Does a Baby Really Need a Christmas Present?

Baby's First ChristmasSo it's Kavya's first Christmas. She'll be 10 months old, and we'll be in California, sans snow, sans tree. Sans celebration? Christmas has always been an odd holiday for my family. We're not Christian, by any stretch of the imagination, yet since we got to this country when I was all of 4, we've celebrated. Growing up, we had a tree -- fake and white, with silver accents, bought for five bucks at a garage sale -- and presents and even Christmas cookies. Of course, then there was the signature masala turkey and spicy alu ki tikkis to round things out.

Now it's time to create our own version of Christmas with Kavi -- and I'm wondering, since she won't even remember and we're on a budget and all, is it worth going all out?


And my answer is a resounding yes!

So what if we'll be in California, where there will be no snow. And perhaps no tree. We'll still manage to make it festive. We're planning to institute our own holiday traditions for Kavya, right from the start. More important than presents, really, is the sense of ritual we give her, the memories we'll be creating, even when she's too young to realize what's happening.

After all, I don't remember what I got for Christmas when I was 5 or 8 or 12. But I do remember the timeless moments we spent as a family, gathering around, playing in the snow if it was a white Christmas, baking (usually inedible) cookies, carving masala turkey, and making memories. My parents pulled it all together to make us feel a part of our new community and its traditions. They didn't always get it "right" -- the first few years, the presents ended up in the chimney instead of under our day-glo tree -- but we have fond memories of the holiday. It was about the ritual of the act, the gathering of loved ones in celebration, whether it was Christmas or Diwali or New Year's eve.

And Kavya's first Christmas will be extra special, because she'll get to spend time with her Dada and Dadi, the grandparents she hasn't seen since she was 3 months old. She'll get to hang with Navreet Buaji and her cousin Seerit, who'll no doubt be taking on the big sis mantle by now. And maybe there won't be masala turkey -- or maybe I'll just swipe the recipe from my mom and make one anyway.

Then she'll get to celebrate all over again when we get back home to Jersey, with her nani and nana and Meena Masi and Tarun Mamaji, all of whom will be waiting with presents and extended holiday cheer. Because it's the spirit of the season that counts, more so than a date on the calendar.

Either way, there will be presents and definitely major memorable moments, all commemorated on film so Kavya can see that even when she was too small to realize what was going on, her parents were right there with her on her first Christmas, making sure it was super-special. As it should be.

How are/did you celebrate baby's first Christmas? Do you institute any specific holiday traditions or rituals?

Image via wfyurasko/Flickr

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