12 Days of Christmas – Anushka Ravishankar

Over there in India is my friend Anushka Ravishanka. She is the Regional Advisor for the Indian SCBWI chapter. I was in India in November to chat to the gathering members there and they are a delightful crew. Anushka and I had heaps of fun together but of course as usual time just flew by.

Anushka has a very lovely view of Christmas that is oh so wonderful to read!


Christmas didn’t really belong to us. We were the guests, wide-eyed, pleased to be welcomed into the warmth, the colour and the happiness.

In the small town I lived in, we all went to schools run by Christian missionaries, there were a lot of Anglo-Indians in the neighbourhood and our closest family friends were Syrian Christians from Kerala. So though we never had our own Christmas tree or lights, we got caught up in the Christmas celebrations, and always looked forward to them with great excitement.

There were parties at the local club (a throwback to colonial times – and in those days, still very Raj-like, with dances and tombolas and Christmas parties), of which the highlight for me was the gift-giving. Every parent bought a gift and the gifts were mixed up and given out, so you never knew what you would get. I remember the excitement of going up on stage when my name was called and the suspense of what the prettily wrapped-up package would contain!

For my parents and their friends, the circle of people from their home state of Kerala was like family. We grew up thinking of them as our uncles and aunts. So during Christmas, when we all spent time together, I suppose it was the closest to a family Christmas that people who lived faraway from home could get. It’s interesting, in retrospect, how wonderfully we integrated all our festivals.

Just as we celebrated Christmas with them, they celebrated our festivals, Onam and Vishu, with us. There was always plenty of food and drink and much singing. What stays in my memory over the years, apart from the music and the food, is the warmth and the sense of belonging. A truly Christmasy feeling!


Anushka Ravishankar has written over twenty-five books for children, including picture books in verse, chapter books, retellings of folk tales and non-fiction. Several of them have been published internationally and have won awards. She is now principal platypus at Duckbill Books, which publishes books for children and young adults.

Some of her books are:

  • Tiger on a Tree,
  • Moin and the Monster
  • the Zain and Ana series
  • Excuses! Excuses! and
  • The Rumour.

….. and you can find Duckbill at www.duckbill.in.

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