“Oh cool, a book.” What better words to hear my six year-old son say on opening his first present. He doesn’t do sarcasm, not yet anyway, so it was said in all sincerity in case you were wondering. Also, in case you are still wondering, it was George’s Marvellous Medicine.
So I was less worried knowing this was to be the year his two-year campaign for a Nintendo DS finally paid off. The thing may have shot straight to the top of his all-time-best-present list, and he may have a minor obsession with Lego Star Wars at the moment, but he’s still playing slightly unfathomable imaginary games with action figures and even choosing to read on his own sometimes.
I was also pleased when he came into the kitchen yesterday with a request. “I don’t like this [cake with bits in it], can I have a cut-up apple instead.”
Even baby K seems to have had a good time. He’s not even old enough to play with empty boxes, but lights up when he sees shiny paper and close smiling faces – this last week he’s gone from smiles to the occasional laugh, which is, naturally, delightful.
There’ve also been some fun family gatherings, beyond Christmas Day – when my family, my parents and brother and my wife’s cousin went to my parents-in-law’s house. We had a fun gathering on Sunday to visit some of my wife’s relatives, where conversation took in favourite Kolkata restaurants (mine and another of my wife’s cousin’s is Mocambo, just off Park Street); Hindu and Bengali cinema, with a focus on Amir Khan (who seems generally admired – though I suspect they may not have seen the below-par Ballad of Mangal Pandey) and Satyajit Ray; and some light Bengali conversation practice for me.
This last is an occasional treat. Family conversations on my wife’s side are generally, in this country at least, in English. In fact, on our last trip to India three years ago, the only time conversation was entirely in Bengali it passed in such a rapid-fare blast that I eventually gave up trying to even pick out words.
So it’s been a good Christmas this year, just enough indulging, some good presents and easy family gatherings.