Gift shops brimming with faux wreaths, jars of shiny decorations, stars and blinking, colourful lights; friends and families checking days on the calendar for getogethers; or even malls setting up Christmas villages, with a jolly Santa making his rounds among shoppers — these are traditions we are used to. But creative minds in the city don’t just want any plain Jane X’mas!
“I work with kids as a leadership coach and try to inculcate the habit of reading among the children. Everyone in my family is a voracious reader as well,” says Deepa Athreya. This December, her family decided to use their magnificent library of books to make a Christmas tree! “We are Hindus, so we don’t celebrate usually. But this month, we saw Chennaiites do so much for each other. X’mas is all about the spirit of giving and this was our way of showing that,” she smiles, adding that the family built the tree together. “My daughter even invited her friends to write messages. It’s in the same corner as our golu was during Navarathri. It’s so warm, and now we’re feeling the positive energy in the house.”
But kids aren’t that easy to please, as proven by city-based writer Judy Balan, who attempted to assemble a similar tree – with a snarky and sassy nine-year-old breathing down her neck. “I had seen a lot of these book trees online; it seemed so simple. But it took me two hours, with my daughter Kiara providing some commentary like ‘I could have done it much better’, and so on,” Judy laughs. “We didn’t do much decorating, but we have a trio of suspicious-looking penguins on top. Now, one’s fallen off and another is lost,” she sighs humourously.
The Crowne Plaza hotel also launched their impressive ‘Tree of Hope’ — an installation of pressed bottles has been made by artist Rahool Saksena, in what made for a stunning spectacle. But another unique Xmas activity that’s been capturing the attention of the youngster is a Harry Potter theme party! Organised by online library iloveread.in, the event has been trending on Chennai social forums for over two weeks now – with several aspiring witches, wizards and Squibs (who knows) fighting for slots. “We have had Enid Blyton, Sherlock Holmes and Stephen King-themed parties before — X’mas was perfect to celebrate Rowling and Potter. A list of characters were drawn up, and allocated randomly to participants who signed up quickly, as there is limited space. Also, overage and underage Muggles weren’t allowed,” says Karthika Gopalakrishnan, manager at Iloveread.
Anagha Natraj, whose brainchild the party was, says apart from an HP quiz and interactive discussions on fan theories, the costume party will also have food like Chocolate Frogs and Butterbeer! “We’re also having a Hogwarts-like ambience — cauldrons, broomsticks, the platform at 93/4, and so on,” she grins. It’s certainly pleasing to see good ol’ Chennai getting back on its feet for this beautiful holiday. While many also have travel plans on their minds, Kavita Thomas, a singer, is busy planning for a special show with her friends from the Diva Collective. “It’s definitely a Christmas show since it’s bang on the day. With the month we’ve been having, it’s time for some holiday cheer,” she says. And what exactly will they be performing – any classic tunes? “I prefer not to reveal too much about our set list, but it will definitely be a mix of contemporary X’mas favourites, jazzed up a bit,” she grins. Looks like the bells have indeed begun chiming in Chennai — what about you?
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