3.1# HO HO..OH!

When I was a teenager, it was Archies comics that gave me my first 'White Christmas' dream. The way the entire gang- Archie, Betty, Veronica, Moose, Jughead, Reggie played in the snow and built a snowman together; the way Betty and Veronica queued up for hours at 5am in a soldier mode for the unbelievable christmas discounts; the way everyone would wear Santa caps and sing carols in big groups out in the snow; the way Jughead swallowed not one but several christmas special coffees and meals at Pop Tate looking out at a pristine white view. Infact, the entire christmasy feel where 'Jingle bells' plays in the background and beautiful decorations are in sight no matter where you are or what you're doing the entire holiday season. I still haven't lived my childhood X-mas dream. But my heart tells me, the day I'll live it isn't many christmases away.

I have often seen that even those who don't know what Christmas day celebration is exactly for, celebrate the joyous spirit of it. As endearing it is, it's kind of funny too when you hear stories of a few strange people who get to know much later that they are celebrating Jesus Christ's birthday and not Santa's. And that the stocking which people hang is not because they have lost the other of the pair and are therefore giving away to needy :D

Till 4th grade, my school used to organise sleepovers for us students on Christmas eve. Sounds unreal, right? But, true :D The day would start with a group dance performance (I still remember I wore a blue tunic) and then we'd sing christmas carols on stage. 'Rudolph the red nose reindeer, had a very shiny nose' was my top ranking (Till date I sing it aloud:) ) Afterwards all the parents would drop the kids in their respective classes, where there were no tables or chairs, instead mattresses to sleep on for the night. Once the oldies left, it was a riot!!! We used to party till we drop and eat till our stomachs bursted! The Christmas tree at the school was an enchanting vision which is still crystal clear in my head. I always used to get really upset returning home the next morning. My Mom is a sweetheart and made sure we had a Christmas tree of our own. Not a real one, but a cute small green tree with attached gifts kept on the table next to my bed :) She even wanted to get me a Santa miniature and would ask me, but then cutely used to forget what to call him. Somehow, Santa as a name never stuck in her head and he was always our 'Christmas Father' for her :) 

25th December was a day the kids in the house would look forward to spend at the neighbouring creche. I was pretty much a 'bhukkad' tomboyish sort of child and waited since morning for the nuns in the creche to gift us home made plum cake. Apart from the school sleepover, this visit to the creche was the highlight of my growing up days during Christmas. The creche was always brightly lit and bustling with kids and there were these star shaped lamps all over, making it look like a paradise the moment we'd step in. I think the father and the nuns really enjoyed seeing the sparkle in my eyes as I gazed at the cookies, the cakes and the candies and so many other goodies. From the first step to the last I kept eating and smiling much to my siblings' amusement. What really had me in awe was the room full of birthday cards for Jesus. Not one, Not two, Not ten, Not twenty! They used to hang about a 100 cards on several ropes passing zigzag through the room. I used to be enamoured by all of it...infact still am. The next room was where they prayed. They used to light up the prayer room using dozens and dozens of candles and was absolutely divine!. It's now I realise how that child (aka me) was making the deepest memories and who knew I would be sharing it with so many of you out there. In that creche, the last room had me completely bewitched. They had a beautiful nativity scene display which they built using miniatures of infant Jesus, Mother Mary, Father Joseph, Angels, Shepherd etc. It looked so real that I used to spend a long time looking at it (only the plum cake could drag me away). By the way Plum Cakes are still the most permanent fixture of my Christmas.

Away from my native place, I thought of rediscovering the 'Christmasy feel' all over again here in Mumbai. I stepped out in malls, in fests, on streets, But apart from clean shaven and skinny Santas, didn't find much. Even the lights and the decorations somehow didn't give me the festive feel. Mr Bling was pretty much depressed and missing his English Santa. So, to pep him up, we went for Christmas shopping. There were quite a few stores around selling trees and garlands and bells etc. But the cheap 'Made in China' products brought down the mood even further and the extreme coaxing by the shopkeepers to buy CHRICHHMACHH special was a bit irritating. We finally settled for a cute little tree from Hamley's which atleast seemed of a decent quality. And now there was a Christmas party to go to (Yayyy!) That too of a really cool friend who shares his last name with yesteryear's famous movie don's famous right hand man. heh heh. But before that, we went to the most disappointing Grub fest ever..the one in Kurla this time. I've been to the Pune one previously and as much as I spoke high of it to others, I was let down by this one. Guess what, both Mr Bling and little brother (Lil'B) had fasted the entire day to binge eat at the fest! hah! That's why I never break up with food no matter what ;) It finally was a lovely time at the party later on. We danced to Hindi songs from the 90s (everyone I know loves them though most are too embarrassed to declare their love..tsk tsk ). And felt for a while as if the Santa was our very own Punjabi character SANTAA aka Santa who was being celebrated with solid punjabi songs. It was indeed heart warming to see everyone having a good time. It wasn't the usual Christmas of my childhood, or the adult one where I used to walk down to the market in the chill of the North Indian winter with earphones plugged, listening to George Michael's song on loop. "Last Christmas" it was. Literally, as the legendary musician bid us goodbye this christmas day and so did the real X-mas spirit for me on the streets. I did not hear even a single store playing Jingle bells or any other. It just seemed like disinterested scrawny men dressed as Santas only to sell things and do business (that too without a smile). I saw not a single jolly, portly man dressed as Santa spreading the warmth to the innocent kids who wait for Santa all year long. Being commercial is understandable ,but let's remember it is a day to fulfill wishes and spread smiles. I wish to see more cheery spirit the next 25th. And who knows I might just live my dream of a White Christmas finally :) 

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