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Santa’s Gift

Christmas was the most joyful season of my childhood though Santa Claus did not play any significant role in it. My childhood was lived out in a village which did not even have electricity until I reached high school. Many people were very poor too. Only a few children completed school education. Parents found it economically wiser to send their children to work in the farms or elsewhere.

The parish church’s carol team was large and lively in those days in spite of the misery of human existence. Santa was an inevitable part of the carol team. That was the only Santa in my childhood. That Santa did not ever bring any gifts for anyone. Rather, that Santa took something from every home – Christmas donation for the parish.

To this day, every year Santa comes with the church’s carol team. But drastic changes have occurred to the team. Last year there were just three men and the Santa. One man carried the infant Jesus, another carried the account book for entering the donation amounts, and the third carried a drum which he beat once in a while just to let the neighbour know that the team was approaching. No carols. The Santa looked like a lifeless guy who was pushed into a fancy dress show that he did not want to join. This is not even a parody of the old carol team, I thought. This is a mockery. Maybe, soon the parish will opt for virtual carols and virtual Santa. Your donations can be paid online. Google Pay is very common here in my village; even the wayside cubicle shops have the QR codes for GPay.

The only place where I came across a Santa that gave away something as gifts was Delhi. The residential school where I taught for a decade and a half used to celebrate Christmas until the management changed to a shady religious enterprise which killed the school sooner than anyone of us associated with the school imagined.

The school hardly had any Christian students. There were just three members on the staff who were Christians; one of them was me who was Christian only in name. Yet one teacher took the initiative to organise a small celebration with a Christmas tree and a Santa. This Santa carried toffees galore in his bag and every now and then he would plunge his hand into the bag, pull out a fistful of toffees and throw it randomly to the students. A very generous Santa on an alien soil!

As a child, however, I had never expected anything from the Santa of my parish church – not even toffees. The church and such institutions seldom gave anything to anyone; they only took many things from people. The situation isn’t much different even today. The only difference is there was effervescent joy in the olden days in the antics of Santa and the singing of the entire carol team. Now the entire exercise is nothing more than a desolate ritual of collecting annual taxes from the faithful.

I do long for a spirited Santa during Christmas. Not a comic figure with a belly that bulges like a misshapen tumour and a silly mask that reminds me strangely of T S Eliot’s Tiresias [Waste Land]. But the youngsters of the parish don’t seem interested in Santa and carols anymore. They are all going abroad. Soon my parish may be left with some Tiresiases only!

I do put up a star and some lights in front of my house to join in the celebrations. Santa is welcome to spread his joy. I imagine him coming on an ethereal sledge drawn by a bevy of graceful reindeers. Santa with a lot of cheer, the real Christmas gift.

PS. Written for Indispire Edition 461: Santa Claus and you. Any association or memory or nostalgia or whatever? #SantaAndMe


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  1. That's sad. Santa was a figure in my childhood. It sounds like where you are they should just do away with the character.

    1. I agree with you. A lifeless cheerless Santa is worse than No Santa.

  2. Hari OM
    I was never big on Saint Nick (although the reindeer are undeniably cute); always preferred to linger in the Nativity tale... YAM xx

    1. In this part of the world, Santa is becoming a commercial property or tool.

  3. ...Tomichan, you bring up some interesting points. I feel that music is universal, it can bring joy to those who have little joy in their lives. Your childhood and mine were quite different. Our family in the 1950s was working class. My father worked in a factory, but had a skill. By today's standards we didn't have much, but we did know that! Both my sister and I went to college, I was the first in my family. We grew up in a church environment and enjoyed a religious and secular Christmas and we still do. A church when it takes an offering should say, give what you can and take what you need. Somethings about us are different, but basically you are the same. I wish that more people understood this. I send my warmest Christmas greeting. ☃️ 🎄 ❄️ 🎅🏼

    1. Merry Christmas to you, Tom. In your part of the world, Christmas has an entirely different texture - colors, music... Here, it's a much tuned down affair, especially now with a different political situation...

  4. Christmas, for me, has become overshadowed by commercialism. 🎄 Instead of emphasizing the sacred significance of Christ's birth, the holiday now seems consumed by a culture of excessive shopping for gifts. 🎁

    Growing up, the highlight of our Christmas celebrations was the Midnight Mass. The focus was always on the birth of Christ.

    1. You're right, commercialism has caught up with Christmas here too. In the rural areas, it tends yo be just another ritual and not more.

  5. I enjoy Christmas, because it's a time of the year I especially like and have fond memories of.

  6. Everything has become a desolate and ritualistic practice these days with money as the centre point. Can so relate to this post.

    1. When religious affairs turn commercial, there's tragedy in the making.

  7. Nice to read,
    I'm going to Church during Christmas Eve in Guwahati.
    Merry Christmas, Greetings


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