Growing up, Santa Claus only existed on Christmas cards, brought to our doorstep by a postman who was busier than ever during the Christmas season. There was no chimney and there were no cookies. We didn’t know the names of Santa’s reindeer nor did we know that he had helpers called Elves.
Still, Christmas celebrations back home were memorable and fun. It was a time for giving to the less fortunate – the postman, the house help, the paper man, the milk man – all the people that helped in making living our everyday lives a little easier. Everybody gave happily, because it was the season to not just be jolly, but also to be generous.
Our gifts to one another were of a different nature. They seldom came wrapped in fancy gift wrapping. They came in the form of visiting relatives or they came in the form of ‘Kuswar’ that your mother lovingly prepared. These sumptuous delicacies were spread out on the table. As a kid, you were deliriously happy that every dish you loved was right here for you to indulge – all on one day.
The greatest gift was the shared spirit of Christmas with your family.
Sometimes, things got a little too spirited. The dreaded four letter word – FENI, did get the better of some adults. But there was always some sober soul who quietened everybody down. Only to get animated again at the table, stuffing themselves with sorpotel, sannas, beef roast, chicken xacuti, aroz fugado, bebinca and neureos.
No wonder nobody really missed Santa!