It is Christmas time again and most of us are getting ready to celebrate the festival with our family and friends. What I love about living in India is that everyone celebrates all festivals irrespective of religion and culture. I remember celebrating Christmas with my non-Christian friends for the longest time and it has always been a lot of fun.

As a little girl, Christmas for me meant celebrating the Birthday of Jesus and Christmas time meant putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house, singing Christmas carols, baking Christmas cakes, the dried fruit of which had been soaked in large quantities of rum for a whole year and buying gifts for one another which would be laid out under the Christmas tree; only to be opened on Christmas day.   A traditional Christmas with my family would mean waking up early and going to church first, it was only after we came home from Christmas service that we were allowed to open our presents and then have a large feast of roast chicken, gravy and steamed vegetables.

Christmas has traditionally been a time to spend quality with family and friends and many people living away from home take time out to go back home and enjoy the festive spirit with their loved ones. But, lately it has been observed that Christmas has now become highly commercial and just an occasion to spend money and just buy, buy and buy more. Not many people even know the real reason why Christmas is celebrated any more and think of it as the birthday of “Father Christmas” and as just another excuse to party, shop, exchange gifts and take it easy, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it just makes me sad. Do we even know what we’re celebrating?

It is my observation that as a minority in India, most Christians are still highly in touch with their faith and regularly go to church. Christmas day is one of the most important days of the Christian faith, considering it signifies the birth of Jesus Christ and the day ideally should begin with going to church to celebrate the coming of the Lord (I am no religious authority, but this is just my opinion).

Christmas is also the time of sharing and giving and exchanging gifts is an important Christmas tradition. But in my opinion, we exchange gifts with our families and friends who already have enough. On the contrary we should use this season to share with them who don’t have much, or maybe just spend time with people who have no friends or family; like spending a day with children at an orphanage or elderly people at an old age home, or maybe volunteering at your local animal shelters. There are many NGO’s in India who could do with our contributions in terms of time or any money we would like to help them with. This is what I think the true spirit of Christmas is!

So this year, let us understand the essence of Christmas and celebrate it in its real sense and in a balanced manner of sharing and giving and also with a lot of fun!

 

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