It is well established that Christmas is celebrated on 25th December to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. As a child, I would eagerly await December; after all, it signaled when my parents would take their annual vacation. I would wait with bated breath to know where we’d be going, whom we’d be meeting and how we’d travel.
Once the plans were finalised, it was time for shopping. We would buy gifts for everyone we’d be visiting and then, of course, there was the packing. Oh, how I enjoyed visiting new places and making friends!
The importance of family
It is only as I grew up that I realised the actual significance of Christmas. I understood that Christmas was a special time for caring, sharing and bonding. The celebrations are reason to meet the entire extended family – grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, and to catch up on all the happenings of the past year with some gossip thrown in for good measure!
For us as children, the most exciting and stressful moment was waiting for Santa to arrive and bring us our Christmas gifts. The giving and receiving of gifts was a family tradition. We would wake up on Christmas morning to find a stocking filled with goodies and a beautifully wrapped gift too. We innocently believed that Santa Claus delivered gifts to the houses of good children only. We’d therefore go the extra mile a week ahead, in order to make sure we were on our best behaviour.
My parents ensured the entire family spent quality time with one other. It is thanks to them that I continue to share a strong bond with my siblings and cousins despite them being based across the world. In fact, as the elders in the family now, we have ensured that our children share the same close relationship with one another as we did growing up.
Lesson towards servant leadership
Christmas also gave us opportunity to think of the not so privileged amid us. The festive spirit definitely got us thinking of what we could do to bring joy and cheer into their lives, even if only for a short while. My parents instilled in us that giving was more rewarding than receiving. And therefore, along with gifts that were bought for us, my parents always bought a few necessities that could be given to the needy.
My father always said, “When you are happy, make others happy too.” Right from our formative years, we were taught to give back to society and to the community at large. I believe this was my first lesson towards ‘servant leadership’.
The symbolic fir tree
Legend has it that a fir tree became a symbol of Jesus Christ because of its shape. The triangle represents the Trinity. The fir tree, therefore, came to be associated with Christ and his birth.
Meanwhile, Santa Claus’ origin is traced to a monk named Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was born to wealthy parents around 280 CE in Patara, in modern-day Turkey. His parents raised him to be a devout Christian and Nicholas was very influenced by the teachings and preaching of Jesus. His parents, however, died when he was very young and Nicholas used his entire inheritance to assist the needy and the suffering.
Over the ages, Santa’s form has evolved and the current plump, jolly figure attired in red and white is attributed to Coca Cola’s marketing team.
What Christmas symbolises
Christmas today has become an open-house celebration not because of its distinctive faith but because of its very spirit. It is more than simply having fun, and receiving and opening gifts. It is much more than baking cakes and cookies and is definitely supersedes mere stockings filled with goodies and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
Come to think of it, the event is all about being happy and making others happy. It is about bringing a smile on the faces of the less fortunate. Above all, it is about giving more than receiving.