The Charm of Christmas…
My Brother: Di! I have hung my stocking on the bedpost. Where is yours?
Me: Mine is on the handle of the bathroom door!
This was a conversation we had every Christmas. My brother and I. It was a ritual actually. And we always had it when mom was in the vicinity. We were young and quite stupid but we weren’t stupid enough to believe that Santa would manifest out of the clouds, come riding on his sleigh, slip down our chimney (something that our house didn’t even possess) and place delightful little things in our stockings. We knew it was mom who played Santa each year. We just knew it.
Every year we would jump out of our beds and grab our stockings which were always filled with gifts of our choice- chocolates, candies, Barbie dolls, G I Joe figures and what not. One Christmas morning we found that our stockings were empty. Crestfallen and a little miffed we went down to the kitchen and started nibbling on aaloo parathas. “What happened?”, asked mom. “Santa didn’t give us presents this year”, mumbled my brother, trying to keep his tears from rolling down. “Aww… When the gifts are very big he places them under the pillow. Just go and check”, said mom as she winked at us. No sooner did she say that than we ran towards our bedroom and hurled the pillows to the other end of the room. And there they were, two large boxes packed in red and golden wrapping paper.
Christmas eve was always spent decorating a giant pine tree which stood gloriously in our courtyard. Dad is extremely fond plants; actually his love for plants borders on insanity. Needless to say that a pine tree was procured promptly and placed in our courtyard when we asked for it. Its glistening leaves covered with twinkling lights, cotton-wool snow flakes and tiny match-box presents looked so enchanting that we couldn’t take our eyes off it.
My younger brother would dress up as Santa albeit a tiny and skinny one and distribute sweets in our colony. Grandpa would set up a small bonfire and we would spend the evening eating cake, sipping on piping hot tomato soup and playing dumb charades and antakshari.
We have stopped doing it now. Perhaps the entire exercise has become a tad too childish for our liking. Or may be we just don’t have the time. But Christmas still brings out the child in me. Yesterday when we stopped at the signal I saw a peddler selling Santa caps and I couldn’t stop myself from buying one. As we moved ahead the Christmas decorations on the shops and malls flashed by and the childhood memories came trickling back. The tune of “Rudolf, the red nosed rein-deer” started playing in the mind and I chuckled. I guess no matter how old you become, the charm of Christmas always remains.