The alarm is set for 6 am but you’re already up before that. You throw off the covers and rush to wake your parents. From the moment you wake up you’re filled with this warm, joyous feeling. The front porch is decorated with wreaths and a large light in the shape of a star is hung overlooking the street. It’s Christmas. It’s Santa. It’s the season of carols and hymns. It’s the time of the year when we wait eagerly for our gifts and look forward to spending time with family. Its one of those rare occasions when you’re given free license to pester everyone with charming questions like, ‘’ Why does Santa use the Chimney?’’ and get pretty decent answers too. Every joke cracked ends with a typical hohoho.
At school, on Christmas Eve, there would be a grand function where the teachers would distribute chocolates and someone dressed up as Santa, usually one of the teachers a bit inclined on the ‘healthier’ side, would give gifts to the kids already tugging at his clothes. And afterwards everyone would gather together and prayers and hymns would be sung.
At home, children would excitedly recite to their parents what they want from Santa this year and hang empty stockings on the windows in the belief that Santa would fill them with gifts in the morning. And our parents would fulfill our Christmas wish list, without us knowing of course. Christmas night always witnessed friends and relatives coming over and there would ensue an exchange of gifts followed by shrieks of excitement from the kids. The radio stations would play Christmas music, Christmas specials aired on every other show on TV (favourite cartoons on repeat!), family visits, lots of hugs and cuddles accompanied with of course, the yummy food.
Children would remain awake in the hope of seeing Santa but ultimately succumbing to sleep as always. Remaining ever hopeful that one day we would catch Santa coming down the chimney was what kept alive the spirit of Christmas for us as kids. The excitement of believing in Santa Claus gave Christmas a magical thrill. Which kid won’t love the idea of a magical being on a sleigh pulled by reindeer that can FLY comes down all the way from the North Pole, slides down the chimney and leaves the gifts that you had asked for?
Palpitating excitement was what drove us. From putting up the lights and decorations to helping mom prepare mouth watering favourites while going ho ho ho, everything had a christmassy feel to it. Bubbling with excitement many days before Christmas, every chore was driven by a contagious peppiness.
Then suddenly, one morning we wake up and the magic is gone. Lying in for a few more minutes feels more satisfying as opposed to when we were younger and sheer excitement woke us up earlier than the alarm. We know what to expect. The Christmas tree will be in the living room and the decorations will be put up like it is every year. It’s just another holiday. Those new headphones that we asked for last week or those brand new shoes that we had your eye on are wrapped and ready for us to open. We know it. We don’t exclaim with happiness upon opening gifts. There is just no mystery anymore. That magical presence that filled Christmas mornings is replaced with a dull certainty about what will ensue. That childlike peppiness has vanished and we know that we have grown up. Dad gets busy with the usual decorations, mom starts preparing the holiday feast which she dishes out every year. We no longer pester our parents with demands to meet Santa nor do we tauntingly ask them to guess what we have for them this year. Our doubts on the existence of Santa or his identity have vanished. The magic of Christmas Past has been left behind in the past.
So now that the veil of fantasy has been lifted, what do we do? We still do the same things but not with that level of emotion. We don that Christmas cheer and carry on the traditions. Traditions which are important. Just as we lost the magic of our childhood, our parents came to terms with the same long ago. Their happiness stems from reliving some of that magic through us, vicariously. And that is what Christmas is all about. Its about keeping alive the traditions even though the magic has been lost. It is not just about traditions; it is also the celebration of love. So no Santa Claus does not make for any less of a Christmas. There’s always food. Ho Ho Ho. So let the festivities begin and a Merry Christmas! Have fun!
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