I was walking through the streets of South Ex one chilly evening when “Jingle bells, jingle bells….” echoed through the air and knocked at my ears. It brought a smile on my face as I realized Christmas time - the birth of Jesus Christ - was nearing; a time for celebration- gifts, cakes, cards, music, food, etc.
It also reminded me that it was a time for family, friends and relatives. And this very thought of family and relatives brought a melancholic feeling in me because here I am in the national capital, New Delhi, about some 1500 miles away from home. But then, that has been the way of my life during Christmas times over the decade – A Christmas away from Home; after all it’s the spirit that matters.
So, for those of us away from home, preparation is on a high as Christmas gets closer by the day; just the way it is at home. Regardless of whether one is celebrating with their home town community, relatives or friends, the spirit is already high and so is the mood – after all, this is Christmas, the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ and it’s time to celebrate.
As for preparations, the first thing is looking out for a place to blast it off 24th night. Having the place confirmed, other preparations such as how to organise midnight services and other such decorations, food arrangements, cakes, music and sending out invitations follow. And Oh! We do collect money and contribute for the Christmas party to make it the best celebration because it comes just once a year. Right?
Perhaps, these are the most hectic yet the best of times too because the spirit of celebrating the birth of Jesus wipes it all. And once everything is set and ready, it’s the passionate wait for 24th of December.
24th of December
The most exciting day indeed; a final touch is given to all preparations to ensure nothing is left out – cakes, gifts, songs, food, etc. And as evening draws, everyone gets into their best of attire with the best of smiles on their faces, filled with the spirit of joy, peace and harmony, the main gifts of the Christmas season. With all the final preps done, now it is destination Church for midnight service or some other place as might have been discussed and agreed upon by all in the group.
Most often, the midnight service begins around 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. and at 12:00 midnight, the Church or the place of worship raptures into a shout and joy of jubilation at the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. Famous and popular Christmas carols such as “Joy to the world..”, “Hark the Herald Angels sing..”, “Angels we have on high..”, Mary’s boy child, Jesus Christ..”, etc. are sung taking the notes to, sometimes, never reached before. One can easily feel the joy and jubilation in the carols.
This is followed by greeting, cake cutting, gift exchanging and many other curriculum activities. And being a Christmas away from home, phone calls to family and friends out there at home is a common sight. And Delhi, with a night life that is everlasting, celebrations often continue till the wee hour of the 25th morning; joy and jubilation all along.
The celebration continues with songs, food, games but not before a prayer service of thanks and praise to God Almighty for the gift of peace, love and harmony through His son, Jesus Christ. And as noon draws, a beautiful lunch comprising all delicacies is served for all to enjoy and experience the goodness of the Lord who was born on this day.
Most often, this is followed by continuation of celebration into the night until 26th morning.
So, regardless of where you celebrate your Christmas, the spirit is the same. So is the reason. Though at times it makes you wish you were home with your near and dear ones, you know in your heart that you are all one with them on this day: the joy, the spirit, the celebrations, the songs, etc. – they fill you with a sense like no other. They induce in you a feeling like none, making you wish a Christmas everyday. After all, this is Christmas, a time to celebrate love and peace.