Christmas in Delhi: The Chawlas’ Celebration 2017

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Can you tell I’m excited about opening presents?!

A large Christian population in Delhi ensures Christmas is celebrated well (despite attempts of certain political groups to sabotage it). However, growing up it wasn’t a big deal for my family. When my brother and I were little, we would have a small tree decorated with cotton wool, and perhaps a gift each, purportedly from Santa. That practice stopped as soon as we were about 10 years old. Christmas became just another day to curl up in bed with a book, enjoying the holiday.

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Family breakfast on Christmas day

Christmas became a huge deal again, after my marriage into a family that takes it very seriously. I’ve been enjoying the celebrations for the last few years but with a baby, the pleasure in Christmas has grown tenfold. For our family, it’s more a cultural than a religious celebration, so we don’t attend mass. Here’s a glimpse at all the traditions we observe in the Chawla household.

Decorating the Christmas tree

This year it really felt like Christmas when we decorated our tree. We have a few Christmas trees in our backyard, which we rotate depending on their condition. The family came over to decorate with my mother-in-law’s beautiful collection of ornaments. Some of these ornaments date back to her grandmother, and are still in phenomenal condition! The nativity scene was also displayed on the mantelpiece.

Scenes from the Chawla Christmas party

My in-laws are known for their annual Christmas parties; with loads of children running around, delicious food, caroling, and ‘wassal’- a mulled rum concoction made by my father-in-law. This year was no different except that Fateh’s (my son) friends were invited along with everyone from previous years, so we had a full house! Exhausting as it was, a good time was had by all. My favourite part was singing carols to Peggy Mohan’s brilliant piano score.

Scenes from various Christmas parties we attended this year

Fateh and I were invited to many Christmas parties this year. We loved the Christmas spirit, the lovely Delhi winter weather and delicious food wherever we went. Saransh Goila (check him out here) had a special screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in his home theater, and nothing could’ve pulled at the heartstrings more!

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Cheers to Christmas eve!

Christmas Eve was family time, hosted by my sister-in-law. We played Christmas games like “Hissing and Clapping”, where everyone was divided into two groups. The first group left the room, and each person was assigned a person from the other group. As they entered one-by-one they bowed to a person; if they bowed to the person who had picked them, we clapped and allowed them into our circle; if they bowed to the wrong person, they were booed out of the room. This was followed by dinner and opening a present each.

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Christmas day

Christmas breakfast was at home, with the entire family ensuring a noisy yet festive environment. The morning began with bursting Christmas crackers. These were presents wrapped in a special way; people stood in a circle, holding one side each of these crackers and pulled. Whoever pulled harder got the present in the cracker. Breakfast and present opening was chaotic but so much fun! We followed the rule that the youngest member of the family opened a present, followed by the next in age, till we got to the oldest; and many rounds of this were repeated. This process took quite a while but ensured everyone enjoyed each present and the anticipation of opening it.

Christmas this year took me back to my childhood and I can’t wait for next year.

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Festival rating: 5/5

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