Christmas is here. This is the most beautiful time of the year. Despite the fact that we live in a Buddhist country, this is the season that we as both children and adults most eagerly anticipate. Santa, Christmas tree, decorations, carols, gatherings, holidays… what a lot of fun activities are there when it is Christmas! But do we still feel the same way we did before? Do the kids nowadays follow the same rituals that we did back in the day? With the busy lifestyle and the current situation of the country, parents are unable to do such rituals for their kids. So, kids nowadays miss that, which is unfortunate. However, as a child, I experienced the fun and joy of Christmas. My parents never failed to make the Christmas season merry for us. So, here is a rundown of the Christmas fun, I once cherished as a kid.
When it comes to Christmas, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Christmas tree. Even though we now have mostly plastic Christmas trees, the natural Christmas tree, the cypress tree, can never be replaced. The fragrance and the nature of it are the best qualities in a natural tree. I remember my father bringing such a tree when I was a child. He brings it in the early mornings, and as soon as you wake up, you can feel the fragrance filling up in the house. We used to jump out of bed and rush to see the Christmas tree. We put the tree in a bucket and fill it with sand and rocks to keep it straight before decorating it. Since it is difficult to hang the Christmas decorations on a natural tree, the entire family gathers to decorate the Christmas tree. It brings joy and brings the family together, strengthening the bond between the family. Then we prepare the crib after the tree is up; placing the statues is a battle with the siblings. Father is always in charge of hanging lights. This remains as my favourite memory of the Christmas season.
Though the majority feels Christmas around December, back in the day, most households began preparing for Christmas three to four months before December 25th. Most of us now buy wine, rich cake from outside with the busy life schedules. But in the past, we prepared wine and rich cake in the house. Our mother used to make both of them in the house with the help of us. We used to cut fruits for the rich cake, where most of the pieces ended up in our tummy and we get scolded by our mom, but not aggressively. Mom used to hide the cake from us after it was baked because we always tried to eat it, as the smell of the cake made us hungry. Rich-cake and wine are the most appetising food during the season of Christmas.
The Christmas midnight mass is a significant event for all Catholics. To celebrate Christmas, the parish priest, and the villagers clean and decorate the church with a Christmas tree, the crib, garlands, flowers, candles, and many decorations. We all get dressed up in our best and newest clothes to attend the mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. We go to the mass as a family, meet all our friends, and have a small gathering afterwards to share good old stories and the food that we prepared. The Christmas mass used to bring people together.
Then comes the biggest surprise of the season, the gifts from Santa. Before December 25th, our mom asks us to make a list of the gifts that we want from Santa and place it under the Christmas tree. Then she tells us that Santa will give us gifts based on the good things we did throughout the year. We were all very excited for this moment as kids. We rush into the Christmas tree to check for gifts as soon as you get home from midnight mass. Then we unwrap them and begin to play. Most of the time, we get toys from Santa, and we used to play with them all day, no matter what was going on in the house. It was the most valuable thing to us as children. We used to believe in Santa until we came to a certain age, where we discovered that the real Santa is our parents. As an adult, however, I still enjoy the concept of Santa.
The carols; the musical therapy during the festive season. “Long time ago…”, “Silent night …”, “Jingle Bells…”, “Namo mariyani…” …, you don’t have to be a catholic to know these songs. The carols begin to play in radio and television during the Christmas season. During this season, choirs in churches, schools, and institutes organise carol services to bring joy and happiness to the people through music. In early days, children in villages formed small friend groups and went to neighboring houses to sing carols. To show their appreciation, these houses used to give something to the children. These brought people together in peace, joy, and harmony.
These are some of the most beautiful memories I have from this holiday season. Aside from the rituals associated with the holiday season, we used to watch movies on television. The Christmas movies that used to air on television also gave us a festive feeling. This is no longer the case. People have lost time doing all of these things due to their hectic schedules. Even though we celebrate Christmas, the joy, peace, unity, and harmony that existed in the past are no longer present. We still do some of these things, but not all of them due to the the country's current situation.
Christmas is all about love, unity, joy, peace, and harmony. Let us try to spread these among us during this festive season. I wish a Merry Christmas to all of you! Hope you enjoy the Christmas season with the ones you love with good health, love, abundance and everlasting joy in your life.