12 Days of Christmas Prompt: Memories

153As I type this there are another 3 days to Christmas. Sindy from bluebutterfliesandme came up with the idea of celebrating the season of Christmas by collaborating with some bloggers posting each day with whatever theme we wanted to.

You know, I’ve participated in a few of these collaborations and this is the first time that it’s been a challenge for me. I’ve read the posts by the others who are participating (list with links are at the end of this post) and enjoyed each of their stories. Yet, I didn’t know what to write about – do I write about what this season is about – love, magic, hope and joy? Do I write about how we choose to perceive this season? What about how Christmas, the Winter Solstices and all the other

Image source consciousness_elevated Photobucket album. Click image to link

winter celebrations seem to point to Universal messages? Or some of the things I’ve read which have made me sad, a little angry and at the same time question why I felt that way – posts or pictures which portray Jesus as something that’s “bad” in the name of being “funny” and “snarky”or the YouTube video I came across where God is lambasted…and not in a humorous way…in fact you can feel humour…you know when it is meant to be funny..I’ve seen and read jokes about Jesus and God where I’ve laughed…but these others…it seemed different some how, angry…

The thing is these topics except for the last have been covered already and so well too, that I didn’t feel there was a need to do so. The last one…no, this wasn’t the time for it. Maybe at another time, maybe I need to sit with it a little more, let it simmer, stew and mellow at the back of my mind some where before I could approach it in a better way.

Then I thought back to when I was young and how we celebrated Christmas…and that seemed like an idea!

I remember when my sister and I were really young. Christmas was one of the two festivals my family celebrated, the other being Diwali. We were happy kids – we got presents TWO times a year! I mean, for a kid that’s totally awesome.

Funny story: My dad and mom who probably never really grew up with the idea of Santa Claus used to take my sister and I Christmas shopping for new clothes and toys. They would then  wrap up all the toys and on Christmas Eve night they’d give us one “present” each to open and then the next morning we’d wake up to what my parents proudly proclaimed to be “presents from Santa” and you know what?

My sister and I would believe it *was* from Santa Claus! I have *no idea* if we were really that daft as kids or just that gullible or forgetful  but we’d actually get so excited because Santa…brought gifts!!….which we had chosen at the shopping centre a few days ago….

Yes, my sister and I had a good laugh a few weeks ago…laughed till we cried….because you gotta admit, that’s funny.

In Malaysia, people in years gone by used to celebrate their respective festivals by having open houses. Basically it meant cooking a lot of food, “opening house” for friends, family and neighbours for the whole day, entertaining them and just 24 hours hours of merriment. Never mind the work needed to clean up afterwards! You can imagine how many times these sorts of open houses occurred in Malaysia : Starting with Eid or Hari Raya Puasa usually in July or August, it went on to Diwali around October or November, then Christmas in December, New Year’s in January, Chinese New Year in January or February, a nice break for the first half of the year and then it was back again with the various festivities. Now, this does not include the smaller scale festivals which are usually celebrated in a smaller way.

When my parents were younger they held these open houses TWO times a year – Diwali as my mom and grandmother were Hindus and Christmas because my dad’s a Catholic. I remember Christmas Eve night, after coming home from midnight mass, my mom and grandmother would wake up by 3 in the morning to start with the cooking – mutton curry, chicken curry, tomato rice, mixed vegetables and lots of other deliciousness- all to ensure that the constant stream of guests will be well fed before they went off to the next house on their list…to be well fed again!

When we were a little older, my sister and I would start the day at about 8 in the morning. While my mother and the part time maid were finishing with the cooking- my grandmother not being with us anymore, our job was to clean the house, get the plates and cutlery ready, the glasses and all that placed. By 10.30 am the first family would be at the gates with empty stomachs and bearing gifts. Let the entertaining begin! It didn’t stop till 11 in the night, when the last guest walks out. By 6 pm my sister and I would have changed into comfortable clothes and taken on the parts of dish washer and servers..restaurant style.

It was tiring…I have no idea how my mother did it…TWICE in a year and then only at Christmas. I will tell you though,  thinking back to those days teaches me that in all that preparation and madness of entertaining dozens of guests for the whole day it brings a sense of joy. The joy of literally opening your home to friends, family and neighbours. It didn’t matter what race or religion the other person was. Seeing them enjoy the food you’ve worked so hard to prepare, the atmosphere of merriness and for some reason a closeness that permeates the place. The thing was it didn’t matter which festival it was…whether it was Christmas at my house or Diwali and Chinese New Years in family friend’s houses…it was always there. That same feeling of joy  of sharing.

It’s something that I’m glad to have experienced.

Christmas tree with gifts for friends and family / 2009

When we were much older, cooking food was taken over by catering food. From the whole day open house we trimmed it down to just having a dinner party by invitation. We bought gifts for everyone that we invited and packed the bottom of the tree with glee. It was fun to give and as the last of the “older” folk left, a small group of our friends together with my mom and dad sat near the tree, my sister or myself handing out gifts to everyone there and then we’d all open them together.

Now, Christmas is a much quieter affair. Just one or two friends over for dinner.

I enjoy these sorts of Christmases too. For me it does two things – it reminds me that Christmas signifies an important time of the year and at the same time it is just like any other day…and the reason that’s important to me is because Christmas to me is beginning to signify a day chosen to represent the birth of a child who would remind humanity of their divinity, who would in his lifetime here on earth rip the veil between God and man, uniting both in our consciousness. Through His life, the man Jesus brought what we now call the Christ consciousness into light, taking it from the darkness where humanity hid it, and this is something that I want to remember not only on Christmas day…but any other day.

************

Links to the list of bloggers participating. Kindly click the links below to read what they had to share!

December 14~Sindy

December~15~Holley

December~16~Shamanictracking

December~17~Penny

December~18~Karen

December~19~ Sue

December~20~Leigh

December~21~Barbara

December~22~Shree

December~23~Jen

December~24~Julianne Victoria

December~25~Sindy

25 thoughts on “12 Days of Christmas Prompt: Memories

  1. Delightful and personal story Shree. All those holidays sound great to me! I have been to a Chinese New Year parade in LA, so much fun! Thank you so much for sharing. We didn’t have a lot materially growing up, but we had love and the warm glow from the tree, and my Mom baking something sweet. I love the holiday decorations and the lights…the lights, like stars are my favorite part.

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    1. Sometimes I feel those are the best of memories…not the stuff ..but the feeling that you mention.

      I like the holiday decorations too..and the malls here are so wonderfully decorated..

      Talking about decorations, we have these Christmas tree decorations that are still hung up from the time my sister and I were kids! the eyes have pooped out and the colour changed a little with age…but they proudly twirl in the tree where they are hung!

      Chinese New Year is usually pretty noisy…LOTS of fireworks and firecracker !!

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  2. That was really interesting to hear about how your family celebrated Christmas and the other festivals, and how things have changed for you over the years. And I really like the part about picking out your own gifts, then believing they were from Santa a few days later! That was funny.

    It seems as if many cultures’ celebrations feature copious amounts of food. I suppose it puts people in a good mood and they tend to forget, if just for a brief while, their problems.

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    1. Hehehe…yea…my sister (as she was crying with laughter) managed to spit out “Om my God…were we that stupid”..and then got taken over by another fit of giggling laughter..lol.

      Yup, I think food bind because it gives us sustenance and just makes us all feel good…;)

      I know Thanksgiving is notorious with the food…but always thought Christmas in the West was mainly a family affair…

      Do you celebrate with lots of food too?

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  3. That’s such a great story about your “Santa” gifts! And I love the idea of having an open-house to celebrate. Feeding people until they groan has always been one of favourite hobbies, and many of my best childhood memories are of a houseful of people and food. This post made me happy – thank you. And Merry Christmas! 🙂

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    1. Whoo! Glad this post made you happy! Merry Christmas to you too Diane! 🙂

      It’s always fun to be the one who is doing the feeding…but oh..it’s not a nice feeling to have been fed till we groan..I’ve been there and it’s oooo so bad..so bad..my tummy felt like it was stretched to it’s maximum..and we STILL had other houses to go to..AND they would INSIST we just have a little something…and then pile the plates on…sigh…LOL

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  4. Loved your personal Christmas memories Shree, Laughed too as you recalled the presents Santa brought.. I was such a disappointed girl when I lost some of that Christmas Magic of who delivered the presents… I remember it well it was the year my Dad got me/him a guitar for Christmas, I laugh as I think secretly Dad had always wanted a guitar, and he got me a Spanish guitar which I learnt to play by myself not very well! 🙂 when I could pry it off my Dad.. 😀 haha…. I remember spying this boxed guitar wedged behind their wardrobe 🙂 and never let on I knew, as I shouldn’t have been prying! LOL hahaha….. Oh boy now you have triggered a few memories hahaha!…. Love it when that happens .. Shows your post is infectious haha… ( Hope Its not a RADDOR one 🙂 haha!

    I bet it was lovely receiving guests to feed all day in and out…. But such a lot of preparation from your Mum’s point of view.. But having family over and friends opens us up to warmth in our hearts as we share and laugh together..

    I had my Son and Daughter over with their family and partners on Friday Afternoon/evening.. I couldn’t sleep the night before as I was so excited to having them home at the same time under one roof together again.. I was awake at 3am, couldnt sleep, so got up to bake, and prepare all the foods for the evening.. I was really pleased I did as my Son and Granddaughter came over early and so I was able to interact and play in the afternoon with her which was great fun.. She helped me carry things to put on the table later..
    I hope I am creating Memories within her of her first remembered Christmas’s with Grandma! LoL…
    Christmas is a time for sharing, caring, and being with loved ones…

    Shree, thank you so much for sharing your memories with us,, these are indeed the most precious Gifts we carry.. And we hold them so very close to our hearts all our lives, and even though at times we forget.. Like you today with this post, I have tears in my eyes, as I recall many past Christmas’s both good and bad, but mostly good… And I thank you for the Gift you have shared with me today..

    Love Sue xox

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    1. Aww Sue..loved your comment!
      Thank you for sharing your memories with us too!
      It always amazes me when parents buy gifts for their children thinking of something they (the parent) would like..teehee..it’s funny!
      Seems like you had a wonderful Christmas with your family and I’m sure your granddaughter had a wonderful time! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Andra. It was “natural” because my mom was a Hindu and my dad from a Catholic family . Also living in a multi racial and religious country…it was something that we all grew up it. It’s only recently that so much division is occurring because of politics…but before…it was completely normal to have a group of friends from all the different races and religions.

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