It all started one blue night in late November. My roommate was out for the night and I was alone; in a Christmas mood and hunting new Christmas songs to download. (Yes, I'm a pirate. Notoriously so!). But I ended up being disappointed. Well, almost every album I downloaded has songs like 'All I want for Christmas' (though I'm partial towards the the Michael Buble version), Frosty The snowman, Santa Claus, Winter wonderland, White Christmas and Blue Christmas (and whatnot colored Christmases) blah blah blah!
Then a friend of mine (a very good singer) told me to try his favorite Christmas song - 'Tennessee Christmas' where the lyrics go something like
Another tender Tennessee Christmas, the only Christmas for me
Where the love circles around us like the gifts around our tree
Well I know there's more snow up in Colorado than my roof will ever see
But a tender Tennessee Christmas is the only Christmas for me
(Yes. I googled the lyrics)
I went from being disappointed to confused. My first problem is that I've never been to Tennessee (or any other place mentioned in the song), and I can't fall in love with a song where the lyrics are so foreign and removed from my psyche. C'mon, I've never even seen snow yet, to even decide if I would at all love a 'winter wonderland'. (Though I strongly doubt it, my knees already sing every Delhi winter morning.)
Then my ultimate frustration blew last Monday when the auto that I rode on stopped on a red light. A street vendor came up to me carrying a Santa Claus mask and while coaxing me to buy it, said "Madamji, le lo! Aapke Prabhu hein!" (Take it. It's your god!)
I'm against Santa Claus. I always have been. I don't blame myself especially after my incident at a certain red light in South Delhi. I grew up in a household where my parents also take care of cousins three times the number of our siblings. Christmas time is always a headache for the earning members of the family. And there was no place (or the finance) to fool us kids with the 'Krismas Putar' story. I consider myself lucky now. Compared to some of my friends who grew up otherwise, Santa Claus never had a place in my heart. (Goodness Gracious, I sound like a Scrooge!) Maybe it's because I felt that Mr. Claus stole all the attention from the King born for the world, especially in the hearts of children.
A week ago while googling for the Christmas songs, I told my roommate, a Buddhist, how disappointing it is for me when all these songs talk more about the weather and the decorations and Santa Claus rather than Christ and the gospel. That very same evening, while having dinner at a friend's place, a much older friend, a church leader expressed the very same sentiments that I had the whole week long. He quickly added "I must be getting old. I'm so narrow minded". I laughed because he is one of the most broad-minded church leaders I've ever come across.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not exactly Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes but I've been very particular about the core of Christmas. Yes, Christ Himself. And I feel that all these chart-toppers are a little bit too far off. If I look for a Christmas song, I want something which soothes not only my auditory senses but even my spiritual senses (Am I making sense at all?).
A week ago, I went for an Advance Christmas Celebration with some friends. The service was good, the programme entertaining and the food delicious. But after, a few of us decided we'll join a group of old ladies singing together in one of their homes. We ended up singing and praying the whole night.
The next morning, on our way back to campus, I realized I hunted for the Christmas songs that I wanted in the wrong place. The Christmas spirit that I so longed for was not in the chart-topping music or in the decorations and tinsel town.
The Christmas spirit I longed for has always been in the heart of worship.
So here's to wishing you 'heartfuls' of the true Christmas Spirit every single day!
(And I stay away from a picture of a Christmas wreath or of colors red and green. :) )