It amazes me to see how middle class India has adopted the concept of celebration, of everything possible! Whereas in our childhood, Christmas was significant only to Christians or those of us semi-Catholics who studied in missionary schools, today it is a widely celebrated festival in urban India. Weeks before Christmas, the markets are filled with strange looking Christmas trees and pretty decorations and bakeries produce plum cake by the thousands every day. No matter who you are, if you can afford it, you will throw or attend Xmas parties, buy gifts for your kids, eat, drink and be merry! Even the cynical view that looks down at the the commercialization of festivals like Valentine’s and Xmas and even of traditionally big festivals like Diwali cannot deny that festival cheer is infectious and great for the economy as well!
Children, specifically, have adopted Christmas in a big way. And we can thank the myth of Santa Claus for this. A few years ago, when Udai was about three, it so happened that the two of us were in Galleria market on 24th evening and I was trying to figure out a way to celebrate Xmas with the family. So Udai and me took on the role of Santa and bought gifts for everyone, packed them and left them out on the dining table for the night! He was rather thrilled with the revelation that Santa did not really exist but we could all be Santa for each other!
This Xmas, Aadyaa was being her usual competitive self and demanding a tree for our home. I was in no mood to buy the scrawny paper trees I saw in the market, partly because I am not very good at packing and storing these things for the next time! So I decided that we would make do or Xmas decor at home, using whatever skills and resources we have! So we set to work bout ten days before Xmas and managed to draw, paint and cut out a Xmas tree from thermocol and make home made little decorations for the potted Arokaria plant. We also made a wreath using the plastic packing that comes with flavored yoghurt, aluminum foil and ribbon! All simple things that the kids could help me with, some imagination and lots of together time!
Aadyaa’s Santa myth was broken this year as well, when her school teacher explained that Santa is actually just the parents putting in gifts instead of Santa. But she is little and a bit reluctant to let go of Santa entirely. Yesterday, we had a carol singing session in the car while driving to a friend’s place- Udai, Aadyaa, Nupur and me. And I could see that baby Jesus and Santa were the central characters for her!
So imagine her absolute delight when papa became Santa for their kiddie Xmas party today! She couldn’t let go and she was amazed to see her friends go berserk screaming “Rahul uncle Santa”, proud and at the same time a bit confused about having to share papa with so many excited friends! What a long way small gestures can go with young children!
It’s been a great Christmas for us. Friends stayed over, we spent time with loved ones, the children are happy and content. The world is a wonderful place…….This is what festivals are about. They remind you of the joy and security we derive from human relationships, they remind you that we should be there for each other in times of happiness and in times of need, they help you demonstrate respect, love and affection. These are all vital for our survival as humans. For me, in the light of all the madness of this past week-rapes, protests, anger, frustration, negligence and a desperate pursuit of hope in dark times- Christmas must be about reviving empathy, tolerance and love. Let’s resolve to have positive thinking pave the pay way into the New Year!