gift-wrapping-for-cheapos File this under “tips for the new Depression”:

Make your own wrapping paper with grocery sacks and a bit of tempera paint!

January is National Hot Tea Month! How did I miss this? Move over, Blood Donor, Braille Literacy, Hobbies, Oatmeal, and Soup: hot tea is what makes January January. (For a comprehensive list of inconsequential holidays (Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day, aka January 12, why didn’t you announce your presence?!) in the first month of the year, I suggest

OK, I promise: Last gif animation of the day. Now, laugh! Laugh at the merriment!

Happy New Year. Welcome to 2008. Eat more creampuffs.

Yeah, when you’re the youngest of seven kids, the holidays tend to be an extended affair.  


Grandchildren were amused by crinkled paper ….


… unholy quantities of food and drink were consumed …


… and whilst jiggling a four-month-old on his knee, Uncle B regaled the family with a story about airport security personnel overlooking mortar shells falling out of his backpack when he returned from Iraq. (Similar TSA officials, it should be noted, frisked my very Indian, heavily bearded and mustachioed husband at JFK International Airport, and grilled him for 15 minutes about looking “nervous” — I mean, he was preparing to visit his in-laws for the first time, how else would he look? — as I stood impatiently, waiting to make our way to the gate.)

Family, food, cream puffs, tiny disco balls … what more can a girl ask for?

Gridskipper, the bastion of hip urban travel, has for some reasons decided to highlight the benefit of Christmassing in India…without actually saying anything. John Rambow notes:

Christmas in India! What could be wackier? It’s true that Christians make up only a sliver of India’s total population. But in some areas, such as parts of Kerala and Goa, on the southwest coast, their numbers may be as high as 20%. Additionally, cities that were once centers of power under the British Raj, including Kolkata (Calcutta), Bangalore, and Chennai, also have fair numbers of Jesus-loving types, and that means garlands, nativity scenes, and Christmas stars are easy to spot in December.

Yes, what COULD be wackier? Those heathens, always coopting our perfectly benign, semi-secular traditions; what will they do next — buy their sweethearts chocolates on Valentine’s Day? Insane-o!

What disturbs me most about this, though, is not that Rambow is so patronizingly astounded that people in another culture might be Christian and/or celebrate “Western” holidays, but that Gridskipper — which I find generally informative and helpful — moves so far away from its generally palatable tips about occasion- and location-specific to-dos. Why not stick with your formula and highlight the five best places for a Christmas brunch in Delhi or Mumbai, rather than mawkishly marveling about another symptom of globalization?

To fill their void, my picks for making merry in India’s capitol:

1) Wenger’s in CP

2) Pam’s Breakfast & Food Centre (for more egg-based propaganda than you can shake a stick at)

3) Chocolate Wheel in Jor Bagh

4) The German Christmas carnival in Chanakyapuri

5) INA Market, across from Dilli Haat, for any fresh fixing you need to create your own Christmas dinner (even the notoriously hard-to-find jellied cranberry sauce)

(Alternatively, some ideas from journalists at the Hindustan Times, Times of India, and The Indian Express.)

My step-aunt Jana died this morning. I barely knew her, and if I were as vociferously Mormon as her extended family, I would be questioning my faith. What kind of benevolent omniscent being takes his own on the eve of his holiest day? Or, conversely, is this an attestation to the brute injustice of all life, proof that the world is unfair regardless of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism? I don’t know. And we’re all too involved in our immediate circumstances to ponder over the point too long. Here’s to mindfulness, reflection, and the dawning of a new day.