'tis the Season to Be Jolly

Gesly Susan   |   December 15, 2014 


It's that marvelous time of the year again!

Having recently moved to Canada, Christmas has never felt this “Christmassy” before. Everything around me looks like a snapshot right out of Hallmark Christmas Greeting Card. In place of Styrofoam snowflake cut outs and 4 foot plastic Christmas trees, there are snow laden roof tops lined with splendidly lit up evergreens. Christmas treats are not just fruit cakes and wine but a whole array of sugar cookies, candy canes, eggnog and hot chocolate or even better, eggnog-hot chocolate and candy cane sprinkled sugar cookies!

Just walking around the mall with Christmas carols in the background, while going through each store’s red-white and green themed displays is a joy in itself. Even these sub zero temperatures with no promise of sunshine cannot dampen the general sense of cheer and excitement that this time of the year brings. There is no escaping it and I am at bliss with its enchantment. However, growing up in a home with a slightly more conservative and guarded approach to the holidays, my earlier Christmases were void of this kind of excitement.

In our home, I remember my grandparents insisted on preserving the sanctity and sacredness of the birth of Jesus, so anything else that would even slightly dilute its solemnity was forbidden. This included ornamental trees, any sort of reindeer songs and specifically Mr Santa himself. Our Christmas morning ritual was the reading of the story of the birth of Jesus from the gospel of Matthew and then going about the rest of the day enjoying our day off from school.

In one sense we observed Christmas rather than celebrate it, but I longed for something a little more. As a kid I would watch all those holiday movies and be awe of how beautiful everything looked around this time of the year. As life would have it, two decades or so later here I am enjoying my very first white Christmas and I sure am loving it. It’s all that I had imagined and even more.

However, amongst all the merriment and cheer that undeniably hovers around this season, you also feel an air of anxiety as people talk about their holiday plans and their endless list of things to do. Now for most of us from the eastern side of the world, “holiday stress” sounds like an oxymoron. But this is a yearly reality on this side of the world.

Come November and the mothers and wives of every household roll up their sleeves and get down to preparing for the holidays and long for the end of the season and the stress. Ticket prices have to be monitored weeks (if not months) ahead and bookings have to be made for that family vacation; online deals for that tight gift budget need to be scoured; and the outfits for children need to be coordinated to get that perfect Christmas family portrait.  All this and much more needs to be done, all the while dreading next month's credit card bill.

Sometimes the season becomes so much about stuff or even getting things done that we forget the one and only thing my grandparents told me Christmas was about-- the birth of Jesus Christ.

Imagine after much effort and toil, you throw the perfect birthday party-- the food, the decor, the music, the guest list and everything done perfectly, well except for the fact that you forgot to invite the birthday boy/girl to the party. Sure the guests would still have a great time and you would get endless compliments on how splendid everything was, but you kind of missed the point all together.

So while I am enjoying celebrating Christmas on this side of the world, I want to be sure to remember, at the risk of sounding clichéd, the reason for the season. That reason being the only Son of God humbling Himself to be born a babe! That is all the more reason for one to celebrate!

This Christmas, whether in India or abroad, let the happiness of that warm cup of hot chocolate or that perfect Christmas gift come only a distant second to the joy of knowing Christ was born to die for us! And I hope I can keep that perspective all throughout the year to come.

Are you celebrating Christmas far from home this year? How does it look different for you?

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Gesly Susan

Having moved from city to city and country to country in her growing up years, Gesly recently moved to Canada making it her new home. Having a background in social work, she enjoys working with children with special needs, traveling, writing, deep conversations and music.

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