A Christmas to remember

TechNews Writer
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Mon Jan 23, 2023

All I knew about Christmas was courtesy of hours of reading Dr. Seuss, watching Hallmark movies, the "Home Alone" movie series, and my Catholic school-educated mother. Each gave me a vibrant description of the west’s most celebrated holiday. Dr. Seuss’ world telling me about communities coming together to celebrate, big Christmas trees, sparkling lights and decorations, Hollywood showing me snow-covered towns, big fancy dinners, children and adults decorating and baking, and my mother fondly remembering the carols they taught her in school and taking us with her every year to the church to light a candle as they taught her to at her school.

So, when I moved to the US, I waited all year round for December so I could finally experience the magic of Christmas first hand. Little did I know I don’t have to wait until December for Christmas in America! Not wanting to miss out on the sales on candy I rushed to my nearest grocery store the day after Halloween, only to find the entire store covered in red and white décor! One of the store employees was walking around putting up ornaments and candy cane decorations while another was lugging a gigantic tree through the front door and it was just the 1st of November! After getting past the initial surprise, I enjoyed walking through the streets every evening, observing every new string of lights and every new installation added to the city. It was hard not to feel like the main character of the Hallmark movies I used to binge-watch — that was until the cold set in. Gone were the days when I’d go on evening strolls, the freezing wind made it very hard to step out of my cozy house and the sun setting at 4 p.m. made it impossible for me to stay awake past 8 p.m. But I was still determined to have a Christmas that was right out of the books! And I did.

A week away from Christmas I visited my family in New York, the city of dreams. I was determined to not let the sun or the weather deter my need to enjoy all that the city had to offer during the holidays. Wrapped in heavy jackets and scarves I set out determined to enjoy the festivities. The streets of New York were packed. There was no breathing space, especially for a person like me whose height is not above the average 5'2" getting fresh air was a struggle. People pushing, stores overcrowded suffocating, everybody was constantly in a hurry to get somewhere, and the white Christmas I’d imagined was nowhere to be seen. All that I saw was melting snow that turned brown and black, feeling like slush, and often kicked into my boots leaving my socks feeling wet. Well, this did turn out to be Christmas from the books after all because I sure was feeling like the Grinch (who stole Christmas) by the end of the day.

Tired of the city I decided to spend the remaining days leading to Christmas and Christmas day at home with family, nothing too significant happening. It was finally time for me to leave New York, another reason for me to complain about the holidays, the long lines in the airports. While I was waiting, I decided to filter through my pictures from the holidays, the first video was of me arriving in New York and finding my cousin I hadn’t met in over five years waiting for me, my aunt had secretly taken a video for us. The next was a picture of my aunt and me decorating the Christmas tree until 2 a.m. in morning, the next couple of pictures were of different Indian dishes my family had cooked over the holidays because I had mentioned that I missed home food. I had videos of us ice-skating in front of the Rockefeller Center, and me walking underneath the lights in Times square, going shopping, and spending hours trying on clothes we never bought; my sister and I spent hours making up stories about every exhibit we saw at the MET, baking cakes together, watching light shows, listening to the carolers who went around my aunt’s neighborhood, and my family regaling my cousins and me with stories from our childhood every night after dinner.  

Sitting there in that crowded airport I finally noticed the people around me, everyone to some extent looked content, some tired some teary-eyed but all mostly content. Realizing that is what made me understand Christmas is more than just the lights and the splendor and the fun, it’s about being with people you love and being content.

As for me, I finally got to experience the Christmas from my books and movies, I got to be the Hallmark movie heroine who had her epiphany, the Grinch who gave Christmas back to the town folks, and the kid from "Home Alone" whose family came back for him.

 

 

Appears in
2023 - Spring - Issue 1
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