Of Festive Musings

It’s here

It’s finally here

Like it has, the year before

And every other year before that

And as they say, ‘It is the most wonderful time of the year’.

Well, give or take a little bit, I guess.

 

Those of you who know me well, might already know this. I love December. I love the Winter. And most of all, this lovely little week that snuggles comfortably between Christmas and New Years – I love that too.  And, as I’m sitting here drinking some mulled wine, biting into some home-baked Pizza in a climate that is slightly below ‘toasty’ and watching a re-run of ‘Love Actually’ on television (for the umpteenth time!), I’m feeling nostalgic.

 

I’ve often wondered why I have such an affinity towards this seasonal holiday period. And no, it wasn’t a religious inclination. In fact, after years of pondering (and permutations & combinations that would make my High School Math teacher so proud!), I narrowed it down to one thing. Since I was an only child who did not have any cousins around for the hols, I spent most of my childhood Christmas holidays watching English movies that would release on VHS (yes, remember VHS? Good days!) – ones that coincidentally fell under the genre of Holiday movies (essentially the movies that would lift your spirit and always had happy endings; well, almost always)

 

So partially ‘brainwashed’ by these movies (and lots of Enid Blyton books –  she is still one of my favourite authors), I started to imagine myself celebrating Christmas. Yes, with the entire package – the decorated tree with plenty of gifts underneath, a fresh white blanket of snow outside, carols being sung  somewhere in the background, eggnog in one hand and cookies in the other and eyes rife with the expectation that Santa would drop down the chimney to give me all the gifts that I would want.

 

Of course, none of this happened. But, we are often the most optimistic during our childhood. So despite being upset, we still continue to hope. That maybe, next year, Santa won’t forget us.  As we grow older, the optimism slowly gets crushed by this Incredible Hulk like character called ‘reality’. He roars and bellows (and even tears off his clothes sometimes) and tells us what he calls ‘The Ugly Truth’ – that Santa doesn’t exist; that Christmas is just a festival – just like many others we have; and the most important one of them all, that any gifts we got were courtesy our parents. Since I got none, I was livid when Mr.Hulk grunted all this in my ear. ‘How dare they!’ I thought, while I looked up at the inky black sky waiting to hear those little whistling bells of Santa’s reindeer driven sleigh. See, I still couldn’t let that image go.

 

Fast forward a few years later,

 

I ended up in London. Magnificent, majestic and beautiful London. A place that I knew so little about, but would soon replace whatever visions I had of the word Home. During my first year in London, I was so excited about Christmas; because those little brainwashed images were started to creep back in. So late- November, when the decorations started to go up and the large Christmas tree appeared on campus , I was over the moon. Of course, the fact that my lovely wife (then unmarried partner) was also with me, added to the excitement. I was perhaps, the only person on campus who could often be seen walking around in the middle of the night, enjoying the below freezing cold and still smiling. And of course, it snowed. (not as much as I’d like, but hey, beats sandstorms)

 

It was my first ‘real’ Christmas, and though I didn’t get a gift, I still loved it. In fact, I was ecstatic that the evil Hulk of reality could no longer mess with my head. Everything was as perfect as a I had imagined it to be.

 

But then, as with everything, the rosiness of it all started to slowly  disappear.

 

For the remaining seven years that I called London home, I slowly slipped through the crevices and became one of them; a sort of semi-grinch who was forever murmuring. Okay, not throughout. The murmuring was purely seasonal, especially a bit more towards this ‘festive period’ that started in November and culminated in the New Year. And I wasn’t alone. Along with millions of other Londoners and people across Britain, we collectively murmured about a number of things.

 

We murmured in November when all across Britain, the retail stores started playing those discs of Christmas music over and over again, till it was etched in our memory. It was fun initially, because it helped us start the countdown to the big day. It made the staff in the stores a little less grumpier (I’ve worked as one of them) and the shopping experience a lot better. The only glitch was that it appeared as if every store that we visited had the same disc in an infinite loop.

 

The murmuring reached a slightly higher note in late-November when everyone across North America was celebrating Thanksgiving and then Black Friday. Not because we wanted to feel thankful about things. But because we did not have the holiday. And then of course, because we did not have the Black Friday deals, which would have so helped with our Christmas shopping.

 

In December, we murmured about the biting cold winds, the sunny yet chilly mornings, the insanely freezing nights and the “adverse weather disrupting the trains and buses” messages from the Transport for London (TFL). Not to mention about having to travel to work in the cold and on ice-rink like roads.

 

As we gradually moved into mid-December, the murmuring slowly gave way to a sort of complaining. Some of these ‘complaints’ would be about:

 

  • Costa and Starbucks taking advantage of the winter and increasing the prices of our favourite lattes and cappuccinos. But then we loved the festive cups and couldn’t do without our shots of hot drinks. So we bought them anyway.

 

  •  The late sunrises and early sunsets, the fact that it was dark when we both started and finished work and how this made us feel like we had no sunshine at all

 

  •  The Christmas lights and how they were just a marketing sham into making us “feel good” about spending more money; which then led us to think about how much shopping we had left to do for Christmas and how little time we had

 

  • How those charity sales people on the street heckled us as we rushed to finish our Christmas shopping. But then, we also complained about the world being insensitive when we saw that Christmas special documentary about how many people across Britain did not have a home to go to or warm food to eat

 

 

  • How much we wanted a White Christmas, but at the first sign of that tiny little snow flake we were ready to huddle back inside by the heater or the fireplace, away from the whiteness of it all

 

  • How we were ‘coerced’ in to spend a lot of money on Boxing Day, buying stuff that we did not need or did not fit into. But we bought it anyway because it was on offer.

 

  • How unfair it was when New Year’s day fell on a weekend, and how the Government owed us another extra day of holiday

 

  • And of course, finally when we all huffed and puffed in January, we’d complain about putting on those extra pounds from all the drinking, eating and merry-making.

 

But today, as I sit in a much warmer place by comparison and think of the countdown to Santa’s big visit, I can’t help but miss everything that we complained about then.

 

I miss the cheery atmosphere.

I miss the frost on my window panes.

I miss the festive decorations around town.

I miss the Christmas carols and the carol singers outside the door. 

I miss the pulling of those paper Christmas crackers laden with the most obnoxious gifts.

I miss the delight of the annual office Christmas parties and the kick of a glass of warm mulled wine, that warms you right up on those frosty nights.

And much more.

 

The more I think about it, the more I realise that for me, Christmas is not about the celebration of a day. 

 

To me, it is about enjoying the run up to the big day; it’s about the frenzy of finding the right present for your loves ones; it’s about the wrapping of the gifts as inconspicuously as possible; it’s about donating warm clothes to the less fortunate; it’s about enjoying the numerous cups of eggnogs, plates of gingerbread cookies and glasses of mulled wine; it’s about smiling at one another and spreading the cheer; it’s about being with your loved ones. It’s also about being a Santa to someone; and retaining that glee-filled smile when you get your gifts.

 

And of course, it’s about less complaining and being thankful for all that we have.

And yes, I still believe in Santa and the spirit of this holiday season. It makes me smile and keeps alive, that little child in me.

 

Seasons Greetings all and may all your wishes come true !

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42 Comments

  1. You believe in Santa? Wait, you are NOT Santa? Damn! Here I was telling people I know Santa personally 😀

    Festivals do two things to me. Bring good memories or the bad ones. Sadly I can’t control what comes in first. But I make the best of whatever comes and smile through it.

    Wishing you a very happy new year Sid! Lots of love, wishes and good luck to you and your family!
    Soumya recently put up this awesome post : Action Replay – 2015My Profile

    1. Shhh…that’s our little secret.
      I am Santa to some people 🙂
      I’m glad you make the most of every good memory you have. Wish you a very happy 2016 too, Soums! We must meet soon 🙂
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : If only….My Profile

  2. This is my favorite time of the year too, and no, not for religious reasons. Actually, we share a lot of the same reasons.

    As a kid, I believed in Santa, in-spite of not getting any gifts (we really were such an optimistic bunch!).

    I can say ditto to what you wrote about your experience in London, except that I am in US, and we do have Black Friday – the time of the year when we officially grumble about spending too much money on things we shouldn’t be spending any money on. 🙂

    Wishing you and your family a very happy and prosperous 2016, Sid. Much love to Rishi.
    Shantala recently put up this awesome post : On Reading Goals – 3 things to keep in mind while setting reading goals.My Profile

  3. Every festival brings out the sentimental person in me, for various reasons and different memories , of course. I like the image you’ve painted here of the stark difference between what we want and how we respond when we get it. I think that’s true of life too, to some extent. Happy holidays Sid and a warm New Year to you and yours.
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  4. I totally agree with you when you say, Christmas is more about enjoying the run-up to the big day. Even I grew up with a similar picture of Christmas as a kid (thanks to the ‘feel good’ movies) and I am still waiting for that day when I can experience a white Christmas…till then I am celebrating it with a tree, good food which include plum cakes and gifts for my loved ones. And yes, Christmas is definitely not the celebration of a day….but the spirit of being thankful, giving & sharing and the joy it brings along 🙂
    dreamzandclouds recently put up this awesome post : Photo Friday (22) – A DelicacyMy Profile

    1. See! I knew I wasn’t the only one who had similar ideas about Christmas and all the ‘experience’.
      Thank you, Madhu. and always glad to see you here.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : If only….My Profile

  5. For me – Christmas is the season of joy – the season of giving and sharing 🙂
    Its starts soon after Halloween, when the decorations start to come up slowly everywhere.
    It’s synonymous with the cold and snow. It’s beautifully cold and white 😀

    The toy and food drives from the local charity place. Coat drives by the local news channel. 🙂

    I’ve always had joyful memories of Christmas growing up. Santa Claus, the gifts, the anticipation on Christmas morning. Handmade cards to my sister 🙂
    I love the month of December! It’s simply Joy ! 🙂
    Pixie recently put up this awesome post : Day 13: Christmas Weekend 🙂My Profile

  6. This post is so heartwarming. I mean, murmur all you want, but it’s still such an aww post. It brought back memories of so many things, most importantly Enid Blyton. The kids in her books were always munching on good stuff while it snowed outside, and I just wanted to be there, inside the book.
    Funny thing, I hate winters, and can’t stand the cold (not even the bearable kinda cold) but I have sat and prayed for snow on more than one occasion!

    1. Thanks, Sreesha. I largely blame Enid Blyton too. I still read her books when I want to escape from all this negativity around. You hate winterS? well, we are strange siblings 😊

  7. Your words created such a vivid imagery of the English Christmas. True, there’s something magical about Christmas. Though we never celebrated it at home, but it was a big thing at school and in the neighbourhood. The whole week from the Christmas to the New Year was all about celebration and good cheer! Happy Holidays to you too, Sid! May they full of warmth love and laughter! Cheers 🙂
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  8. Such a pretty picture you have painted. You must revisit it.
    It truly is a season of reflection…..all these posts are making think I should write one….I have not done a personal post for quite some time.

  9. Hey Merry Christmas Sid , to you and your family!
    Your post seems like the pin up post for – ‘How to spread cheer this festive season’
    Holiday movies , unwrapping presents , festive goodies and the cozy togetherness of your happy family .. what a mushy post that was.
    Reading about the times gone by in London with the snowflakes falling down on my screen sipping a ginger tea – I almost time travelled with you.
    Not too much into the festival but your writing seemed so inspired — its splashed a little festive cheer this side of the screen as well .
    Happy Holidays and hope you have an inspired new year!

    1. Same to you, Chandni. Haha! Well, just doing my bit to spread some cheer and happiness.
      I don’t think it’s about the festival itself; it’s more a seasonal thing and I love winters 🙂

  10. Yep, like Christmas, most festivals are about run up to the big day. Christmas in UK is indeed special. But the weather back home is just right, cold but not chilly.
    A festive post Sid. Wish you and your family a very happy new year ahead.
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  11. Life makes so much sense in hindsight. I loved living your English Christmas memories through this beautiful post.

    I’ve spent my childhood like you watching the English Holiday movies and wishing for Santa Claus to pronounce the ‘good girl’ and gift me a bagful of gifts. Though we never celebrated Christmas at home, but the festive air with neighborhood resonating the spirit of Christmas, I hold similar sentiments about the holiday season like you.

    It’s my first visit to your blog and I must say you’ll see me here often 🙂

    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays 🙂

    1. Hello ‘My Era’,
      (Love that reason for your blog name – ME)

      I’m glad you could visualise the scenes. I guess we all have these little believers inside us. Hopefully we won’t let them die that easy.

      Glad to see you here and hope you enjoy my posts.

      Will be following yours too 🙂

  12. Hi! Nice read! I think all of us have some of these romantic, rosy pictures of Christmas through various sources. Mine are from sitcoms like FRIENDS and Home Alone. And I wish I can be in New York someday at such a magical time. (Spouse just got back from NYC 2 days ago! Grrr!). But here’s my story of any holiday season – our life goes on as usual with the spouse traveling or trying to hit his month end target (this is month end time) and I am fine with that. All I wish is holidays could be an excuse for us to take some time out and get out of our routine for sometime. But we usually don’t find time to plan that too (jet lag is the reason this time). I am pretty much happy just to spend time together. What bugs me about such times is people going on and on about, “so what’s your plan?”. I shall spare you the expletives I want to shower on them. But I have decided to ignore Whatsapp and Twitter (except some scheduled content) and just get some work done in my free time in anticipation of things I want to start in the new year.

    1. I guess we all do, Suman.
      For some reason, we try and take things a little slow during this period. We may not get to do anything spectacular, but yes a Christmas and New Years in New York is on our bucket list too.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Loved reading about your English Christmas experiences! You virtually took me there! Hold on to that innocence of childhood that thrills you everytime you recieve a gift and the satisfaction of seeing the same glee when you gift someone! Happy hols! Stay blessed!

    1. Thank you, Kala. I intend to – for a long time anyway. And hopefully as long as memory helps with it.
      Happy holidays and seasons greetings 😊

  14. I love Winter and Christmas too for the exact same reasons you have mentioned here. And yes, I do have dreams of spending Christmas season in London some day for the exact same stuff mentioned here! 🙂 🙂

    And NO I will not let you or whatever anyone says take away the dreaminess of all those fantasies I have 😛

    A very Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones Sid! 🙂

    1. A very merry Christmas to you too. See, I knew I wasn’t the only one who nurtured such dreams.
      Just keep those fantasies strong. Somedays they’re what’ll help us get through the difficult times

  15. Christmas to me is cakes and chocolates. I have mixed feelings for December. But this last week is super lovely. By the way, it was on 25th December that the man officially tied the knot, I mean the Taali. Reminds me I have to make him up and wish him Second Anniversary. 😉 Merry Christmas, Sid! Give my love to J and R. 🙂
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  16. Absolutely. There is something about Christmas that makes me happy even though we hardly celebrated it at home. But celebrated at school and the whole atmosphere was festive, the new year would be round the corner everything just made me happy. Besides, how can one not like the month of their birth – good things happen in a December!
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