...remind me why I started off my paragraph with the word 'sadly'?
The only sad part (aside from the mercenary) is that I'll be missing Christmas with my housemates...the pain is dulled somewhat by the fact that we have cleverly devised a way in which I can still participate in Secret Santa, long distance. Exchanging of the chits has just occurred, which means that I'm already worrying about whether my Secret Victim will like my present or not.
I am aware that 'tis the season to be jolly, and sing 'fa-la-la-la-la' in an annoying high pitched voice in people's ears at unexpected moments, but somehow this year I feel most un-Christmassy. All this is despite the fact that the city centre has been drenched with Christmas lights and decorations since the beginning of November, and giant Christmas trees have been erected at strategic points, and all the shops have cunningly lowered their prices in time for Christmas shopping (who's complaining?!) It didn't take much thought to conclude that this sad lack of Christmas spirit is not due so much to the lack of Christmas-ness in the environment, but to the lack of home, family and my lovely, lovely church, St. Andrew's Kirk Chennai. Sigh.
Usually, things go somewhat like this:
UNIVERSE: Psst, Cheeta...I think Christmas is coming on soon.
ME: WOO HOO, BRING ON THE BUBBLY!
This year goes somewhat like this...
UNIVERSE: CHRISTMAS IS COMING! CHRISTMAS IS COMING! I WILL NOW PROCEED TO OVERLOAD YOUR BRAIN WITH CHRISTMAS VIBES FOR 2 MONTHS STRAIGHT!
ME: Hmm, what? Can you repeat that please, I think I missed it.
The thing is that I generally spend the whole of December with my parents and my church buddies, attending an endless stream of plays, dinners, concerts and parties, including iconic and anticipated events like the Christmas Pantomime by the Little Theatre, the outdoor carol concert at the MCC grounds for two evenings straight, Carols by Candlelight, Nine Lessons and Carols in church, and the famous carol rounds - to name a few. To crown it all, I do my best to attend both the midnight and the morning services on both Christmas and New Year, just so I make sure I see and wish everyone possible. I put a lot of thought into my clothes every year, and make sure I wear something interesting that is NOT a sari (because everyone else wears one). And most of all, the people I spend Christmas with keep the true meaning and significance of Christmas in sight, whereas here it seems to be almost solely about Santa and reindeers and trees and presents, which is all very well and good and fun, but not actually what Christmas is. They should be the subtext, not the meaning, but here the roles seem to have been reversed.
I just can't wait to see a familiar face from St. Andrew's...Anisha, here I come! And when I get back, I need to find a good church hopefully somewhat similar to mine at home, and make some friends there to talk about Christian things with, or I'm totally going to lose my thread and float away into the darkness. Except less dramatically. I miss my church and the people in it so much. I haven't missed a single Sunday for years, but since I came here, I haven't had the heart to search very hard for a new church...I think because I'm so attached to my own, where I've been all my life, my comfort zone, where I know everyone and everyone knows me, and I have my own little family of dogs in the grounds.It was not just my place of worship, in a way it was my family, and the people in it helped me to stay grounded, and I never really realised it because I'm so independent, but now that they're not so easily within reach anymore...I'm on my own and losing ground. Sigh. I haven't suffered from homesickness, but I hope I can spend my next Christmas back home. Meanwhile, I need to pick my spirits (especially my Christmas spirit) up, dust them off, give them a strong dose of brandy or some similar beverage, get my backside off this chair and go shopping for presents and a Christmas outfit - it's the 21st and I have just the vaguest idea of what to wear. And this year, I'm going to blend with the crowd, and not more than 3 people are going to know my name. But then again, that's not what important or what Christmas is all about, is it? :-)
Joy to the world.