University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
“Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.” Christmas songs like this one and many, many more were stuck in my head for the upcoming holidays. I was December 19, 2001, and these songs from television shows to radios and even from Christmas shopping music at stores were played over and over again until I was humming them myself. With Christmas break coming right around the corner from my circled-calendar marked, which I was anxiously waiting the arrival of, I was very excited. Right from the beginning, the first time that it snowed in the winter, I thought of Christmas. It was hard imaging it when I was hard at work shoveling the snow from my driveway, but I was still a little synched. The wonderful Christmas decorations on roof-tops around my town helped me get into the Christmas spirit. Oh, and you know what else helped me get into the spirit, the presents! Not what Christmas is all about to most people, but it is a big part in my life.
Familiar family and friends, and all of the wonderful and expensive gifts were awaiting my arrival at my cousin’s house in New York City. On the day before the holiday break had officially started, I was bored awaiting the 12’o clock bell, and I got excited every time I thought about the upcoming holidays. My only worry though, was what presents to get my cousins, it can’t be too expensive, but it can’t look cheap at the same time. Also, I was breaking your back getting out the tree, and putting the cheap ornaments carefully on the tree, so that it doesn’t fall and break. And after those two things are done, there is nothing else to do, except to wait and to just count the days until that crisp-cold morning when I get to open my presents and see what everybody has given me.
The houses on my block are all aglow with lights, and looked wonderful at night. The Christmas tree, which I helped decorate with a box of ornaments from the attic, has now been decorated, illuminated with the same lights, and looks wonderful at all times. Everybody’s into the spirit of the season, which is the season of giving as everybody knows, but of course like all of the Christmas years, It is difficult and hard for me to remember that it is not the ‘season of receiving’, not giving! “But giving is so much fun than receiving,” I would always say when somebody tells me about what the season is all about! Eventually I had to get myself to those expensive and crowded shopping malls so that I can get my family and friend’s the presents that they have seen on an ad somewhere, and of course the ad is promoting it only cause it is Christmas time, and they know and you know that your friends and family members want the first and all things that they see somewhere. After I convinced myself that it was going to be over soon, I was on my way to the malls…
“It’s off to the malls we go”, I said to myself, “Oh! Ho Ho Ho Ho!” saying it with the verse from the ’12 Dwarves, with my list in one hand, and the other filled with money I had received from doing hard work over the summer. I talked to my cousin’s the day before on the phone, and had asked them what they wanted. Eventually I found out that I couldn’t write down all of the stuff they wanted so I decided to get myself a pen and paper, and write down some of the things they wanted. I found myself writing down the names of new toys that sounded familiar to me from TV-commercials. They wanted the new, promotion stuff, which I predicted right, I might add. I didn’t want to disappoint them though, because I’m getting stuff too on that Christmas morning, when we exchange gifts. And my face is glowing with all of the presents in my hand, so I decided to stick to the list and “exchange.”
As I’m walking through the mall, my eyes dilate from all of the Christmas decorations all across the mall. Not one corner has not been decorated that would not make you think of Christmas. As soon as I walked in, right in the middle of the mall, you’re greeted with a huge and tall Christmas tree with ornaments, which hurt your neck when you’re looking from the bottom to the 2nd floor, where the tree finally touches. You could tell the tree wasn’t real, but it nevertheless it looked good and got everybody more into the Christmas spirit, I guess, of apparently buying stuff at the mall. I noticed that the snow underneath glistened with the lights, and it caught my eye. If you follow this fake snow of cotton-ball, it leads you on a curvature path and a curvature red carpet on that path, and right into a red-bearded man’s lap, named Santa.
Santa, so there he was, he had made it, all the way down from the North Pole to Burlington, Massachusetts Shopping Complex, to greet everybody. In front of him, and even around the corner of him, were eager little boys and girls! Some were good, some bad pretending to be good, some with big presents and giant list in their mind, others more foolish and with simple ones, but the thing that they all had in common, was that they all couldn’t wait to sit upon this man’s knee, and give them their lists of toys that they wanted under that Christmas tree come Christmas morning, and the parents eagerly hearing every last word that their kid wanted. After hearing a few phrases such as, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! Have you been a good little boy or girl,” from Santa Clause, I decided that I had enough and went on with my merry shopping.
After a the day of forcing my hand out of my pocket with large amounts of money out and replace them with small amounts of change, I had finally finished, and bought something for everybody on my long and expensive list. Content that I was finished, sad that I was broke; I started my way out of the mall. On my way out of the mall, I took one more glance at Santa, and his helpers, the funny big-eared elves running around. I had a quick laugh to myself, and a smirk upon my face from the funny elves, and it made me more content, and than took a glance at my wallet to see how much money was left, and it made me less content, but then I thought of the many presents awaiting me come Christmas morning and I didn’t care anymore.
After a four hour car drive to New York, I was finally there, and rubbed my eyes when my mom yelled, “We’re there!” and woke up from my nap in the car. Still recovering, I had trouble carrying the presents that I had brought the day bored, and carried them inside and safely underneath the tree, and searched for mine. There were so many presents for so many people. I pretended for a second that they were all for me, and I got even more excited than I was when I first laid my eyes on the presents. I was interested in the ones that I was addressed to me and shook them to see if I can recognize the mystery present wrapped in them. Some were obvious, like cd’s and clothes, but other were harder to figure out, and called for further investigation.
Finally, it was time to sleep, and end that Christmas Eve celebration, and wait for Christmas and as of midnight. Before the big finale thought, my cousins and my whole family had a lot of fun standing, some sitting next to the tree, trying to guess each other’s presents. I really wanted to know what was in my present, and I was willing to shake the present itself and the giver of that present. We gave each other clues on their gifts, but I still didn’t know, but I had a lot of fun guessing at my presents and giving my cousin’s clues on the ones that I had bought for them. The rest of the day was fun. We played watched Christmas movies like, “Jingle All The Way,” and “The Santa Clause.” These movies were coming on the TV because of the holiday season. It was a real fun time, I started figuring out. Not worrying about school work, any work at all for that matter. From there, I knew that it wasn’t just ‘no school.’ The holidays meant a little something else to me.
A little something deeper and I knew that I had to think and look inside myself, because it wanted to come out, whatever I was holding back, I had to let it out. I don’t know, not just watching TV, but just hanging out with my family, and friends, it gave me a funny feeling. Not just the presents on the first floor, something else I thought to myself. “What else is there?” I noticed that whenever I come to New York, it made me feel good, it made me feel like there were people that cared more about me, than me, myself. It gave me a place for me in this world, and assured me that whatever happens in my life, I can always go to them for advice, anything, any aid or help that I may need. I found was thinking this all until I went to bed, and even after. My family, it made me feel loved, not just because of the ordinary, ‘I love you’s,’ but because of something more, something from the heart.
That night, I had a dream. What if, what if I didn’t have that many things, and nothing to share the things with? What if, this Christmas everybody my whole family was broke, and had no money to get each other gifts. In my dream, I thought this is horrible. “This is a night-mare” but then I was having fun, and sharing hugs even without the gifts and the presents. I realized that Christmas is not just presents, forget the presents, if you had nobody to share the presents with and you are alone, you wouldn’t have a good time. The presents are nothing compared to your family and what you have on Christmas day. That isn’t the presents that make you look forward to Christmas almost one month ahead, or the first time it snows, you’re your family. You wish to be with the people that you love, when your whole world is upside down with jobs, work, money, school. The shared love blocks it all, and I was beginning to realize it.
I knew that I had always been love, but now, during this holiday, where everybody comes together, I had realized it after this so much time I had spend over my cousins house. I had figured out why I liked it so much. Why I enjoyed it, it was a way for me to escape any worries that I might be conflicting with, and this was because of the shared love in the house, Sharing Christmas with my family was always amazing, and this night, Christmas Eve, almost being Christmas day, I had pondered upon it, and from that evening when I started to ponder upon it, and by night with my dreams and my continuing search for answers, this is what I realized. No Christmas morning, you don’t look forward to the material things, you look forward to seeing your many cousins from across New York and beyond, some family members from out of the U.S. and you wish to share this love.
Eventually I slept, but I was aroused from something, something in the middle of the night. I thought I had heard someone on the roof top, something or someone. It sounded to me like steps, I thought about it for a second, as I was half-a-sleep. “Could it be…? Should it be…? Is it because of all those Disney movies I watched today…?” I continued to think about it. If I look at that window on the ceiling, what will I see? What are those sounds that sound almost like steps? Now remember, I’m a very lazy person, and this pondering, was the only way I can convince myself to wake up from my dream. I was definitely, positively going to wake up, and verify what I had heard.
Now, what I was thinking was going to be up-there, on the roof-top isn’t important. What is important is that I finally woke up. I opened my eyes, and removed the crust from my eyes. I then, started my way of looking up to the ceiling. My head was moving, I wasn’t scared, as I was tired. I saw rain-drops falling on the window. “Was that the steps, the rain…? Or was it, because I took so long to look up, and wake up that ‘he’ had already gone to the next chimney.” I looked at the alarm clock beside me, and my eyes cried from the red light. I saw the time; it was 12:01 am. “Merry Christmas” I mumbled.
I woke up that morning, and thought of rubbing my eyes to get rid of that itchy morning crust, but there was none. “Oh ya!” I remembered my experience, because of that, and thought that, it was weird, but didn’t think much of it, because it was far until, I remembered that Christmas was here and that it was Christmas day. I wasn’t much excited about my presents and what I have gotten, but more of how my cousins would look when I give my presents to them. I quickly, with my right hand, got a firm grip on the blanket, and pulled it off of me, got out of bed, and went down the stairs.
While I was coming down the stairs, the first thing I saw was the beautiful Christmas tree, not lit up, but ornamented. The gifts rested snuggly underneath the Christmas tree, and the house was aglow with excitement! I went to my cousins to see if any of them were up. To my surprise, I was the first one awake, and I thought I was the one lazy, but it wasn’t hard waking any of them up. Only one word could arouse them as fast as I had gotten out of bed, and that word was “Christmas!” Yes, this did the job pretty well of making everybody excited and pop right out of bed, almost as if you were sleeping on burning ‘coal’ and had now just figured out that it was hot and on first.
And soon, all of my family was gathered in the living room. Not the living room that you spend in often with the TV, but this was one that you hardly go to. This was the one that was reserved for the tree, which I have not noticed how beautiful it looks, and how the ornaments glisten from the light of the morning sun. The living room was filled with all of my family, old and young. From my oldest grandparents, to my youngest baby cousins, they were all there, and I was so happy to see them all in such a long time, and in one big place. They all made it from different states, different regions, and different countries even. From Boston to Long Island, From Queens to Staten and they all made it. I had slept over my cousin’s house, like I always do when I come to their house, but these people had to drive early in the morning just to exchange gifts.
They didn’t just drop it off; they had to see our faces glow in order to give it to us… One after the other, we exchanged gifts, gifts of all sizes, some small, some big. While I was exchanging I wasn’t even thinking about money, or the price factor. This is weird, but I liked it, it made me appreciate even the little gifts, for example, the socks that my grandmother quilted. Sure you can go to the store, and get a pair of socks for 9.99, but ones that my grandmother quilt, nope you can’t get that in any retail store, and I have them. I didn’t have much time to thing about it, but I remember thinking, “In Boston, even though the money I had spend to my family gifts was hard-earned money, in New York, I was so glad to see their faces and I was so glad to be spending it on them, the ones that I love.”
There were many layers of newspaper wrapping paper, this tradition of newspaper wrapping paper, goes way back to my first Christmas.
I remember my first Christmas with my cousins; it was at the age of six, when I had come to this country. They had proud me in. I remember when I was in India, and I vaguely remember that my cousins who apparently lived in the U.S had sent us a card that said, “Merry Christmas.” I then had asked my mom what Christmas was. My mom told me that it was a holiday where a man, ‘Santa Clause’ comes to everybody’s house through their chimneys, delivering presents to the kids at 12:00 at night on December 25th. I had also asked what kind of presents, and my mom said toys, new toys. I was excited about the toys part of this new holiday I was just learning about, but worried about this man coming to my house at night-time. I was only six years old, and someone coming to other people’s houses un-detected scared me.
I had locked all the doors that night, I must have still been thinking of this new holiday. Well, then when my family came here, as a visit to my cousin’s house in the U.S. That year we celebrated this new holiday, and my mom used good wrapping paper, while my cousins used newspaper. And then the second and then the third, and finally this, making it our ninth Christmas together has been almost like a tradition, a family tradition to meet on the holidays and exchange gifts with newspaper. But it didn’t even matter what was under that wrapping paper, because I was just happy that my whole family was here on this crisp Christmas morning.
My cousin’s cousin, my aunt and uncle, everybody from everywhere were here. The rest of the day was pretty much tiring, but fun! The day was filled and occupied with the testing, and/or wearing of the presents from out loved ones. We had shared our hugs, and our love, and I said thank you to anything they had given me, because that didn’t really matter, at this Christmas, because I had finally figured it out. I had finally figured out the true reason why I love the Christmas holidays, and the true meaning of Christmas. This Christmas that I’m writing about more than any other ordinary Christmas that I’ve had, was because I had learned something.
Not from any lesson from my parents, nor from any discipline issues, but from something deeper, from myself, from inside. I had learned that, Christmas was not having or “receiving” as much things as possible, which is what I had thought back in Boston before I had come here, but had realized that sharing and “giving” love was the only true present that you can give on Christmas day, and I had figured this out the day before Christmas, which was lucky for me.
I had learned that it wasn’t about receiving, it was more about sharing the love of everybody in that room, because you care about them enough that even if they gave you a piece of coal for Christmas, that you would still go up to them, and hug them, and say “I love you!” Because that, boys and girls, is what Christmas is all about, and this Christmas, more than other any Christmas was the best Christmas ever!