Here I am, on Christmas eve, sitting 600 kms from home, surrounded by food, books and gadgets, tweeting my way into the night, the CNET article I just read ‘For all those alone with a gadget this XMas’ fresh in my mind like the hot coffee in my mug on my bedside table. And all I can think of is last Christmas…
I am a Hindu by birth, but there is something about being Goan (maybe) that makes Christmas a tradition. I don’t go to the church or out for the dance but there is something in the air that makes me very happy. As if there is music playing that only I can hear; couples dancing to Celine Dion’s Power of Love in snow that only I can see. I’m always surrounded by family and friends and it even makes my phone and laptop lonely. Maybe it’s all the weddings, random ceremonies, birthdays and anniversaries(consequently) whose density increases around this time of the year. Maybe it’s the holidays.
So last Christmas, at exactly the same time, I was playing with my one year old niece at her grandparents’ wedding anniversary celebration. It was a quiet dinner with very few guests and a couple of jokes thrown in here and there. At around 1 am we left for home. As we entered the interiors of Margao, the streets were crowded and there was considerable traffic as if it was 6 or 7 in the evening in an otherwise ‘susegado’ town that sleeps before 10. There was a crisp cheerfulness to the breeze that blew, a different kind of peace.
We visited a couple of Catholic friends in the morning who made sure I didn’t have place in my tummy for lunch (who can resist Christmas yummies?). And then after a refreshing afternoon siesta and visiting a few more Catholic friends, we went for our annual ‘crib’ or nativity scene tour.
Every year, as far as my memory goes, my dad takes me and my brother to see the nativity scenes in Margao and the surrounding villages. There are contests with cash prizes of tens of thousands of Rupees for the best one. There are scenes with waterfalls, real sand and grass, lighting- but nothing beats the ones you can actually walk into and around and observe. Most of the times, you have to actually line up to see the birth place of baby Jesus. It’s exactly the same scene, year after year, but there is always a new excitement to it every year, an innovation to look forward to.
And just like every year, that Christmas ended on the same blissful note too. The simple celebrations continued until New Year’s eve when we had our big annual party at a beach side shack. And like every year, I wondered where the time went and hoped it would hurry up and come again soon!
Now here I am, five Ferrero Rochers down, thinking how different life has really become. It wasn’t the lights, the food, the Christmas carols or the holidays. It was family and home. And I realised no matter where I was in the world, no matter how much money or power I had, no matter how many parties and brunches I went to- Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without family and Goa.
So I have advanced my trip home and I’m hoping to catch some of the celebrations before they fizzle out for another year. Oh and I’m going to a fancy, expensive brunch tomorrow and I’m definitely taking my Santa hat for an extra effect.
It’s midnight. Merry Christmas!