Merry Christmas – 25.12.2006

I had planned to go chronologically with the posts from Ye Olde Bloge but it seemed like a good time to pull out this old post – actually I was over enthu and had three posts up on X’mas in 2006. We were in Allahabad and this was Pre-Bean. Do you remember a time before the Bean? I don’t. It seems like I’ve just always been her mother. I present the X’mas season posts that week. Have a great X’mas and a Happy New Year you all. If you don’t hear from me in the next week – it’s because I’m busy travelling. Catch you on the other side.

But where is the X’mas tree?

This year since I am going to my parents’ home I decided not to put up an X’mas tree… it would gather dust while I was away and my son would pull it to pieces when I got back… So I just put up a twig with red and gold baubles and filled the vase that holds it with red and gold star and heart shaped baubles… It’s nice… but oh to have put up my very own tree!
Maybe next year when the Brat is older…. oh damn.. that is when the next one will be swinging on the branches….I think my tree is going to stay wrapped up in bubble wrap and tucked away for a few years yet…

Rocking around the X’mas tree

For those who are wondering why I haven’t blogged in a while… this is the reason why… I am at my parents’ home for X’mas and have just been too lazy to get on to the www…. I have been lying on a rug in front of the fire place, watching the flames for hours on end, sipping hot cups of tea and listening to music while my son sits on his haunches and methodically takes decorations off the X’mas tree and rearranges them… Sorry if I gave you guys a scare…

Last night I was dancing with him in my lap and in the mirror I saw another mother and child…. with almost identical features dancing to the very same X’mas carols, cheek to cheek, around the grand piano almost 25 years ago…Thanks for some beautiful memories, ma…

is what the OA and I have been most of this vacation on a rug in front of the fireplace…

For those who knew we were going away to a wildlife reserve for a few days, well that got cancelled. All that eating rich food and partying late finally got to me and I am laid up with some amoebic infection and surviving on toast and tea… Bah. Merry X’mas indeed!


Compliments of the season from the little drummer boy

…who only opened his gifts on X’mas morning..

began opening gifts at 2 am, when we returned from church after the midnight service…. shall soon show pictures of all my loot!

Father and son

…..have spent plenty of time bonding this vacation and I don’t know how my son will deal with the lack of space and lack of company once we get back to Delhi…playschool, here we come.

Sugar and spice and everything nice…

If you glow it’s a boy they say, some turn the theory around and say you glow if you are carrying a girl. If you carry to the front it’s a boy, but if you gain weight all around, it’s a girl. We even tried my wedding band on a chain and then on a strand of my hair to see what I am carrying. Old wives tales abound and women have for centuries tried every trick in the book to find out whether they are carrying a girl or boy. Friends and older family members want to know why I am so keen to know the gender of the baby.

Well, right from reasons like asking my brother to buy me cute baby stuff from abroad to picking the colour of the bassinet, there are a dozen reasons…. but the biggest reason? Well I don’t know about others, but I am eager to know just like so many women over the last few centuries… There is a life growing inside of me and I am not willing to be just a blank vessel!! I am eating healthy and taking every precaution to make sure that little life is nurtured and cared for. And I would like to know as much about it as possible. I am signed up for four different baby mails a week and I can tell you which body part is developing this week and how big baby is… and after all this surely it comes as no surprise that I am eager to know the gender.

My brother did buy stuff from abroad for baby bean…Baby bean’s first X’mas gifts..even before she has arrived…..Merry X’mas my little angel… Only God and my blogging friends know how badly I want a daughter!!!

My parents who have a vague grasp of blogging were very aprehensive about me posting this entry. What if it turns out to be a boy after all, they ask. Well, I will be disappointed for a while, but I will grow to love the little fellow anyway. And he will have to wear pink for the first few months because that is all the poor Mad Sibling could get, no gender neutral colours available. And as for those who read my blog…. I think they will understand my disapointment more than anyone else and be my greatest strength. For now, thank you all those who prayed for a little girl…Now all we need is a healthy pregnancy or what remains of it… and a healthy baby.

A very Merry X’mas was had

… a couple of days ago when Tambi aka THE Mad Sibling was in India for a quick short visit. And of course the parents and cousins came rushing to my place to spend those 1.5 days with him. But it just came and went so fast that as I told my mother – I don’t feel sated. It’s like a meal ending midway.

He was here barely two months ago and the kids are now old enough to remember him. Which is why the Bean went running into his arms with a scream of happiness. And the Brat just walked up to him, climbed into his lap with his Dino book and began to talk as though continuing a conversation.

We spent the entire time just chatting, eating Christmas cake, drinking, and playing guitar and singing carols. We also put up our Christmas tree and wait for it… distributed our gifts too! Yes, we’ve already done X’mas. At this rate we should be celebrating New Year’s today. It made great sense to do it that way since he was here with his suitcase bulging with gifts, we were here waiting with armloads of gifts for Baby Button. Besides, every family has a noisy person (moi!) and a person who keeps the family together (Tambi). And with both under the same roof, its always a good time to celebrate. So what difference does it make if its not the 25th of December, huh? Who got the memo from God saying Jesus was born on that day?

In keeping with tradition we put gifts for Baby Button under the tree (anyone remember my X’mas post when I was expecting the Bean?). A pleasant evening was spent with my dad wearing Ma’s red fleece and an orange woollen cap, distributing the gifts. The Brat and Bean were supposed to be Santa’s helpers but the Brat after opening his first gift, a book on animals (what else?!) climbed into the pappassan behind G’pa and began to read. When Santa offered him his next gift he replied distractedly, Thank you, but you can give it to Bean.

We did what I often complain about – set up the laptop and skyped my SIL far away in the US. And let her join in the chaos, putting on our new clothes and modelling for her. I took great pleasure in showing off my new black knee length boots with two inch heels – gift from the OA, thank you very much! And yes, the knee is healing so I’m strutting around in heels once in a while. I got the OA the most awesome bomber jacket that the family is making fun of as being too shiny. Me? I think they’re jealous that he’s hot and they’re not. The poor man keeps pointing at his grey hair and asking me if I don’t think he is too old for it. And oh – the horrible brother says it reminds him of the scene where Chandler and Joey get friendship bracelets and Chandler is too decent to tell Joey what he really feels about it.

The next afternoon was a big poori-subzi picnic lunch out in our complex lawns. I miss the old house where we merely walked out with our plates and sat in the balcony. Here it was a project – collect rugs, picnic basket, food, water, napkins, beer concealed in tea flasks… We lay around in the sun soaking up the warmth while the babies ran around exploring. Here’s the Bean with a ladybug she found in the grass.

Here’s the tree going up.. Nani, G’pa and the Bean.

The Bean methodically hangs everything she can lay her hands on, on the very same branch until the tree almost tips over. Then proceeds to sulk as we move things around to balance it out.

Then takes a stuffed snowman to her little reading nook under the staircase and reads to it, much to our amusement. Clearly we were no longer worth mixing with.

Grandfather and granddaughter fell asleep on the couch while the rest of us chatted.

G’pa singing to us from the balcony….

Some glimpses of the X’mas feeling..

And thank you those of you who sent me special gifts for my tree. You know who you are….

Christmas is all about spreading the joy and so the Jagannath from my tree (thank you Art!) and a little bauble that says Baby’s First Christmas, have been packed away carefully in Tambi’s suitcase. They go to share some Christmas love on his tree as they prepare to become a little family.

In other news, the Bean has been sitting in Nani’s lap and learning to knit – Baby Button, when you wear the sweater, know that your sister knitted a line of rubbish for you. Wear it in good health and with pride.

Happy Diwali 2010

Edited to add: This piece I came across on Sivakasi.

The toughest part of parenting has been for me, the tightrope I walk between my principles and what is best for my child. I’ve often had to back down on something I believe deeply in because it doesn’t suit my child. Firecrackers is one such issue.

I’ve loved Diwali all my life for the colour and the light. But over the last few years I’ve grown more sensitive. To child labour. To the environment. But I’ve ignored the little voice at the back of my head because of the kids.  Until recently when I realised that their schools have begun to campaign against firecrackers. It disturbs the peace, the stray dogs are terrified, the streets are littered, a haze of smog hangs over the city and everyone is wheezing. But it’s still so beautiful! One part of me says “Aw… let them enjoy their childhood.” Another part screams.. “what about the little kids in Sivakasi losing their childhood slaving over these?”

This year, yet again the Bean started wheezing as soon as the crackers began. I sat there holding her inhaler and mask over her mouth while the crackers went off outside. Later at night after most of it had died down we went into the lawn to watch the last few revellers light up some anaars. As we sat there cheering and screaming, a little boy got burnt. Not too badly, but enough to singe the back of his legs.  A harsh reminder of what can happen if you’re not careful.

We got up and walked back home, the Bean clinging to me like a baby monkey, wrapped within the shawl I was wearing. “Mama, it’s like being inside your stomach. I’m all warm and inside you. We are one yooman (human) being.” Yes, I smile. It is. And in those days it was simpler to take decisions on what you thought was best for a child. Today each decision I take turns around and looks me earnestly in the eye and asks – “You might think this is right. But is this what they’d want to do? Will they thank you for this choice you’re making? What about ten years from now?”

A lot of what we do is simply for the familiarity of it (a similar debate is on at Kiran’s place). I often come across people who say “Oh well I don’t believe in that but I do it just to keep my parents/ inlaws happy/ it reminds me of my childhood/ it is a deeply ingrained habit/ it’s just a sweet tradition I want to carry on. Rarely do we stop to think of the origins of a rule/ dictat. Most often we get caught up in the beauty of the picture and forget about the subtle message it might pass on to our children. Often we do it just not to upset the apple cart and slowly the habit becomes one we’re too cowardly to break. Too scared to get out of the rut. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we believe in it when actually we just do it because we’re too lazy to change things. Many a time we’re unwilling to pick up a new and beautiful custom because it’s not something we believe in or have grown up with.

Over the years I’ve given each tradition or habit some thought to see if it makes sense. One of the first few was to overcome my qualms about eating prasad. I now eat it everywhere and try not to let baggage interfere. The second one was having my father walk me down the aisle. I wanted both my parents to give me away because  I did feel I was leaving one family to set up my own unit with the OA. I got the lines changed too. But as we started our wedding march, mum and dad on either side, mum broke down crying and couldn’t move. Someone pulled her away. I walked on in a daze, absolutely livid. They say old habits die hard. But over the years I’ve seen my parents break a religious tenet and accept prasad simply because they don’t want to hurt peoples’ feelings. I respect them so much more for it because almost all older people I know, take pride in the purity of tradition and ancient customs, rarely stopping to think of whether it is still relevant or sensible. It’s just given me yet another reason to respect my parents. And also one more reason to not respect old people who think they deserve respect because of their age/caste/community and the way they hold on to old, regressive customs.

What have you changed/stopped doing, inspite of growing up with it as a tradition/custom/habit – simply because you don’t believe in it/ it goes against your principles/ you don’t want to pass it on to your children. So this Diwali I wish you light, love, happiness, health, choices, free will, safety and prosperity.

And oh, here’s a tradition I will try not to break – Diwali decor pictures.

The Brat and Bean sit guard over a white urli with white floating flowers and a white candle.

The OA experimented with putting a few red petals in but we both agreed that it looked best left pure white so that is his hand you see, pulling the last red bit out.

A gift from Boo that fits right in…

That’s the OA. Anyone who says the Brat looks like him and not me, gets their IP blocked. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The house is made differently so this year I have less outside and more inside. My bookshelves are full of lights. Yes, we’re an absolute fire hazard. I am on standby with an extinguisher hanging around my neck.  I love that pretty marble cutwork lamp. A gift from my parents.

The entry way. I plan to paint that mirror frame but we’ll talk about that some other day.

A serene Buddha keeps peace in our home. Isn’t it beautiful that you can find Buddhas in every home no matter what the community? Says something about the religion and the people.

More little candles and holders in bookshelves. Along with first edition books that are over a 100 years old. Foolish is what I am.

Cousin J framed in the doorway, puts in the finishing touches. She’s the little artist who will be making the rangoli for us. Yes, I’ll give you more pictures tomorrow when we really set about doing up the house.

The balcony barely supports tea lights but the view of the other lit up homes across Gurgaon more than makes up for it.

The garden will never be forgotten of course, so there are little lights nestled among the plants. Can you spy the little pink lily still going strong? I’m so proud of it.

The Eureka Moment or the One where the Brat hits back or Happy Raksha Bandhan

Anyone who has read this blog for more than 6 months knows that my  biggest fear as far as the Brat is concerned, is his gentle nature, the getting beaten up, allowing himself to be bullied. The class teacher at the new school had a chat with the OA and me and put our fears to rest, saying that gentle does not equal victim. And that in his own gentle way he will get a lot done.

Anyhow, a few days ago, the Bean came back from the park with a deep scratch under her eye. A child had scratched her, just about missing her eye.  I rushed to clean the wound and see if it had hurt the cornea. But she was okay. Once I had reassured myself that she was fine, I asked her what happened. She told me that she had been beaten. Did she defend herself, I asked? Because my little Jhansi ki Rani isn’t the type to take a beating quietly.

No, she smiled. My big brother hit him for me, because he was a bigger boy and I am small.

And that my dear readers, is my post for this Raksha Bandhan. Apparently the only time the Brat will hit back, is if someone messes with his baby sister. And for that, dear Lord, I am truly thankful.

Also, for those who imagined I was trying to force my brother to come home or make decisions for him – well, I guess its true what they say about a blog. It’s just a blog – how much can you tell about the person behind it?

I would never decide for my brother and he’d never do anything if it weren’t what he truly wanted to do. Isn’t that what being adult is about? On the other hand, no one said anything about whining and begging and missing, right?!

That said, I thanked God for the way things are, this morning when I woke up and felt a pang at him not being here to celebrate this day when siblings are celebrated. Everything works out for the best and perhaps us being so far away is the best for all concerned. It’s no secret that the rest of the world ceases to exist when he is around and our conversation is reduced to hmms and yeps – no words needed. I can imagine that leaves others feeling rather excluded. So I’m going to look at that as the silver lining this Rakhi, while you look at a picture of the Brat and Bean tying rakhis for each other, 2 years ago while we spent a weekend at a hillstation.

PS: Have given up all hope of winning the indiblogger contest. I’m atleast a 100 votes behind some of the others bloggers. It seems sad that I get close to 3500 hits a day (surely a large percentage are bloggers) and yet have less than 150 of them willing to back this horse!