Today, when I visited a popular Mall in Gurgaon, it was appropriately jam packed! It seemed as if all the roads from even Delhi seemed to be leading to that Mall. The parking lots were full, and I did think about turning back home! Santa, bells, holy leaves, and even songs about Rudolf seemed to be playing all over. There was even this little boy riding with his parents, wearing a mask that seemed to have some likeness to what Santa would look like!
What is it then that makes Christmas so attractive to everyone? My pastor says that it is the glitz, and glam, the sugar coating, the gift-wrapping, the late night parties, the modern Western culture that makes this occasion so attractive! This brings me to Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol which revolves around a rather miserly man called Scrooge. Mr.Scrooge is haunted by three ghosts and each ghost teaches him a lesson. They are the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future. Mr. Scrooge undergoes a process of transformation after coming across the three ghosts. He learns about the significance of Christmas and Dickens very aptly sums up the meaning of Christmas as a time for forgiving others, a time for sharing, a time for socializing, a time for being generous, a time for fellowship…etc. Dickens however goes on to suggest that one should celebrate the Christmas spirit, not just during Christmas, but rather all one’s life!
What then is Christmas spirit? It is certainly not about glitz and gifts but rather it is about charity and the giving of alms, it is about fellowship, respect for other human beings, it is about fulfilling one’s social obligations and social responsibilities, it is also about being contented and satisfied with the little one has. The meagre fare that was served at Bob Cratchit’s home in the play the Christmas Carol was appreciated by the whole family. It was ironical that the impoverished Cratchit family was more contented than Mr.Scrooge who was a rich man! The Christmas spirit is also about tenderness. Tiny Tim was a handicapped child who would have died if Scrooge hadn’t undergone a transformation which made him more sensitive and responsible. Ultimately, after being shown the possibility of Tiny Time dying because of lack of proper treatment, as shown by the Ghost of Christmas future, Scrooge decided to sponsor the little child’s treatment. He becomes a guardian to the little child and pays for all his medical treatments.
One of the Pastors of my church in Gurgaon who is now a Bishop recounted how people would light candles before one of the life-sized manikins of Santa Claus that had been kept in front of the Church. The manikin had to be placed back inside the church! So what then is the message of Christmas? Is it about lighting candles to a manikin of Santa Clause, or is it about giving each other expensive gifts? The fact is that Christmas is not about any of these things! Christmas is about how Jesus Christ came into this world for the forgiveness of our sins! That he was born in a manger, and yet was visited by the three wise men from across the globe was significant for all of us.That this great man was born not as a rich king but as a humble son of a carpenter seems to have been lost in a world that believes in materialism and the giving away of expensive gifts and sumptuous meals and visits to Malls! In our craze for shopping for gadgets and new clothes, haven't we perhaps forgotten to give away the money that we spend on gifts to each other to those destitute people who can’t afford one square meal a day? Would we rather be Scrooges of the twenty-first century to spend exorbitant amounts on our children than perhaps be reminded about our social duties and responsibilities towards each other?