No Covid can snatch our dreams for 2021
Christmas is here. Possibly the most widely celebrated festival across the world and one of the widely celebrated ones in Kerala.
I was fortunate enough to experience Christmas across a few diverse regions. These include my formative years in North India, a decade in the US in my 30s, and then the past decade and half at Kerala.
In the US, where it is a mass celebration, the roughly 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and Xmas is the period of relaxation and joy. Work slows down, everyone is in festival mood. The best part I remember is that ahead of Christmas, our Managers would invite us to one of their homes and cook breakfast for us. Typically bread, egg dishes of all types, and what is called as spiked juice! Our entire morning was spent there, a partial day off, where we relaxed, opened up, relived the year, with no level barriers in our conversation!
In North India, even though Christmas was less widely celebrated, we had our share of good fun.
Here is what my friend and schoolmate, George Abraham, felt, when looking back:
“My best memories are my school days X mas. From early morning mom & dad were seen busy in giving sweets (cake, homemade salty items etc) to neighbours.......we were the couriers. Then came the process of inviting friends to have the taste of the same. Those were the days which I can't forget till my last breath.”
George is on the dot. I do remember visiting his home, listening to wonderful music on the rare gramophone player his house had, and relishing the cake, the aroma of which is still there, with me!
Now coming back to Kerala. How is Christmas celebrated here? Let me state that in Meghana’s words, who grew up in Kerala, and has experienced it during her formative years, her college days and as a working woman.
“Come December and a tiny tingling of excitement springs from within; for, Christmas is in the air! The month carries in itself an unfathomable tenderness and love that multiplies with each passing day.
Christmas for me, (and for most Malayali’s) is a lot more than just an auspicious day. It is but a feeling that lasts throughout the span of the season. It’s an ensemble of the most beautiful emotions that make life worth living. Christmas is all about sharing, caring, and rejoicing in the little pleasantries of life.
From the beginning of the month, the shops would start stocking up the most enticing Christmas décors. Stars of myriad colours and sizes would start popping up on every building, nook, and corner. In another week, trees would start getting decked up with tiniest of lights and adorned with the prettiest of tinsels. Christmas wreaths and candy sticks start hanging from doors and snowmen and cribs would start springing up in due course. This is the only time of the year when you would see plum cakes (with and without icing) lining up the front rows of the display counters of bakeries. And then comes the best part; the carols that invoke the true spirit of Christmas start echoing from every church, school, college, and institution in the neighbourhood. There is really no Christmas without Carols! The harmony of the choir is in itself a feast for the soul.
As I take a jog down memory lane, the most vivid memory I have is that of the Christmas celebrations at school. Every single year, we would enact the story of the birth of the Christ. The script would remain the same year on year; but the actors would keep rotating. I have gone from being the shepherd to the angel to being Mother Mary. But there was one thing that remained consistent for a good number of years; my excitement at watching the star travel from one end of our auditorium up to the stage where the crib would be set up. As the tale goes, a voice from heaven informed the three kings of the birth of Christ and this divine star led their way to the manger that hosted Him.
Christmas season is all about gifts and the beauty of giving. I have always revelled in the ideology of the lovable sweet old Santa Claus on his reindeers bearing gifts. The tradition of “Christmas friend” is yet again a reminder of the happiness. Perhaps for many, Christmas might be the only time of the year when they receive a gift from a loved one. And again, it is perhaps the only time of the year for many families to meet up, relishing the comfort of togetherness.
All in all, Christmas is the culmination of these countless little charms that sum up to create the great magic of Joy.”
What is my past decade and half experience then?
What Meghana has stated above, I have experienced it, via some of the work I was doing during my corporate stint. I have visited many institutes that are run by Christian organisations, schools, and colleges, during the week of Xmas. A contained festive mood, silent and peaceful, the decorations, and not to forget the fresh cake and the sweet wine that accompanied it!
It is also the period of the year when I try to recollect all those people, who have helped me in small and big ways, to make my travel of life richer. I like sending personal notes and not scripted ones and do take time to make a list of such people and thank them individually.
This year is different. Most of us, especially the elders, are locked at home. There is minimal venturing out. Festivities are literally non-existent. Out little office is all remote since March, so no stars or cakes or wine this time. Everything has gone virtual.
Of course, the thank you notes will happen. The star at home can still happen. The peace and music. Yes, can happen. The joy of wishing people in person an Advance Happy New Year. Will not. But we are all still connected, virtually.
So how do I end this article? As I go back in time, from my school, to college, to my job, corporate stint, and venture, one thing has not changed for sure. Christmas and New Year is a period of thanking the near and dear, from the heart, and wishing them, a fantastic beginning to a fresh set of dreams!
Let that continue. For dreams are what humans are designed to. Worthy dreams, that can get us into action, some individual, and many collective, that can help us achieve the greater purpose of life.
Let 2021 begin, with a fresh set of dreams, that will inspire us all. No Corona or Covid can stop that. For, Corona can only affect our body, and cannot take away the dreams from the realms of our minds.