24 December 2007, 6.30pm, Princeton, New Jersey
I ask this with a laugh because every desi family I know of has a different routine for Christmas. My mom loved decorating the house when we were kids; she laments that she stopped once we got older. My childhood best friend has loved putting up a tree with presents since we were kids; she married into a family that really does Christmas and it suits her perfectly. Other friends only acknowledge Christmas as the day plan out their Boxing Day shopping schedule.
As different as our celebrations may be around this time of year, we do share a common love of holiday lights. As our days become shorter and our nights grow darker, the multicoloured strings of light seem to magically appear wrapped around our windows and porches, glowing even as the cold winter winds blow. I love it, which brings me to the photo above.
We called it the Chandelier. Strings of light threaded through the bare branches of a tree in the front yard of my uncle's place in Princeton, NJ. We're proud to call it a work of art, because people from far and wide (also known as neighbours), came by to admire and remark on the creativeness of it all. As per the definition of art, it also had its share of critics but we won't discuss those. (Also, because it makes my uncle laugh and we're still not quite sure what his original intention was when he put up these lights.)
This photo reminds me of one of the loveliest Christmas holidays I've enjoyed with my extended family. Simple moments, much laughter, aloo tikki burgers for lunch, chocolate and Broadway in Manhattan, and having this as our Christmas tree are a reminder of how decor and entertaining need not be complicated.
Joy can be found in the simplest things. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season, and a very Merry Christmas, if it's yours to celebrate.