Monday, December 22, 2008
Of Christmases Past
This is a little Christmas ornament given me by our librarian, Daphne. Daphne is Anglo Indian, about 70+ (she wont’ say), has to work to live and spends a large part of her salary on make-up and regular trips to the hairdresser. I guess you can’t take the well-dressed out of some ladies. A spirit I admire. Occasionally I say ’ Wow Daphne, what a great sweater / bead chain.’ In exchange for all which she bestowed this gift on me. Made with her arthritic hands.
It took me back to Christmases celebrated with great gusto in my childhood. Maybe I’m really getting old turning my thoughts backward. But I thought I'd relive it before it all escapes me.
We lived in a colony with most of the girls going to a ‘convent’. So naturally, Christmas was part of our lives. Come December, we would spend days sticking together long strings of crepe paper, cardboard Santa Clauses and whatever else we could find in the ‘things to make and do’ books .All the planning took place in the single large room upstairs in our home which was so messy that no adult came in for a couple of weeks.
A few days before Christmas, we would stand up a pathetic looking branch of a fir tree from our neighbor’s garden on our verandah in a bucket of sand and transform it into this glamorous tree with cotton snow, lights and all our carefully made ornaments. A star was mandatory.
Then we would rehearse for the Christmas programme. All adults had to pay to come and see this variety entertainment. Everybody brought in ideas from whatever had been done recently in their schools and this was their chance to take the lead part after being shunted away in school. Of course the pecking order was dominant and the younger ones got to play the strong silent roles like baby jesus, or the angels or the donkeys in the manger. The elder ones got the singing roles – no matter how badly we sang.
I don’t think any religious significance entered our heads even for a minute. Or the parents’. They were just happy to keep us out of mischief and boredom. A wonderful way of spending holidays.