Sunday, December 12, 2010

'Tis the Season

My Christmas concert has come and gone and while the experience was one that I will always remember, I am in the holiday spirit more than ever!

My Christmas concert night began with 3 teachers dressing me in my light pink sari. At first I had a hard time feeling the holiday spirit as I was wrapped up in our pastel color uniform. I decided to put on some American Christmas music to get in the spirit. I sang along (warming up my vocal chords) as the teachers made me feel like a celebrity, pampering me and making sure each fold in the sari was just right. As I rang out the door, my auto (taxi) was waiting at the steps of the school to carry me off to my performance. If I didn’t feel like a movie star enough already, when I arrived at the enormous hall, the red carpet had been laid and was waiting for the choir’s grand entrance. The concert was a blast…and I’m not exaggerating. I was very skeptical of joining this choir in September but this night made it all worth it! Some of the songs we sang in Malayalam I ended up mouthing but at the end of the performance I was told that it just looked like I had more passion singing the English the songs. (I took that as a compliment.) The icing on the cake was my picture in the paper the next day… a souvenir worth hanging on the fridge when I return in July! As I came home that night, I was rejuvenated and excited for the season.

I must admit I was a little apprehensive about Christmas in India. Spending 4 years in college where the holiday spirit was buried under mounds of school work and the days closest to Christmas were full of cramming for finals, I was afraid I would spend another year missing the spirit of this season while in India. However, it has been quite the opposite. It seems that each day since the month of December has begun, I have done something related to Christmas. The day after my Christmas concert, I attended Jim’s Christmas concert I have taught Christmas carols in class (weird feeling to be sweating while teaching these though,) attended various types of Christmas related programs and helped the girls at Nicholson with the pronunciation of words as they prepare for their Christmas program.

My favorite activity has been making and decorating our newspaper Christmas tree. My friend, Katie sent foam ornaments for the girls to decorate. As we were decorating them today, one of the girls asked where the tree was…I didn’t have one was my initial response. But after putting on my resourceful thinking cap, I grabbed the morning paper and some paint so we could make a Christmas tree. We didn’t have a paint-brush but used our hands and clumps of newspaper to spread the paint was a great collaborative effort! Each girl took a turn to “hang” their ornament on the tree as we sang O Come All Ye Faithful….it truly felt like Christmas! The girls have another week of school before their Christmas break begins and you can definitely feel the excitement in the air!

Top 10 Reasons to Wear A Sari

After 3.5 months of wearing a churidar, I mustered up the courage to try a sari. It was a great decision for many reasons!

Here’s my top 10:
10) Felt like a professional teacher
9) Now can appreciate the slow pace Indian women walk
8) Feel prepared to go to the bathroom in a wedding dress
7) Forced me to sit like a lady ALL day
6) Great bonding session with the teacher who dressed me
5) Couldn’t overeat at lunch
4) Felt more confident in the classroom
3) Appreciate how quickly Indian women can walk up steps
2) 400 girls told me how beautiful I looked on a day that the side effects of the prednisone had me feeling otherwise.
1)Loved the pampering of having someone else dress you

A Feast to Remember

The holidays are a hard time to spend away from family no matter the distance. I knew this Thanksgiving would be different as it was the first Thanksgiving that I would not be with my blood family. However, I was able to spend the day celebrating with my Indian family and it will be a Thanksgiving I always remember.

Achen and Kochamma out did themselves as went out of their way to make sure we had an American Thanksgiving. We feasted on chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots, stuffing and a PUMPKIN pie with ice cream! It was delicious. I think I ate more chicken at this meal than I have ever eaten in my 22 years of living. The five of us devoured the whole chicken, and were still able to ask for seconds on ice cream! (Indian ice cream is delicious- I would compare it to Dairy Queen, but twice as smooth and creamy!!)

Many laughs were shared at the table as we enjoyed each other’s company and cumbersomely attempted to eat our meals Western style…with silverware. After eating with our hands for 3 months, it seemed bizarre to use a fork. It didn’t take long for Madison and I to discover the fun of eating mashed potatoes with our hands. We ditched the fork and resumed the customary eating with our hands, a memory I will always remember.

This Thanksgiving, I had much to be thankful for. I found that being removed from all the normal holiday commotion in the U.S., it was much easier to take time to reflect on all the blessings in my life. However, in addition to Thanksgiving being a time to remember our blessings, I now also see it as a celebration! Achen gave a thoughtful Thanksgiving devotion before we shared our meal together that shed new light on the holiday for me. In the coming years, I will not only remember the year I feasted with my hands while eating more chicken than I have ever eaten in my 22 years of life, I will also remember to take time and celebrate!!
(It's actually boiled water in the Smirnoff bottle, there was no vodka included in our much as we may have enjoyed a stiff drink!! :)