I was taught the Christmas carol, ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’, in junior school. This time of the year – Christmas – was full of happiness and laughter. Many memories are still fresh in my mind – our annual school festival, the winter vacation that followed, visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral and the lovely aroma of freshly baked Christmas cakes everywhere, especially in New Market, the oldest market in my city, Kolkata and my dearest till date. The city used to be adorned with beautiful lights, much like in the present years, only without the extravagant pomp. Christmas trees, small or large, graced the homes of many Calcuttans. Archies and Hallmark Card Galleries flooded with people buying pretty holiday cards for teachers, friends, lovers, spouses, children and neighbors. That was a fun-filled time and I always looked forward to the warmth of Christmas.
During the years when I grew up, from a little skinny fuzzy headed kid to a fluffy, fuzzy headed adult, I gradually realized that Christmas is and never was and perhaps never will be a happy time for all, as it was for me. There are not-so-well-to-do parents who feel pressurized at the thoughts of getting gifts for their children; there are orphans who long for the company of their parents on Christmas and there are countless homeless people, lying somewhere cold and hungry and wondering where the Christmas Angel is or where their savior can be found. Though such thoughts make me sad and though most of the greeting card shops have vanished gradually over the years, Christmas for me, was and will always be joyous. Every year, I feel a tug of nostalgia at my heart – nostalgic strings tied deep into many years gone by. Christmas is a happy time for me, as it fills me with a certain childlike glee and I feel like a little kid again. I pray for all those who have not been blessed so and hope some of my happiness and the glow of candles that light up the churches will be passed on to them by the good angels of love and care.
Christmas is closely followed by New Year. Every New Year brings with it, its own share of happiness and unhappiness. For most of us, a year is anything but a completely happy one. There will always be problems with studies, jobs or relationships; some of our extremely loved ones will perhaps go away forever; there will be struggle, loneliness, illness and a lot of sadness to be dealt with. Add to all these, the natural calamities and political disturbances that are beyond our control. Yet, I do not want to lose hope. No one should lose hope as the new calendar year begins. Every religious belief and philosopher advise us to be positive and look forward, gaining strength from all the bad that has happened in life, taking one little step at a time toward the silver lining that might be seen someday. There is no harm in being positive for one day amidst all the negativities gnawing at us from all directions. So I smile today against all odds and wish everyone who is reading this and even those who are not, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year. I hope that the year ahead will give everyone good reasons to rejoice!