24th December, 2016 the day before Christmas Day started early for the young ones. They got themselves engrossed in making a Manger and placing images of the Nativity. Some of them were running around with a huge wooden ladder and climbing to tie out the colourful paper strips in the locality. Soon the area, our small Christian Para (Christian Dwelling) wore a real festive look ! Their hectic work schedule were often punctuated by the shoutings from grandpas and grandmas “time for lunch… please come home….” But their routine answers were “just ten minutes more, and we would be through !” My daughter- in- law made a huge Snow Man which was placed next to a Santa outside our home. It was very nicely made . By the time we could gather for the lunch it was already well paste noon !
After the Lunch, it was the continuation of the same routine for the boys, and, this time the girls took the charge of decora-ting the church… with lots of mistletoes and flowers of varied colours.
25th December, 2016
We woke up with the boom of the sound box playing “jingle bells”. Around 7.30 in the morning we all gathered at our church of the locality. Ours is a small
church with a sitting capacity of about 40 . On occasion like this we arrange for close-circuit-television transmission on the first floor room of the church so that those who could not make it inside the church can still go upstairs and join the worship. It was an hour-long service. Less of sermon and more of carols ! Along with traditional English tune carols, we also sing a few Bengali Christian songs set on old folk tunes. After the service we gathered outside the church for cake and coffee. There after we had Christmas Tree and all at the congregation got some useful prizes by picking up lucky numbers. The prizes were house hold items like comb, tea-stainer, mug, soap case, small kitchen cans and so on ! There after we gathered to pose for a family
photograph…… a very old tradition very religiously followed every year…. of course the photographer changes with changing times. In olden days it was one of my uncles who was a passionate photographer who did the job. Thereafter my elder brother-in-law, followed by me for some years. Presently my son is doing the photography for the past several Christmas !
Thereafter, there was the gathering of friends and relatives inside and outside our house…. with hot coffee, home made cakes and my daughter made a lot of chocolates to share for this occasion.
Around noon relatives from far flung places started arriving for the Christmas Lunch. This is a participatory event where every one shares the expenses for the food. I have some long tables which are taken out of our store-room for this occasion ! The lunch menu was very much a Bengali fare… Rice, Dal, mixed vegetable curry, chicken curry, sweet chutney, papad and sandesh (milk sweets). There were about 50 persons joining the meal.
In the evening I was sitting on a chair in front of the decorated Manger… playing Santa, by presenting each visiting child a small Santa replica and a toffee ! Till late evening there
were a good number of children who visited this festive arena. Around 9.45 in the night we had our night meal …. the loud speaker outside still playing “Man will live for ever more because of Christmas Day”!