It is usually a week or if I stretch a bit too much, then a month, so what is it about two months of Christmas? I was too keen to celebrate Christmas this year, probably because I wanted to compensate for the whole year. It all began in the first weeks of November during my holidays, I started watching Christmas movies in Netflix when I made my Christmas bucket list for 2020.
My first task started with assembling dry fruits, including raisins, sultanas, dates, prunes, glazed cherries and tutti frutti from Asda, Tesco, Costcutter, the Indian Shop and even from Amazon. By the beginning of the third week of November, I did my cake mixing. Ideally, rum or brandy is suggested, but we soaked it with Red Wine and powdered spices (cinnamon, cloves,cardamom). It was indeed a prelude to the upcoming joy and spirit of Christmas.
The next in the list was winemaking. Choosing the best and the finest quality grapes from the market was the first and foremost of all steps. And following my recipe from the previous years, I gathered my ingredients one by one carefully. The whole process was followed thoroughly with utmost care to each step. The periodic ritual of stirring the wine was indeed the most exciting part of the whole process, seeing the results were worth the effort.
Every time I opened the cupboard to take out the glass jar to stir the wine, my nostrils were greeted by the aroma of fermenting grapes and the spices in it. My home was filled with the fragrance of Christmas, and my soul with the excitement of the long wait. And what was more thrilling was that it wasn’t just me, but a joint venture, as my friend Vidya Anoop too joined me from Dubai.
Within no time, we stepped into December, and it was time to decorate the home, with fairy lights, candles, Christmas tree and Christmas wreath. And the main thing is to work it all in those days off from work. It was a joint effort, with my better half, and finally, we became ready for welcoming baby Jesus into our hearts and homes. My crib was old, rusty and small, but then, that made it a replica of the scene witnessed by the shepherds, the wise men and the angels, on that eventful night in Bethlehem.
The next worry was the baking itself. Of course, the fruits were soaked and all set. But what about the cake. Yes, I have baked before, but never done a perfect cake. And this time, I couldn’t settle for anything less than the best. I didn’t forget to get advice from a very old friend of mine, Hara Cherry, who does a lot of baking these days to kill her time. I should say, talking to friends always gives the best solutions; she gave me the best piece of advise I was looking for. And we decided to practice, my friend Vidya tried an apple cake while I tried a banana cake. It didn’t disappoint us.And again, I baked a simple sponge, but this time it was a bit dry. Indeed a learning curve for me.
On the 22nd of December, precisely a month after the cake mixing day, we decided to bake our Christmas cake. Vidya and me, though a bit worried about the outcome, we were so looking forward to this moment eagerly. It was interesting and unusual at the same time, to follow the steps one by one, via a voice call(BOTim), and send pictures to each other to check if we were doing the right thing. Isn’t it contradictory that though the virus kept us away from our near ones, we stayed virtually connected from two different continents, that too doing baking? We had to keep the cake longer in the oven than expected, but the outcome was the best one for the season. So finally, We did it. The fluffy and moist Christmas fruit cake.
Meanwhile, I been through busy days at work, wrote few Christmas blogs, watched more Christmas movies, had endless conversations with family. Took Christmas pictures with my loving hubby and made personalised greetings for friends and family. Enjoyed the sight of Christmas lightings in our neighbourhood and my favourite Santa next door to me. And of course, we did the grocery shopping for Christmas meal. I was completely engaged in enjoying every bit of what the festive season has to offer, remaining within all my restrictions and constraints.
My husband and I, celebrated our Christmas on Christmas Eve, as we both were working on the 25th. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the visits from our friends due to new rules announced by the government due to rising risks from the new variant virus. I woke up early to make our breakfast as per what we planned a few days before. We cut the cake, which we desperately been waiting to do since the day it was baked, and tasted the homemade wine. Then, I cooked our Christmas dinner, based on our menu for the day. Everything went well, as it had to be. I felt overwhelmed by my little accomplishments. Might sound exaggerating, but I believe in living my moments of happiness and gratitude.
Though this year the midnight church service wasn’t there due to the result of the pandemic, the videos were all streaming online, which was never the same. The feel of having family beside, was another great thing we missed. But as we know, it all comes part and parcel of our life away from home. But the videos and photos sent by my sister in law and the narration of their celebration were just enough for me to bring warmth in my heart and the feeling of being home.
Today, as I go through my bucket list, I could see that I covered almost 99% of my tasks, and the ones I left (a few material things) weren’t necessary when outweighed with the risk associated with the shopping involved. It isn’t just about what I did or didn’t do, it is about the immense joy I (and the people around me) experienced in the whole process of celebrating Christmas in my own way. It is about the involvement; of ourselves and letting people join with us to celebrate and have fun. It is about the commitment we put in everything we do. It is about the perseverance and waiting for the best outcome we deserve to achieve . It’s about sharing our joy with the people around us. It’s about caring for ourselves and fulfilling our little dreams. It’s about the gratitude we feel, in the midst of everything we are in now, how well God has led us through. Thank you God for everything.
~ Chinchu Gibu