Christmas Cheer! Even from Complaining Cats | Sunday Observer

Christmas Cheer! Even from Complaining Cats

No belly aching today, only stretching and relaxing. No grousing and groaning, only purring. That’s me today, this feline who vents venom on most Sundays. Not today, on this special Sunday.

This cat enjoyed a Christmas party of Old Girls; received some Christmas cake and a couple of gifts. Christmas cards are arranged on a table top supported by ornaments that adorn it. And the crisp, nippy sunshiny air is pervaded by Christmas carols and that spirit of Christmas - like no other. “This holiday season, no matter what you remember; please take a moment and reflect on why it’s better than all other ones” That was advice in a quote I came across.

It set this cat thinking. We have a surfeit of celebrations and public holidays in this land of ours: two days of Vesak which usually run into a week; Sinhala and Tamil New Year which is a two day celebration, one, of doing nothing and the other celebrating with a vengeance. This celebration too extends to ten days or more until the astrologers pronounce an auspicious time for going about one’s business whether it be to an office job or trading or whatever.

January 1st is a day imbued with newness and looking forward to a fresh twelve months, and very wisely, not a public holiday. Thaipongal, Deepavali, Ramazan and Prophet Mohamed’s birthday are all minority observances and marked by the majority as welcome holidays. Easter is essentially a Christian celebration unlike Christmas, which is celebrated in many ways by most people, especially, liberal Buddhists.

To many non–Christians it is significant because so many children of other religions studied in Christian missionary schools though most now are absorbed into the educational mainstream. Those schools introduced the spirit of Christmas in their multi-ethnic, multi-religious students.

So is Christmas better than all other festivals? Not better, but definitely spreads itself wider and is marked by almost everyone. The city, though as hot and dusty as ever, turns to magic, come nightfall, with the many illuminations, glorious decorations, genial Santas and carols in the air. Christmas trees in shops and homes are so happily welcoming. Vesak has its illuminations: the home ones quiet and pious, the pandals garish. Not so Christmas lights which are all lovely. We eat a bit of cake, take a swill of wine, cracker a bonbon and tuck into breudher if not plum pudding. Commercially, it’s of course the most profitable festival in our calendar. “Christmas isn’t a date. It’s a state of mind.” Correct? Yes. It’s much more than a state of mind. It is a way of glorious living for a couple of days.

A poya day, all twelve holidays, are mere calendar dates to most and welcome lazy days. Not so Christmas. Everyone loves it and enjoys it to different degrees: sumptuously, quietly, just as a token, or made to. I suppose to those rabidly other-religious, particularly like the ISIS terrorists, Christmas must be hated because it’s the Christians mostly, the West and Russia with its Orthodox Church, that is hell bent on eliminating them from the face of the earth.

Welcome and Amen, we intone, to this intent. So December 25 is not a mere day/date in the calendar. To the Christians the most important date, as on that day their Saviour was born in Bethlehem. Shirley Temple is reported to have said: “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six years when Mother took me to go see a department store and he asked for my autograph.”

There’s disillusionment for you with commercialism thrown in. Poor Shirley Temple, the price she paid for her popularity as a child star in Hollywood. Santa is generous giving, discipline, loving kindness and mystery all rolled into one. I say discipline since you know the song – You’d better watch out/ You better be good/ You better not pout... for Santa’s coming tonight. And his kindness as shown to Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. Children get to know Santa as an imaginary, created figure when they learn of the remoteness of Greenland and the impossibility of travelling around the world on a reindeer-led sleigh. They get to know him as just another man, probably their dad, when they see Santa kissing Mama; or when other less incredulous children pooh pooh belief in the red robed, bearded man.

And the last Christmas quote from me to you: “Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.” Yes, that is the wonder of children; to be so full of wonder. A tree with all those decorations and gifts placed at its bottom is a wonder to them and ever so tall and plentiful.

To us adults this year, this quote is epitomized by the world’s tallest Christmas tree constructed by the Colombo Port guys in this tiny island.

How tall is it? Go look it up and judge and maybe its Guinness Book record-holding height, may give you a crick in the neck. I’ve got that plus a jab in the heart and a dart in my backside. The stiff neck is due to the Cardinal himself bending backwards to give way to politicians.

The pain in the heart is sadness caused by the utter waste of money, when Rs 12 million could have been spent so that thousands of little children would have Christmas bonuses brought to them in hampers of goodies, or houses built to call their own.

The stab in the you-know-where is the idiocy of some workers and most Ministers of State. To think the Prime Minister, whom we thought of as having brains and good sense, is the one who intervened between that Man who won us the World Cup and the Pope’s trusted Cardinal to let a foolish construct be continued till it raises itself on Galle Face Green.

Oh well! That’s life! Let’s sit back and enjoy the day and the season. This cat will purr with contentment. What will you do? Eat, drink and be merry? Best to you!

- Menika