I have hardly missed a Christmas in my life so far. As a kid and as a teenager I never wanted to miss one; in later years, especially when life was taken over by the typical family guy’s inevitable routines, I was not allowed to. However it seems that in all these years I have been part of not more than just a single Christmas. When I look back at these Christmases they all look alike. Despite my bodily growth and cognitive progression, how insignificant the latter may be, year after year, the three decades and more years of Christmas celebrations were one and the same.
The darkness of midnight and late December night’s dew adds to the allure of Christmas. Christmas is synonymous with midnight, dew and darkness here, if not with carol, cakes and Christ. The whole village is awoke at midnight; decoration lights, shining paper stars dangling from a treetop or an antenna on the terrace, people in new clothes. In the backdrop of subtle darkness, more than the lights it is the delight that illuminates faces. For many the joyous delight is necessarily not emanating from the festivity marking the birth of someone called Jesus centuries earlier. May be it is the pretext.
The aroma of Christmas also is unique. The smell of new clothes blended with that of talcum powder and perfumes with added pep from an occasional fart caused by a stomach disturbed in the middle of its night work. Women and girls wear that extra beauty in Christmas night. It is like a dream. As the choir goes on singing, always the poor girls complain of sore-throats the next morning, the midnight service progresses. When the service ends the revelry begins. It is ruckus revelry at its religious best; Santa Clause, fire-works, mutual greeting of ‘happy Christmas’, ‘merry Christmas’ with shaking of hands.
Worshipping the nativity model comes next in the order. The nativity crib is the main attraction of Christmas night. Every year the youngsters work overtime to bring the
flavour to their work. The hill, huts, plants –cacti never give it a miss- and the country date tree as the Christmas tree. Every year they make it memorable. Inside the cowshed infant Jesus is flanked by holy Mary, Joseph, angels and some cattle looking startled at the blinding lights and the uninvited guests in their place. From the manger the newborn graciously smiles and blesses his flock with just a small loin cloth in place of a modern day diaper. Bethlehem
Then the revelry shifts to streets. Loudspeakers blare and as they find the decibel inadequate the youth help themselves with their own singing and sloganeering. Booze aided light brawls rear their heads and disappear in no time. By the dawn of 25th December our Christmas is almost over. I hope I will go on with going to church and be part of Christmas in all the years to come. It is not any religious compulsion that drives me to do so, Christmas is ingrained in me as it is with a lot of my fellow villagers many of whom travel hundreds of miles to come to the village and celebrate Christmas. Even in the time of my atheist leanings I had no qualms celebrating Christmas. I found my own way of coping with the guilty of being a Christian; Detaching Christ from Christianity. From Dostoyevsky to Martin Scorsese I think I have learnt some fine lessons.