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Believe It Or Not: Santa Claus Is Here

Believe It Or Not: Santa Claus Is Here

Santa Claus

It matters little whether Santa Claus is real or fake. So long as we hope and rejoice, the Christmas spirit lives on says Manjulaa Shirodkar

As a Hindu child who studied throughout in a convent school, my earliest memories of Christmas are of donning my school uniform on a chilly Delhi winter morning, looking forward to reaching the school as quickly as the school-bus would permit, running to the chapel, hurriedly praying from the pew in that quiet little corner and running back out to participate in annual school function which revolved around Christmas carols, a crib, fellow classmates playing Three Wise Men, Mother Mary and Joseph, with a doll substituting for baby Jesus.

With no classes to be held at all that day and winter vacations coming up soon after, the whole atmosphere was festive and cheerful with all of us lustily joining in rendering of carols like Santa Claus is coming to town; Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer and We wish you a Merry Christmas and so many more.

Even Silent Night – one of my personal favourites, did not seem out of place sung in broad daylight! And never mind too that somehow, despite days and days of practice, some of us remained out of tune… but the joy lay in the rendition. Not being ‘in sync’ was really a technicality.

But the best part of all would be the goodies distribution soon after, ranging from potato chips, sticky chips, cold drinks – could be Fanta, Coke or Thums Up and maybe a ‘Veg Patties’ depending on the school’s budget that year. That, and the excited discussions around the ‘plans’ for the upcoming holidays.

Those days hardly any of us were taken out by our parents to exotic places or trips worth millions. Once we rejoined school in the New Year, memories would best comprise ‘I went to grandma’s house’ or ‘I stayed at home and finished my school homework.’ Hardly anyone admitted to whiling away precious life moments.

Christmas tree at home

But beyond all that as one grew up, left school and nostalgically looked back at those times, the urge to bring back Santa and his reindeer for new members of the family – in my case my siblings’ children was what filled my days. Preparations began in earnest around mid-December as a makeshift Christmas tree was lugged in and set up, toys and gifts were bought on the sly and hidden away from tiny, peering eyes and curious questions.

And we solemnly convinced the next generation of a Santa Claus who would visit on Christmas eve, all the way from North Pole and fill those stockings up at night with goodies, gifts, cakes, chocolates and a very special present to mark the ‘I-have-been-good-all-year’ sentiment.

The only place we got stuck at was at the question: ‘But we don’t have a chimney. How will Santa enter our house which is going to be locked up for the night?’ I hemmed, hawed and then lied shamelessly, ‘We’re leaving a space open in the living room window. Don’t worry, he will manage. He is Santa. He always manages.’ I didn’t really care if Santa knew the quandary he was being squeezed into!

And then came the night before the big day… and help was enlisted in the form of the kids’ teenage playmate and nanny who was roped in to gift wrap, fill up the stockings with toffees and cup-cakes, lay the gifts around the tree and put up all those sparkling lights and baubles around the room.

Coming from backwaters of West Bengal and one for whom Christmas was not even an occasion let alone a festival to go ‘nutty’ and ‘Carol-ly’over Sudeshna’s anxiety stemmed from worrying about the mess-to-be-cleaned up next morning.

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And when she helped the two kids, four and 6-year-old respectively, to sleep on Christmas Eve long after their mom, dad and maasi had said good night, she let Santa out of the bag – as it were. She told them that all their goodies had been bought locally. From the baubles to buntings to the gifts. All had been purchased from Uncleji’s shop in the local market. There lay our carefully constructed secrets of Santa Claus in ruins.

And next morning we were given a surprise over our morning cuppa. The kids told us that there was no such thing as Santa! Sudeshna, I think, was spared a spanking purely because it was Christmas. She in her naiveté had deconstructed Christmas – literally.

But the following year we went back to celebrating our Christmas with a bang, this time with more excited kids in tow. The point of the story being that Santa – make believe or real is someone we peg our hopes on each year. We look forward to living upto our resolutions and being on our best behaviour to get the best possible present at the end of it all.

Santa brings joy, happiness and cheer. So it matters very little whether he is there or not in actuality. So long as we hope and we rejoice, the Christmas spirit lives on – in stories of Santa, sweet Jesus and more. And that’s all that matters in the end. So keep the smiles, buy that red and white stocking, remember to hang it up on a tree branch and wait for Santa to come. He always does.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!!

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