Sunday, 14 December 2008

Christmas and what it means to Christians like me

This Christmas in 2008 will be the first I will celebrate away from home and family. In a way it makes me appreciate this time of the year and more so my loved ones who I was always around this time of the year.

All my life until now I lived in a town called Ambernath near Mumbai in India. Ever since I can remember, Christmas was always about celebration - new clothes, gifts, decorations, the Christmas tree, carol singing and the time of the year when all was forgiven and forgotten. It was that special time of the year that I knew I needed to spend with my family. I always knew it signified the birth of Christ our saviour and we celebrated it.

I lived in a kind of joint family set up and Christmas eve was very special; everyone would put on new clothes, and it being winter the night felt extra special and the sky looked clearer. We always went for midnight mass, wished each other "Merry Christmas" and then returned home to cake, wine and chicken roast. It was our own little family tradition. I always looked forward to it. The next day we would have our joint Christmas lunch where all the family got together, cooked different meals and made the best of the Christmas spirit. It was the time of the year when you believed miracles happened.

I never questioned the little intricasies like why do we have a Christmas tree or why do we make believe in Santa Claus, or why we hide gifts under the tree.

I was at a friend's house yesterday in Melbourne, Australia and his non-Christian wife asked me the significance of the tree and Santa Claus and I paused, but I knew the answer. I told her it was a tradition that was started some centuries ago and we just keep it alive. I will miss my family this year at Christmas but I know in my heart the tradition will be kept and although I know they will miss me too, we will celebrate because it is Christmas and next year I know I will be there to take part in the tradition, exactly how we have been doing it for generations.

Saturday, 13 December 2008