Empty Boxes

Growing up in the 90’s in India, I have many fond memories of Christmas. It was about carol singing into the wee hours of the morning. It was about platefuls of steaming biriyani and brightly coloured paper stars that hung outside homes. It was about homemade plum cake heavy with fruit soaked in alcohol that probably exceeded prescribed church-friendly levels. It was about the harmonising voices and the soft flickering of candles during ‘Silent Night’ at the watch-night service.

Hardly any of my Christmas memories revolve around gifts. As I recall, my sister and I usually ended up with a grand total of one gift each at Christmas. Surprisingly enough, not even for a moment did we consider that a human rights violation! We had enough other stuff to think of – like decorating our tiny “Christmas tree” – a two-foot high shiny green tinsel avatar of the original that we decorated with cotton wool “snow”.

As part of our Christmas decorating, I remember covering empty cardboard boxes with gift wrapping paper to place under the tree. Empty cardboard boxes. From watching Hollywood movies, I knew presents under the tree were the norm. But in my mind I was sure those were merely props. Read more here

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