Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
It’s 24th night. The Christmas tree is dressed and ready. Socks have been hung. Letters to Santa Claus have been written. It says something like this, “ I have been very good for the whole of last year, well almost. It is hard to be very good that long. But at least I have tried. And so has brother. Please ignore all his naughtiness and give both of us nice gifts. He also deserves it, really.  Please have the cookie(the cookie was cut and then cake was written it it’s place).    A piece of cake has been placed on a plate along with a glass of water.  Sohini wanted to keep cookies (Chocolate chip Cookies, in fact)  but I (their mother) said we had run out of them. I offered thin arrowroot. Both Sohini and Rohin looked hurt. “How could you give Santa something which we so grudgingly eat?” they tried to reason. I smiled within...memories of my childhood were flooding in. But looked  at them sternly. Later of course, they were allowed to keep a slice of Dundee cake. Both are extremely excited. Sohini wants to keep the front door open. “Now, that we don’t  have  fireplaces anymore, how will Santa come in. Besides mama he is a old man it is difficult to climb up the window. Let’s just leave the front door open.” Rohin wants to stay up and bargain a better gift in case Santa  chose to give him something he did not like. “What if he gives me a girlie gift, mama?” he cautions.
 “ He knows you are a boy and a very naughty one,”  I inform with a laugh.
“Say he chooses to give me a doll or a word game and I am there I would tell him then and there Mr Santa, Sir, I am a boy so please give me a drum or a gun or a football. He would have it all in his sack. He would just have to change it.”
I just start laughing. But papa Claus looks quite cross. Its freezing outside and  he has to smuggle the gifts in from the car dicky. “ I am not fetching them if you don’t put them to sleep right now,” he warns.  It is an absolute Ho Ho Ho situation at home. I imagine myself having to go all the way down from my seventh floor apartment to the parking area. Brrrrrrrr....
“Children Santa won’t come if you don’t go to sleep right now,” I hurry the kids to the bedroom as I hear a slight creak in the door.  Within minutes they are in their dream world.....dreaming of Santa Claus.
Papa Santa had the hardest job. But he too is back within minutes and tells me the gifts are in their assigned places.  “And don’t for get to eat the cake in the morning,” he reminds, “I am too full now.”
“Don’t worry I will,” I tell him setting the alarm at 5 o’clock.
I slept badly waking up in fits and starts and scampering up every now and then to reach out for the watch. I almost ate five slices of cakes in my dream. Thank God it was a dream or else I would have felt really giddy having eaten so many of those Dundee cakes. Actually, I really had a bad taste in my mouth when I eventually woke up. Every time, I would wake up and go to sleep I would  dream of myself stealthily tip toeing down the living room and reaching for the cake.    I first woke that 1 o'clock and then at 2.30 and then at 4. Ah! there is time, I said every time settling back to sleep and then eating another slice of those cakes. At five o'clock when the alarm really did go, I reached out for it and switched it off and told myself, waking up in a minute. 

When I woke up it was 6:30. The children were up and I could hear the squeals and shouts of joy coming  from the living room. They had found their gifts. I smile and settle back into the bed only to realise that I had not eaten the cake. I rush up to the living room. The children are ripping apart the wrappings around their gifts. "It's a drum," shouts Rohin while Sohini just hugs her Kitchenette. She has moon in her eyes when she says, "He read my mind. He knew I wanted just this."  But I am frantically searching for plate the cake. My eyes fall on the empty plate and I slump back to the couch in relief. "All of it was not a dream after all," i told myself," I had actually woken up and eaten the cake." I hug the children and wish them Merry Christmas. "Merry Christmas, Mom," they shout in unison. Only papa Santa looks a little grumpy, I feel as I served him tea. 
" So?", he asks when we are alone, " How was the cake?" he asks. 
I new something was wrong and kept my silence.
"Trust you with a job," he says refusing the biscuits with his tea,"The cake, the cake, you talked all night in your sleep not letting me catch a wink. And, here I find the cake sitting nicely on the plate and you snoring away."
"So, you ate the cake?" I asked, "and I was thinking I  must have eaten it." 
"I gobbled it at the nick of time," he informed,"Couldn't let them down."
"I know," feeling sad that I couldn't play my part.

" And Santa ate the cake," I see Sohini peeping from the playroom, "that is why I was wondering what was that tinkering sound at mid night. It was Santa!" she exclaimed. 
"So, you heard him?" I ask.
" Yes, I did," tells my little girl.
"He also said Ho, Ho, Ho, in my ear, I think," tells Rohin.
" which ear?" I ask.
"Both ears," he tells. I am laughing already.
"How is that possible?" questions her elder sister  unwilling to accept Santa doing something better to her bother.
"Everything is possible with him..he is Santa," argues Rohin.
 While Sohini is looking extremely angry and skeptical I settle down into another reverie of my own childhood where there was similar excitement over this  extremely lovable old man in a red suit with fur trimmings. 

 Sometimes I feel that the children will soon out grow this world of make belief where there  are pixies and fairies and gnomes and Santa Claus and that little pink fairy in Sohini's school bag who sharpens her pencils every night and the little brownie in the children's cupboard  who looks after their toys.   They would laugh at the whole idea just like we do. But,  thank God there was a Santa Claus who made us look forward to Christmas. The cold winters were much more tolerable because there was a fairy round the corner of the street. The old toys were so lovable because it spoke to the brownie every night. And lastly, it was after all the pink fairy's fault and not the forgetful mother when the pencils were not sharpened in the morning.  

To end, on this cold winter morning my mind races back to my childhood where mama would be busy preparing breakfast and she would  call us and say " Go out into the sun....the fairies  are waiting to see how you are today."  I now know it was maa and pa all the time and their love and made that wonderful world of make belief possible!  

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