It is Christmas and three Anglo- Indian families in the city welcome Parshathy. J. Nath into their homes

Marion Meyn and family

Nanjundapuram Road

This Christmas for Marion Meyn is not the same. Her son, working in Dubai, is not at home. “I will miss him. Usually, he is the one who puts the baby Jesus on the crib on the day of Christmas. I wonder who will put it this time.” A teacher at Stanes Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, Marion says the school thrums with excitement during this time. “There are fun games and activities. One of them is called chrisma. We write our names on slips of papers. We shuffle the slips and select one. I become the mother of the person whose name I draw and will have to give him or her Christmas gift.” Then there was the Christmas dance which all the girls and boys would wait for, chips in her friend, Patricia Tanner. “This was the only time we could meet our boyfriends and kiss under the mistletoes.” “We would put on our prettiest frocks and the men would be dressed in suits. It was during that Christmas dance of 1979 that the love between me and my husband blossomed into marriage,” smiles Marion.

Marion says the Christmas of 1999 was the best in her life. “That was my last Christmas with my father. He always was the Santa of our house. The whole family was together. We had such fun.” She recalls how her father used to distribute gifts after the midnight mass. “The children would be so excited. He would put them to sleep in the room on the upper floor, while he dressed up as Santa! Christmas is always a good time. It is the best season of the year because that is when you rejoice and share happiness with your family and loved ones.”

Terrence King and family

Trichy Road

Laughter, carols and eager conversations greet you at the home of Terrence King. Christmas has arrived a week early here. The entire house, including the plants and the Christmas tree, is lit up. Wreaths adorn the walls. Terrence and his wife Audrey King serve us wine and plum cake. “Now this is the time one goes around meeting friends and relatives, exchanging plum cakes, gifts and a lot of good cheer,” says Terrence as he slices an enormous chunk for me.

Christmas Eve always brings fond memories, says Terrence. “It is such a joyous time for the children. They impatiently wait for the midnight mass to get over so that they can get to the gifts from Santa Claus.” Santa is always the father in the family, says Audrey. “It is a household custom in Anglo-Indian homes. There is even a popular song, ‘I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus’!”

Terrence’s sister Patricia Tanner, his son Shayne, daughter-in-law Ann and their friend Noel Gonzales, join us in the celebration.

As we sip our wines, their four-year-old grandson Aiden King hums a carol ‘Drummer boy’. And the whole family joins him. Terrence, like a professional conductor, asks every one to stand in line.

Then, the whole family sings ‘Silent night, Holy Night’, which wafts out of the windows reminding the sleepy neighbourhood that Christmas is not far.

Anne Carroll and family

Sungam bypass

“Put some more flour! Otherwise, the dough will get sticky ”…“Don’t worry mama it will be alright,” Anne Carroll, a physiotherapist based out of Dubai, and her 89-year-old mother, Norene Teresa Carroll are in a deep argument over the consistency of the dough, which Anne has kneaded to make kalkals that are typical Anglo-Indian Christmas snacks.

For the mother and daughter, it is more than just a cooking session. It brings back a rush of memories. “When we were children, we used to sit around the table and help mama with kneading the dough. We used to be so naughty that we ate the dough. It would taste nice, with all the butter, sugar and egg in it,” says Anne with a wink, as she makes small marble-sized balls out of the dough.

Norene reminisces how Christmas was so different then. “My mother was Irish and father was a South Indian who worked in the railways. We used to live in Villupuram. Boys used to serenade us. My brothers would dress up and imitate others. Once, one of them imitated my mother, by putting pillows on his back!” she laughs.

After they make the balls, they press them on the fork and roll in like a mat. Elvis Carroll, Anne’s nephew too joins them. A student of Stanes Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, he says he too has learnt to make kalkals. “Of course, it is a family tradition. Everyone makes it,” Norene says. Anne heats the frying pan and pours oil into it. “We used to have a bigger frying pan. We used to fry hundreds of kalkals in one go,” says Norene. “Those days the entire family used to be involved. It was not a one man show. That is the spirit of Christmas.”

Recipe for Kalkal

Ingredients

Maida- 1 kg

Butter-half kg

Coconut milk- 2 cups of thick milk

Eggs- 12

Salt- a pinch

Oil- 2 ltrs

Method

Mix flour, butter,

Egg white, coconut milk and a pinch of salt.

Knead well, until you get the smooth chappathi dough consistency.

Make small balls of the dough

Press them on the inner side of a fork and roll in like a mat, without pressing hard.

Roll the entire quantity of dough into small rolls.

Heat oil in a deep frying pan.

Oil will fluff up. Take care not to let the oil overflow.

Do not over fry since the kalkals will change colour.

You can also coat it with sugar syrup or add food colouring to it

Some favourite carols

Silent night

Joy to the world

Away in a manger

O holy night

While shepherds watched their flocks

Sea is for the Christ

Go tell it on the mountains

Holly jolly Christmas

Angels we have heard on high

The first Noel