside, hoping to get a beautiful golden tan. Picnics, camping, ice cream vans, music festivals and paddling pools. Summer in England is an exciting time, which is understandable as the weather during the rest of the year is pretty persistently miserable.

Summer in India, however, is dangerous and brutal.  I can see only two advantages of an Indian summer; the mangoes are delicious and the mosquitoes are dead. A strong sun gives summer’s seasonal fruit its exquisite taste, and I can confirm the mangoes and lychees this summer have been superb.  The break from mosquito bites and the best fruit of the year fades into insignificance when you read that over one thousand people have lost their lives as a result of this heat wave. Devastating and understandable, I cannot put into words how hot it is here in India.

Nagpur is famous for its harsh summers. When I am not in Nagpur and I tell someone where I live, either they have never heard of the place or the first thing that comes to their minds is how awful Nagpurian summers are, followed by advice and extreme caution! Thankfully, Mr. Breeze the water cooler has worked well in Nagpur’s dry heat. Nevertheless, most days I get through about sixty ice cubes and have several showers (with boiling hot water because the pipes are blistering hot, but even then it’s better than nothing). It’s been a nightmare and it’s been distressing but I am lucky, I have a home and a cooler.

When I look out of my window I can see a small nomadic community, they keep goats and they have made simple tents out of sticks and plastic sheets. They have no plumbing, no electricity and the temperature has hit forty-eight degrees celsius this month. I assume they have some methods to keep cool but we simply cannot imagine how this heat wave has been for them.

A couple of days ago, there was a blissful pre-monsoon shower. A five minute downpour of cool and refreshing rain, a small taster of what is to come in the next couple of weeks. I ran outside to my terrace and danced in the rain, singing “I am Woman” at the top of my lungs as Alfonso stood at the doorway looking very confused. Why that song? I don’t know, but it seemed appropriate for that moment of liberation from the heat. I felt so much happiness singing (some may say I was shrieking, I cannot sing very well) and dancing. That happiness overflowed when I looked across to the nomadic community and saw the children were also dancing in the rain, the only way children can, with pure joy. 

***

Check out my Instagram and Facebook pages for daily updates and discussions!