This was definitely the most unique Christmas both Ryan and I have ever experienced. We had two girls coming to visit us and so we wanted to spend a lot of time in Kanpur with them. It happened that the best time for them to come was over the holidays, so we ended up spending Christmas day in Kanpur in a hotel.
I read many blogs this season about cutting back for Christmas, making it less about stuff and more about Jesus. Well, we didn't really plan for our Christmas to be that way(although I am a strong advocate forthat!!) It just happens that in this stage of life, we don't have a home to put stuff in and the more things you have the more complicated it is to travel. So we all decided not to do presents but just spend time with each other celebrating Jesus.
We started the day all gathering in the Tardy's hotel room and singing Christmas songs acapella(the guitar stayed in Delhi), reading the whole Christmas story and surrounding passages, and praying together. Something about not being bombarded with Christmas materialism made the story of Jesus coming into the world seem even more real and relevant.
We ate good old Kentucky Fried Chicken for our Christmas meal. Spicy chicken of course, that is the only kind they serve here. Oh, and french fries..sadly they don't have massed potatoes at the KFC :(
Luckily, there was a TV station at the hotel that was playing English Christmas movies all day. Earlier in the week, Katy said, "it won't feel like Christmas without watching 'Home Alone". Well guess what, every single Home Alone show was playing that day. Who knew there were so many!!
Although it was refreshing to not have to worry about presents, there is something really special and sacred I think about giving gift on Christmas. I mean it is the day we celebrate the most amazing gift ever coming to us. So we felt like something was missing. Thankfully, Katy had an awesome idea that will hopefully become an annual tradition for us. We all drew each other's names and had to go out in the market and find gifts for each other that cost under 200 rupees, that is $4!!
We drew names and split into two groups to hit up the markets in search of the perfect gift. What is awesome about it is that you can actually get multiple gifts for 200 rupees! After a few hours(some of us took longer than others...Jordan and Hannah!!) we reconvened in the hotel room with our gifts wrapped in the finest newspaper Christmas wrapping! There were some very unique and thoughtful gifts ;) It was a great idea and the perfect thing to add to Christmas in India.
From there, our Christmas day took a bit of a down hill slide. Jordan had been sick for multiple days and started getting chills and a fever, which freaked us out and so he decided to hang out at the hotel for the night. All the girls and Ryan decided we would head to the mall(where they have internet) and try to skype with our families. Little did we know, that Indians do celebrate Christmas in a big way and they celebrate by going to the mall. There were SO, SO many people there. It was packed, and when I say packed it is hard for an American mind to comprehend the level of packedness! Everywhere in India is packed, but this was super, super packed.
We made it to our coffee shop with internet all loaded with our iPhones and computers ready to skype. Well, after we pulled out all our gadgets and dialed up our families, we realized we had attracted quite an audience. Groups of 40-50 people were surrounding us trying to see what we were doing and who we were talking to on our computers. After a few minutes, the workers at the coffee shop(who we have gotten to know :) , told us we should probably leave because it is not good to cause such a scene. We began to pack our stuff up and then the security guards arrived and told us to sit back down! They began moving people along and told them to stop staring at us.
-on a side note, the security guards at the mall are like body builders, it is crazy. Don't think typical American retired old man security guards-oh no, these guys outweigh the majority of Indian men by a good 50lbs! -
So we obeyed them! But, after a while the crowds just got to be overwhelming and we couldn't hear or talk very well. The guys at the coffee shop told us that many villagers were on vacation today and had come into Kanpur and come to the mall because they were not working. Many of these people had never seen Westerners, much less Westerners skyping with their families in the middle of the mall. We grabbed some Dominoes pizza for our Christmas dinner and tried to be as incognito as possible leaving the mall.
It was definitely a Christmas to remember :)
Christmas Lunch: KFC!
about to open our presents
Hannah: fun purple pants, read beaded necklace
Katy: Tattoo on Henna designs, coffee cups, scarf, and necklace
Ryan: Indian shirt
Lauren: shoes, baggy black pants
Jordan: bubbles, thumbs up(like Coke), and spiderman darts
Kristin(not pictured): weaved bag