During Christmas time, in school, the local Gulmohar tree used to be spruced up as the Christmas tree and we knew there would be lots of little goodies from Santa under its delicate branches laden with tinsel and ribbons. Every year someone from the school staff or faculty would dress up as Santa on Christmas Day, which would usually be just before school closed down for winter vacations.
I have always known Christmas time to be fun time. I had neighbours who celebrated it, I had friends who decorated their Ashoka tree for the festival, and I went to a school, which made Christmas along with all other festivals special for me.
One of my strongest memories associated with the festival was that of giving and receiving. Not only did our teachers’ encouragement help us create our own little gifts for each other and the town’s Cheshire Home children, the enthusiasm that surrounded the festival resulted in tiny gifts for family members, neighbors and friends too.
Parents would always be dragged into the Yuletide mood simply because we wanted them to give and receive gifts, just like we did with friends and teachers in school. My mother always got an untidy Ikebana arrangement from me and my father would get a quote from the latest issue of the Readers’ Digest on a piece of card paper with flowers sketched around it.
We would always cut a fruitcake on the occasion and feel the sentiment of love and togetherness bring us closer to each other. The years when the family did not celebrate because of certain reasons, Christmas would remain incomplete.
Now I earn my own living and live mostly on my own and yet the spirit of Yuletide fills me come December. Each place I have visited I have carried that special part of me nurtured and encouraged by teachers and elders so many years ago – a part that finds the birth of one good man as an opportunity to share and love others and be loved by them. I hope that every child realizes this beautiful lesson.