I have always loved Christmas. It is without any doubt my favorite holiday!
Throughout the years I have made sure that my whole family grew to love it as much as I did.
I am passionate about decorating the house and feeling that magical atmosphere in the air during Christmas time. I get emotional every year when I see a Christmas movie (so does Mass!). Finally I love getting the right gift for the people I love and see their reaction!
In Arizona we didn’t have snow, but when our home was set up for Christmas, it felt magical anyway for us.
What I don’t like about Christmas
I have to be honest and admit that there are also somethings I don’t like about this holiday. It is becoming more and more commercial. Kids are bombarded with a million things that they “should ask Santa”. We feel the pressure to buy as much as possible, otherwise we fear they might not believe anymore or won’t be happy! But doesn’t Santa usually bring only one gift? Otherwise how will he fit them all on his sled???
I don’t like the fact that you walk in a store in October and you find Christmas decorations on sale. Apparently Christmas starts in November now. Some people don’t even wait for Thanksgiving to be over!
Don’t get me wrong, I have been victim of these mechanisms too every year. I would buy my kids more than one gift. Our lights were up on Thanksgiving day. I would start stocking up on everything way in advance, since it was “on sale”!
I told myself that this was ok. This was the true Christmas spirit!
What my concerns were when we left for our travels
My worry last year was how could I keep the Christmas spirit alive for my kids while traveling. After all We were not going to be in our beautiful home, with all our Christmas decoration collected through the years. How could I make sure my kids got everything they wanted but it had to also be small, light, easy to carry and possibly have some sort of use for our trip?
I had hoped to be in a more Christmas oriented country too for the holidays. I thought that would make us not miss as much our traditional Christmas. Unfortunately the way we had planned things, mainly due to costs, made India our best option.
However once we started traveling I honestly stopped worrying and panning anything long-term. We started living by the day and our only plans ahead were for the flights and where to sleep!
It is actually much less stressful not to be constantly bombarded by Christmas ads and not finding Christmas decor everywhere 3 months in advance. We got a chance to enjoy every month the way it should have been and every holiday at the right time. The online ads don’t really affect any of us that much, so this preparation to this holiday season was much more relaxed!
What was the plan for Christmas?
One day it dawned on me (about 10 days into December) that it was time to figure out how to make this Christmas as special or even more than the ones before!
Considering that we have traveled for weeks. Constantly changing hotels, some were good but some not so much. We found a great deal with Booking.com for an apartment at Marriott Executive Apartments. Finally we would have 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room all to ourselves!
Since our arrival was going to be around 5pm, I also booked Christmas Eve dinner. I was not going to have enough time and ingredients to cook for my family, but at least we would eat what we love most: Italian food!
Decorations and presents
Through the months we have collected key chains from every country we have visited. The idea was to find a tree and use them as our Christmas tree decorations! I asked the hotel we booked for a small tree and they recommended to order everything on Amazon! Can you believe it, I never thought about that?! I think a part of me left behind her amazon addiction when she left the United States!
I now consider Amazon my Santa! We were struggling in trying to find the one thing our kids asked for Christmas, yes they only wanted one thing each (secretly very proud of them)!
Emma wanted a book on what animals eat. She has seen so many animals during these months that she has so many questions about them but her major concern is what they eat. We had to make it happen!
Cosimo, on the other hand wanted a tool to cut rocks. After visiting The Rock Fella in New Zealand and learning a bit more about rocks, all he wants to do is learn more and sliced them! We had explained to not expect such a tool because it might not be the best thing to carry around while traveling. However we were sure Santa was going to find his way to make him happy…..
Amazon India saved the day!
A new “family connecting tradition”
Twelve days before Christmas we asked our driver to take us to an international mall so we could do some Christmas shopping. He kept on taking us to other places where we could buy only Indian stuff (he would get a commission). This happened before I decided to use Amazon and I thought this would be my best option. Out of frustration I made the driver stop at a local market area where I bought colored paper, scissors, tape and colored markers.
That same night we started our new “family connecting tradition”. Everyday in the 12 days before Christmas we have to write on a slip of colored paper: something we are proud about that we did this year, or something we want to improve next year or something we want to do next year.
Christmas Eve in Mumbai
On the night before Christmas we arrived to Mumbai. We set up our tiny fake tree with lights and key chains from around the world.
We created a paper chain for each of us with our writings. Luca created his own too, drawing different things everyday. We used these chains as decor around our tree.
I had also ordered some fake candles. I wanted to put them around the apartment to make it feel more like home! It was hilarious to watch Luca trying to blow them out but with no success!
I was up late wrapping gifts, like every year, while enjoying our decorated and lit apartment.
Christmas Morning in Mumbai
On Christmas morning Cosimo and Emma were so excited that they secretly got up and found their gifts under the tree. They thought Santa was never going to find them here in India! They took my phone while I was sleeping and made this little video for our social media page, they were so excited, they just had to share!
After patiently waiting for Luca to wake up, we unwrapped the gifts, loved their excitement for what they received.
We then started reading our chains. Each one picked someone else’s to make it more fun to read. One of our common threads? We were proud of each other for what we are doing. Both our kids wrote that they love it and want to keep on going. We also have a list of new places to visit! It was a lovely moment of sharing, learning more about how we felt. There were also lots of jokes and laughs for our handwritings at times unreadable! We connected at a deeper level with our kids and we did it in a fun way with no pressure. I still cannot believe that we actually pulled it off!
The cherry on the icing? When later in the day Cosimo told me that this was his favorite Christmas ever!
Christmas spirit is already part of us
I always feel a bit of melancholy when we get to Christmas morning, because the anticipation has come to an end and the moment is there and gone.
This year I didn’t feel that way. The anticipation didn’t build for months. Until the last minute I wasn’t even sure if the whole thing was going to work out!
Our time together wasn’t taken over by anything else. The kids loved their gifts, because it was what they truly wanted. It wasn’t something they wanted because the TV said it was cool to have. They were as excited as us to read our little notes. But most of all we were all happy to just be together.
The Christmas spirit isn’t something you have thanks to the decorations you have, the gifts you buy, how much you bake or the Christmas movies you watch. It is something you feel inside when all you want is to be with the people you love and you know that you don’t need anything else but them to be happy.