Ghosts of Christmas past   1 comment


















If Charles Dickens were to rewrite ‘A Christmas Carol’ today, there’d certainly be a lot of changes. Scrooge would just be a grumpy person who detests the hustle and bustle that the holiday season brings with it, and would rather not waste money on air tickets or unnecessary gift buying. 

He would probably have his dream with ghosts as part of his virtual life on a farm.  But, of course, as with all happy stories, if the Grinch could have a change of heart, so can Scrooge.  And Tiny Tim would probably update his status on his new touch-screen phone with “God bless us everyone”.

The Ghost of Christmas Past, for instance, would probably be somebody who looked like Professor Dumbledore from Hogwarts.  Not foreboding or scary, but pleasant and kindly, who reminded us of Christmases gone by with carol singing and music all the days running up to Christmas day. Christmas holidays always began at least a fortnight before Christmas day itself. The holiday season brought with it much anticipation and joy — plans had to be made and gifts had to be bought.  Train tickets home had to be booked a month in advance, so one always knew where Christmas Eve dinner would be.

Gifts had to be bought for everybody who would be in the house, and some more for those who would probably be visiting.  Of course, the feeling of getting off a train to a carload-full of cousins and family all waiting at the station just for single you is something that can never be replicated in any lifetime.

The days would be packed — the tree had to be decorated and cake had to be baked.  Everybody had to take part in some form of decoration or cooking, and nobody was ever allowed to lie around the house doing nothing.  Christmas trees used to be real trees that were left in various shapes after being trimmed by everybody tall enough and old enough to try their hand at it. Cards had to be bought and sent out early so that they reached on time and not after Christmas, and everybody had to sign their name personally even on the cards they didn’t really want to be sending.

There was always the Carol Service at church followed with midnight mass or the Christmas day service and carol singers visiting the house every day.  The house always smelled of stuffed turkey roasting in the oven, the evening preceding Christmas Eve dinner, even as everybody clamoured for that last bit of gift-wrapping paper and the last piece of cellotape.

Christmas morning was always a race for who would wake up the earliest to start opening gifts.  Gifts were simple and very personal, a paintbox, a handmade photo-frame, even a knitted sweater in some rather outrageous colours.  More than anything, none of the gifts cost a fortune or were things that had been demanded of parents.

Doordarshan soon began to broadcast Christmas mass with the Pope, live from the Vatican, and that was about as much television that anybody ever bothered with then.  Christmas lunch always meant a large lunch that left everybody in a strange state of food-induced paralysis literally unable to get out of dining table chairs.

The Ghost of Christmas Present —  probably Kanye West in a neon pink suit; fun, enjoyable, a little in-your-face, but nonetheless a very interesting prospect.  Christmas today is not everything that it used to be, just as entertaining and delightful, but things have changed a fair amount.  Christmas holidays are sometimes a rushed mandatory weekend instead of a long drawn out affair.  Families tend to find it harder to get together today, and Christmas is now often reduced to just immediate family and not the houseful of family and friends that it used to be.

However, there are always some things intelligent that we as a human race do to survive. Trees are fake, especially when you look at dwindling forests around the world.  LED lights, that use a lot less electricity, are strung up on shops and homes.  Strains of Christmas carols waft through the doorways of stores and shopping malls, and there are still church choirs who do visit homes singing.  Christmas greetings no longer require long lists and numbers, they no longer need to be posted at least a fortnight ahead — a simple ‘status update’ on a social networking site could do the job.  Forget saving for tickets to get home, it would make sense to save for those gifts instead.  Socks and aftershave are not necessarily synonymous with good gifts anymore.

The latest e-reader or gaming console would probably be a whole lot more appreciated.  Although ordering gifts a month ahead online is sometimes depressing, especially on days when it feels like the rupee just can’t fall any lower.  Christmas Eve dinner is best spent at a restaurant to save the struggle of having to cook the whole meal and do all the washing up alone.  Christmas day is usually spent in a quick rush to get that flight back by the end of the day, to be at work the next day.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come — The eternal Rajnikanth.  No matter how much we advance technologically or deal with inflation and global warming, there’s nothing that can dull the spirit of Christmas.  If anything, like all things Rajnikanth, things could only get better as each year goes by.  Maybe we could pick up the phone, which we always use to stay online, and use it for what it was invented in the first place.

A phone call to a loved one who has mattered to us all our lives, but we never find the time to call. A handwritten Christmas card to that grand-aunt who still takes the effort to send birthday cards to people well past their third decade of life on earth.  Organising a family get-together with cousins after ages might seem a daunting task at first, but would give our children some memories like we have.

But to all good cheer, it’s not about I or me, it’s about us and everyone.  Spending more on shopping and travel is only going to help the GDP, and if that isn’t reason enough, the sheer joy of giving is worth it.  It’s time to reflect and be thankful for what we have been blessed with and a time to reconnect with loved ones.

The stress of daily living doesn’t need to take its toll on the magic that comes with the holiday season; it would help if we took some time to spread some magic and goodwill of our own.  Begin with small things, just smiling at a stranger on the street for starters and wishing him a Merry Christmas.  Christmas means everything that is hopeful and bright.

Christmas still holds all that sparkle and promise.  The clue is to just keep looking at the right places.  As Gladys Tabor said in the ‘Still Cove Journal’, “today’s Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.”


Posted December 24, 2011 by avinash2060 in Current Affairs

One response to “Ghosts of Christmas past

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