I am definitely feeling Christmassy. At least, was. Till I watch a dubbed Santa on a news channel delivering a message in chaste Hindi. The voice-over artist dutifully translates even the ‘Ho Ho Ho’ at the end. Into a clumsy hee hee hee before he gives his and the cameraman’s name and signs off.

The house looks pretty – tiny lights winking from behind holly wreaths and mistletoes. Heaps of gifts lie stacked in my room. I am reviewing the list. Going through the names Inspecting the corresponding gifts. Then, rejecting them. Planning a replacement gifts. I am so stressed. In a complete gift-freeze. Santa is a cruel guy sitting there having the last laugh as we kill ourselves trying to keep him real!

Red caps are dotting the roads. Even my pan-waala wa was wearing one. I wondered if he also let out a ‘Ho Ho Ho’ as he wrapped the betel leaf around that delectable nucleus. My son is singing carols loudly in the bathroom. He is hollering out to all ‘ye faithful’ to come and be joyful. Indeed, it is a special moment he finally agrees to take a bath!

I have stolen another slice of the plum cake from the bread box. Ummm, it is so delicious! This baker should be sainted, I declare. Every slice makes me more and more religious – every time I sneak in one, I mutter a prayer for forgiveness.

So, amongst all these festivities, what is the message of Christmas?

It is Hope. Enduring, persevering hope. That God is there for us. As you sit in the pale Winter sun worrying about tomorrow, as you tug your shawl closer around your shoulders anxious about your mother’s health, as you bake cupcakes for your child’s Christmas party wondering if his friends will like them, remember to fill your heart and soul with hope. Bad times melt away. Yes, they do. God will not test you more than you can bear. He will comfort you.

Christmas is about faith. Do not let a failed relationship, a bitter experience or a string of failures cow you down. Just believe things do not remain horrible forever.

Hug yourself. Look inside. Take a tour of all the goodness inside you. Then, look at God’s creations around you. That new flower that has just bloomed on your window-sill, that quirky cloud that looks like Rudolph, that cheerful kid at the traffic signal flaunting his Santa cap, not letting hopelessness and poverty overpower him.

Celebrate what fills you with joy. Yes, it may take effort. Especially, if you are going through a rough patch. But, if you try, if you persist, joy will find you. So will hope.

Have a blessed Christmas!