Christmas cheer and magic is in the air. I was in Switzerland early November and the enchanting Christmas atmosphere still lingers in my veins. Showers of fairy lights suspended atop Zurich streets like a rainfall of stars, live bands in every street, street kiosks serving Gluwine – the local hot wine and champagne with chocolate… yes, Christmas is magical right now and this season is always full of surprise and adventure. But around New Year, to call it festive is an understatement. The warmth of the Swiss people and the hot wine under street heaters allowed me to actually enjoy the biting cold.
THE FESTIVE SPIRIT
But is my article about Switzerland? No, it is about the festive spirit. Cakes, parties, clothes, presents and more. In our materialistic world of buy, want, procure, desire, grab and covet, do we stop to think of the less fortunate in a country who do not manage a meal a week?
Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, in her autobiographical book Drama Queen chides her friend, “Oh yeah, you mean you actually think every time you buy yourself a five lakh Gucci bag? Have you ever earned a single penny for yourself, even once in your whole life? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, in a poor country like India, spending so much on trivialities? Only a brain-dead person would do that!”
Don’t get me wrong! Am I propounding austere Gandhigiri? Not at all. All I’m saying is that along with the festivities, parties and purchases, this season also spells loving, caring, sharing the goodness and graces of God’s love and giving happiness to others.
Through prayer, celebration and festivities, the rich and poor come together as one, especially for the special Christmas prayers and Midnight Mass held in churches on the eve of 25 December – the feast of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. Some families visit orphanages, street children and old age homes to share goodies and time with the less privileged. I’d like to see more Indians do that. Spend and share with people whose lot is miniscule; do not gift and share with affluent family and friends to gain popularity.
NOT ABOUT PARTIES
While for the ‘charmed circle’ the greatest peril is about the ‘exhausting’ parties to be juggled, the innumerable clothes and gowns and designer handbags to be contemplated, bought, matched, and the gifts to be opened, for our less fortunate countrymen, the holidays mean unmanageable financial and emotional burden. Children and parents go without gifts of any kind and even food.
THE JOY OF CHARITY
Clichéd as it may sound, there is a special feeling of warmth when you do something kind for those who cannot afford special privileges, and however small or big, a tiny gesture or a large act of generosity is in order. The other extreme, who, as they say ‘wouldn’t give you the time of the day, if asked’ have been best condemned in everyone’s favourite Christmas story, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The strange dichotomy that is seen many times is that the ones who have a relative plenitude seem less willing to part with even a miniscule bit, while the comparably less endowed seem to exhibit magnanimity. A touching book from my school library, How Green Was My Valley, has the author’s mother insisting that the postman have a bite during severely impoverished times. It touched my heart every time I read it. I remember incredible kindness from aclassmate in my kindergarten days. Hazel came from a family that had to be very careful about things as they were going through hard financial times. Her mother would divide a small orange between four siblings, and yet she found it in her heart to share her bit with me, a young girl who enjoyed plenitude. That was a lesson I learnt very early – that generosity did not come from excess of material possessions but from largess of heart.
It is time we understood that love and sharing is not only for your boyfriend whose trousers are beginning to arrive at his calves or for the girlfriend whose hot pants are beginning to resemble the cave man’s lion cloth. It means taking a little more notice of other less privileged humans, animals and the planet too. Christmas is about taking care of everything and celebrating what God has done for us.
“Am I propounding austere ‘Gandhigiri’? Not at all. All I’m saying is that along with the festivities, parties and purchases, this season also spells loving, caring, sharing the goodness and graces of God’s love and giving happiness to others.”
Read more of Nisha’s point of view on nishajamvwal.blogspot.in, tweet her on @nishjamvwal and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 3 Issue 6