Christmas is a time for love and understanding, peace and harmony. It is the time for joy and togetherness!!!Or so the books keep telling us. Radical changes that this world has experienced are quite a few and in the midst of this festive season, another radical change is evident. I remember growing up, craving for December. Decorating the house with the family, making sweets together and waiting for Christmas morning to open the gifts and get ourselves ready for family lunches and dinners. Oh, the thrill!! Having a secret Santa meant praying for the person right through the month and only on Christmas day hand over a small token of love. In times not so long ago, the celebrations of this joyous festival revolved around the togetherness that family would provide. Suffice to say that family is not at the centre of this season anymore.
The festive season, like so much else is losing its charm. The nippy chill in the air used to signal the advent of Christmas, now it signals online shopping for the latest winterwear and the mad rush to secure the perfect plans for a night or day of frivolity. I remember those lovely little heart felt gifts under the tree and how much joy the smallest of trinkets would bring. Today, shopping giants Amazon and Flipkart make it a point much in advance to rub in our faces that if we want to show love we need their help to ensure that only the most expensive gadgets find their way under our trees. The commercial tag that the holidays now carry is way too heavy for many a pocket to be able to afford. Beyond the gifts, there is the amount we shell out on the readymade sweets, the decorations that have to be bought from the expensive stores, the food that has to be made from the finest produce and clothes that need to cost its weight in gold, especially since the more spent now equals the more revealed. The spirit of the season now literally means ‘spirit’ of alcohol as every youngster reaches out for the chemically induced one rather than the spirit of happiness that just being around people you love brings.
Gone are the days when a mid-night mass was a solemn way to welcome in the new-born baby Jesus, now those same mid-night masses have turned into a transitional hour between not doing much to the nightclub. Since the people are getting themselves ready for said nightclub, the attire also matches the post mass plan. So, midnight mass is now a fashion parade where everyone looks at everyone else and whispers behind their hand to the person sitting next to them. Here is where we speak of the most important change we see. The fact that Christ has been completely scratched out of Christmas. Off late, the word Christmas has been dropped from a number of countries. In the United States, they call it ‘The Holidays’. I’m not saying that everyone needs to celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but why allow ourselves to dilute what it means to us as Christians. We seem to have turned into a generation that takes pride in saying ‘I’m atheist’. Religion has become ‘uncool’ and Santa Clause has become the hero of Christmas. True, little children would find a happy man in red, handing out gifts more appealing than a little baby born in a stable but that is again up to the parents.
Now, when we look at the state of the world, everything seems to slowly make sense. Some of the most treasured traditions, that made this country great, was that we staunchly believed in our religions and that our families were our everything. What happens when we rip out the glue that held it all together? we get the world we have created. Money is now the God we seek and luxury our family. Many of us refuse to believe that that’s the path we are on currently, but it is the sad truth. When I asked some of my young students what their understanding of Christmas was, all I got was ‘gifts’, some did say spending time with our family, but they were the younger kids who are still not allowed to go out ‘partying’ on their own. It’s also around the festivities that the roads in Goa see the most accidents. People dashing through the roads from one party to another driving under the influence of alcohol is a common sight. Being careful and allowing yourself to think about how your actions would affect another, this small thought actually encompasses the meaning of Christmas. The concern that goes beyond ourselves, the caring and sharing, all of it embodies what the season is supposed to mean.
Yes, times are changing and we do have to move with them. Sure, we have reached a period where blood relatives are not the only family we have and it is all good to make merry and have fun during this season, but if each one of us resolve to make even a tiny donation to those in need, we could make a world of difference. There are thousands around us who have nothing and are suffering from so much. In a population that is exploding at its seams, if each one of us make a small sacrifice and give to another, imagine the wave of change that would take place. It’s the small sacrifices and the tiny gestures that could win back the spirit of Christmas. Not in the name of a religion but just in the name of humanity. So sure, today, we can allow ourselves the luxuries that life would afford but keeping humanity alive in the small things we do is where we can find again, the true meaning of the season. Compliments of the season to all the Neutral view readers and have a wonderful year ahead.