Decorations melt chilly hearts

By Shakti Nochur
Published: December 2008

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not from a family full of Christmas fanatics. I will not celebrate Christmas this year with presents under a tree and carols playing in the background as cookies bake in the oven. Nothing against such people (I’m a huge fan of the cheer), but that’s not me nor is it my family.

Actually, I’m a Hindu whose family thinks that the consumerism that Christmas perpetuates is despicable. Although my parents indulged my older brother and me with a Christmas tree when we were younger, they have since given up on the idea. They were even reluctant to agree to buy me a present at all this year. (I’m getting a Blackberry. Success.)

I’m here to argue that Christmas, despite the mall frenzy it causes, my parents’ dislike for it, and its religious affiliation, is a wonderful holiday for all of us, even the Hindus.

What I want to ask my parents every time they diss this glorious holiday is how they can do anything but smile when they drive down a street whose lawns are lit up with reindeer, inflatable Santas, and icicle lights. Why don’t I ask? Because they would likely say that it’s cheesy and stupid. I respectfully disagree. I think it’s charming.

I cannot help but be excited when I see buildings decorated with paper snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and red and green wreaths and trees. I love when Starbucks switches over to their red and white holiday cups. Yes, this is consumerism at its best (or worst) – the fact that I know that Starbucks switches over in October (a little premature for Christmas maybe) means I definitely spend too much time and money buying grande non-fat chais – but to me there is not much negativity in the smiles that the festive cups bring to my face (and to those of my fellow Starbucks addicts).

Honestly though, I’m not a total nut. I’m not even that big a fan of Christmas music. But the cheer that Christmas brings is positive in every way. Some may say that it’s holiday spirit, and for some it’s true that Hanukkah or Kwanza may be the cause of the winter cheer, but for those of us who like finding some happiness in the dismal cold of winter and who have no religious holiday in December, the red and green of Christmas is what saves us.

And Christmas day itself, even without a tree, is something that I cannot help but look forward to. Christmas has morphed into a universal holiday, and an excuse to shuffle around my house and spend time with my family. I get to sit in front of the fire and pretend that my parents really like Christmas. It is the perfect reason to stay in the house and be cozy, knowing that it is a holiday and Christians, Hindus, Jews, atheists, and plenty of people of other religions and belief systems across the country are sitting around doing the exact same thing.

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