There's something magical about Christmas that brings a spring in the step and puts a smile on the face. Even more magical is celebrating Christmas in the hills.
My formative years were spent at a convent in Mussoorie. I consider myself fortunate to have been privy to quite a few of the no-holds-barred-"Queen-of-the-Hills"-kind-of Christmas. It is around this time of the year that I feel nostalgic.
My first memories of Christmas are very close to my heart. It was the season to be jolly: the nip in the air, the sparkling lights, the chapel bells, the carol singers, and the knee-deep snow, all with an aura of enchantment. Going by the mood, I expected a wonderful Christmas that year.
The night before Christmas had me bewitched. I couldn't wait for the morning and the only reason I slept actually was because my mother threatened to send Santa back on his way, minus the presents. Early next day, I got up as usual but I could feel the magic in the air (or perhaps it was my heart). A swipe under the pillow, and I found five milk chocolates. A proud moment indeed, as I had made it to Santa's list after all. But that was only the beginning.
A glance towards the fireplace revealed an innocent-looking brown packet placed on the hearth. Tearing open the brown packet gleefully, I found "The Secret Garden" and "Heidi". Both books had me hooked on to reading, forever. My entire Christmas vacation was spent reading these books in the cozy confines of my quilt, with piping hot mugs of chocolate for company. It was bliss.
I once heard someone suggest that Christmas was celebrated in winter to dispel the pall of gloom that surrounds us generally in the chilly months. Near the festival, everywhere, one can see happy faces, radiant with joy. A plenty of scholars out there who scoff at the idea of Santa Claus and his ilk will claim that the entire concept of St Nick living at the North Pole with his elves is just a sham. I don't blame them for that but I believe that anything that touches the innocent heart of a child and bring a smile to the face can't be bad or unbelievable.
Do I need a religion to celebrate Christmas? No. Yuletide is about the spirit of giving, helping the less fortunate, and celebrating with your family and friends: values that are universal. It matters not a whit to which faith I belong. I love Christmas.
I love the jolly old man, with the snowy white beard, in the red suit. If people down my street snigger at me, consider me eccentric for reveling in the Yule spirit, let them be. I'm glad that I have something to smile about and celebrate. So here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
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