This holiday season, I've teamed up with six other authors to share our holiday memories. We hope you enjoy the stories as much as we do. Feel free to share your own memories in the comments below!
Today you get to read one of my holiday memories!
The Year Our Christmas Tree was a Chair
As Christmas memories go, mine probably hint at the same nostalgia and youthful excitement as most of yours, with maybe two important exceptions. One, my parents are immigrants from India, and we aren't Christian—although that didn't stop us from celebrating. And two, holiday dinners didn't resemble anything close to what I'd seen on A Christmas Carol or the Brady Bunch. No goose, turkey, or ham. Not even fish. Our everyday menu usually consisted of Indian vegetarian food, and as I got older, special occasions called for the only meat dish my vegetarian mom ever made: Onion Chicken Curry. My sisters and I never failed to drop everything and ruuuun to the kitchen for dinner!
(I suppose this is where I need an I digress—not really my style, but you get the picture.)
Because of TV, school, friends, and co-workers, Christmas became a hodgepodge of this is what you should do and this will be fun for the girls and don't let them feel left out. Ever the eager parents, they purchased a tree, strung lights, and bought into the idea of Santa like it would help us get into Harvard one day.
I'm almost bummed I didn't try.
Growing up in the Midwest, our Christmas' were white, Swiss Miss hot chocolate warmed us after building snow-families in our tiny backyard, and our fake tree, strung with twinkling lights, mesmerized us until our yawns got to be too big.
Oh yeah, and there were presents.
My earliest Christmas memory comes to me from the year we hadn't put up a tree. I was six. My parents had taken us to India that fall, and a trip that far wasn't made for just a few days. After five weeks, my dad returned to the States to go back to work, and we followed almost a month later. I can't remember if we came back before the holidays or shortly after, but I do remember that even without the tree up, my dad bought us Christmas gifts. He hadn't forgotten.
Without a tree, he'd placed the (unwrapped!) gifts under a boxy 1970's-style chair that I probably only remember because of old family pictures. Kneeling down, I dipped my head to gape at the most magnificent set of markers, all lined up in a clear plastic case. My box of 64 Crayola crayons with the sharpener in the back paled—paled—in comparison. Oh the worlds I would draw, and the portraits I'd create. There wasn't a bird or rainbow or castle I wouldn't be able to color into existence.
Oh the possibilities.
I hope your holiday season is as magical as mine was that year—even without the fake tree strung with twinkling lights, mesmerizing us until our yawns became too much.