Recently, a friend of mine who moved to Australia a few years ago wrote to me and told me that she still can't get used to Christmas in Australia because it's falls in peak summer over there. I read her mail while bundled up in an electric blanket while an old wool cap itched my forehead but I couldn't help but being thankful for the cold Delhi evening because the dipping temperature makes it even more festive for me. Unlike my friend, I have never spent a warm Christmas in my life yet despite all my cold Christmases, I've never spend a snowy Christmas either.
It will be my fifth Christmas away from home and my third consecutive Christmas here in Delhi. Until a few days back, I didn't long for home. But since last night, I have been very very homesick. Though I didn't want to admit it, there's a tiny voice in the back of my head screaming at me, telling me that I should have fought to be back home this time around.
What is it with Christmas that always makes you long for the things you don't have??
When I was six, my uncle passed away in an accident. My mom and my uncle were the closest among their siblings and it was my mom who supported my uncle through engineering college. My uncle's demise left my mother so shattered that she couldn't even sit for her Master's finals. I learnt, years later, that was something she wished she could have braved through. The last thing my mother told me before she passed away was not to let grieve get the best of me. The Christmas after my uncle passed away was the saddest Christmas for my family especially for my mom. I remembered hearing her cry on Christmas morning and I remembered us visiting my uncle's grave soon after Christmas service got over.
The most painful Christmas I've ever spent was the first Christmas without Ma. Since my mom and I were the only two females in the family, all the festive decorations and the cooking usually fell into our hands. That Christmas, I remembered decorating our tree, hanging the silver bells that my mom and I picked carefully from the stores just a year ago. If anything was difficult that Christmas, it was hanging a silver bell without bursting into tears. Even a single red ribbon held too much memory. I remembered sitting by her grave that Christmas Eve, wondering if she'll like the flowers I brought for her. I remembered asking silently 'I didn't let grieve get the best of me, Did I, Nu?' while I helped with the Christmas Church Feast that year.
That was 8 years ago, but even tonight, here I am in the wee hours of the morning, punching this line with a lump in my throat because I long for the mother I no longer have. Why is it that this pain always gets magnified when Christmas draws near? I wonder if it is the same for anyone else!
I've told myself many Christmases ago, that I should be thankful for the things I have and cherish the memories of the loved ones no longer with me. I tell myself that, every single Christmas for the past 7 years. I'll tell myself that very same thing tonight too!
This Christmas, take time to cherish the memories, take time to remember them, relive the moments in your head. Take time to remember her face, her smile, her voice, her laughter. Take time to remember how she called your name or how her hands felt on your hair. It's OK to shed tears and laugh through the funny memories in your head. But, take time to thank God for those memories. Take time to be thankful for having the experience of receiving a mother's love for 18 years of your life.
Take time to be thankful for what you have. Take time to thank God for your family. Take time to thank God for taking you this far. Take time to thank God for the things you usually take for granted.
But most importantly, take time to look inside to see what Christmas is all about.
Take time to remember that Christmas is not all about you, your pain and your loneliness. Christmas is, but, about the Gift of Life that has been given to you. Take time to be thankful for and rejoice in the Ultimate Gift!
For if you spend Christmas without the Ultimate Gift, Christmas would just be another cold and lonely day in December.
Merry Christmas one and all!! May you spend Christmas with the Ultimate Gift!