The Christmas tree is ready, the Christmas stars are out as is the Christmas-themed home linen, decor and crockery. After all tis’ the season to be jolly.
Megha Abraham, a Kochi-based entrepreneur, says their Christmas tree is up by December 1 at the earliest or latest by the first week of December. Their home transforms, the palette is either green, red, pink or, like this year, pastels. “The whole ambience at home changes, it becomes festive. The cookie jar comes out on the dining table, the plates and bowls bear Christmas motifs,” she says.
The Christmas tree is always at the centre of the festive decor. It is more than a tree with bling, and the ornaments on it are more than just pretty things. They are a slice of memory, pieces of nostalgia. Megha’s tree is a mix of old and new. One of the ornaments she holds dear is a gift from her sister-in-law — a ceramic hanging with the name of her first child. Then there are trinkets and ornaments collected by her husband when he was a student in the United Kingdom and on his travels.
Same with dentist Deepthi Sunil, who does not shop for a new Christmas tree every year. Everything on the Christmas tree has a sentimental value, each has a story. “Each ornament on it is special. Some have been made by my mother-in-law, who is an artist. She made them ages ago, the others are gifts by relatives and friends some of whom are no longer with us. Then there are the ornaments with initials of our childrens’ names or some made by them. There is sentiment attached to it, the kids also get excited,” she says. Usually the tree is up by December 1. Her daughter, who is in college in Delhi, has asked her to keep the tree up so that she can see it when she comes home after Christmas.
“When the kids share their memories about what the tree and decking it up meant to them when they were little is when you understand that it is worth the effort!” says Deepthi. She has her share of childhood memories pegged on putting together the Nativity scene with her siblings back home in Pala.
The ‘Christmas tree’ back then was a tree in the compound of their house. “The focus was the Nativity scene. We planted mustard seeds in the first week of December, when the seeds germinated, the plant would resemble stalks of grass. It was an important component of the crib along with another, which we called unneesho (Bermuda grass) that we collected. Infant Jesus was placed in the crib only on December 24,” she says. She remembers it being a competition between the kids in the neighbourhood with a lot of thought going into the ‘construction’ of the scene. She dresses up her house for Christmas, a tradition started by her mother-in-law. Everything spells the season.
Shiny Eapen from Mavelikkara has put up an eight-foot tall two-year-old Christmas tree, which she bought from Bengaluru and is decked up with lights and baubles and ornaments. She had been using her 25-year-old tree until two years ago, when she felt they needed a new one. “We start our Christmas celebrations a month ahead. I pick up Christmas ornaments on my travels and this year’s decor includes ceramic angels and reindeer I bought in Dubai. I bring out cushion covers and linens that have Christmassy colours and seasonal motifs,” Shiny adds. Right from the living room to the dining area and the pantry, Shiny’s home evokes the spirit of the season.
Renu Martin, founder and creative head of Kiarah home linen, has brought out her Christmas-themed crockery, a tradition she has been following for years now. “I collect crockery with Christmas motifs and bringing them out, I feel, completes the season’s spirit,” she adds. She decks up her home too, with a tree and cushion covers and linen in red, green or white with Christmas motifs.
There is the inevitable sustainability angle to putting up the same tree, and recycling ornaments. Jeemol Koruth Varghese, baker and entrepreneur, does not shop to do up her home for Christmas. She confesses she has been using the same decor items for the past few years. “The cushion covers or the other home linen is used once a year for a few days. It does not make sense to shop every year for something that you are going to use for a few days. Instead I reuse and upcycle, with a bit of lace here or bow there,” she says.
The pandemic has made her rethink her choices, and now, she is trying to thrift and be conscious with consumption. Some of the ornaments on her Christmas tree are gingerbread cookie stars and angels made of tissue paper. “Since I am a baker, I can’t resist baking. So I bake gingerbread cookies shaped like stars and angels, with a hole to string. Once done, I hang them on the tree on the day the Christmas carol singers come over so they can ‘pluck’ the cookies,” she adds. She has made a few ornaments out of cloth and jute fabric. “I like sewing, this makes me happy. If I buy a whole set of decor for the home for Christmas, it would make the children happy but it wouldn’t give me any joy and something like that would have no value,” she explains.
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