There was a time when I too believed that Santa came from the North Pole and I have to give credit to my folks and all the uncles & aunties at the tea estates for the effort they made to keep that belief going for a substantial number of years!
I'd say some of the most fun things we did as a family were during the Xmas break. Chalkhoowa Club and the parties there were particularly cool even though the format remained the same for as long as I can remember -We'd all go there, dressed in our best, at 4 in the afternoon and the games would begin-there was something for everyone from musical chairs to3 legged races and fancy dress competitions and goodies going around aplenty.
This would be followed by the awesome high-tea that the ladies would painstakingly prepared... and the cakes, oh! those cakes! Mum and her friends sure knew how to bake them good... delicious looking elves, Christmas trees, sleighs, bells, you name it! accompanied by a host other goodies like gingerbread men, candies etc.
But we kids just dint do justice to those goodies cos we'd all have our sights set on the big event...Santa's arrival of course! And while we ate, we'd keep our ears open for those jinglin' bells!
Hats off to the Committee at the Club for thinking up of the most innovative modes of transport for Santa who obviously couldn't travel in his sleigh to lands that had fog & mist at best in the winter! If you ever thought that this year Santa will just arrive on foot with his bag of goodies, well your wrong cos OUR Santa can travel in a Fire Engine, jeeps, bullock cart, basically anything that had wheels...Santa's job was to delight... and he took his job seriously...very very seriously!
Carrying his famous red bag of goodies, he'd walk in, flocked by all of us kids, while we sang Xmas carols, usually in a pretty decent chorus and after a good deal of 'Ho! Ho! Ho!'-ing, he'd get down to business... the business of handing out gifts one by one.
I particularly remember the Christmas before I was to go away to boarding school for the first time. Pretty much everyone had gotten their gifts, and I had a sinking feeling in my tummy as I watched the big red bag get empty. I dint want to be the only kid Santa had forgotten. I dint want to be forgotten even before I had gone away to a boarding school that was far away from home-from family and friends.
But Santa doesn't forget lil children, especially lil girls in pink lacy dresses with matching pink bows and matching pink shoes! Santa called out my name last with the biggest gift in his hand and I, being a shy kid, almost died in embarrassment as he quickly guessed out loud what had been going through my mind...and then he went on to tell his rapt audience about how I had managed to sail through the entrance exam for Mayo, while I sat on his lap!
Most poeple who know me now might laugh if they heard the word 'shy' being associated with me but then those days I squirmed under any kind of attention. So that Christmas, I was a bag of mixed emotions, both agonized and pleased by the attention.
I basked in the glory of this Christmas for one whole year, glowing with joy everytime I remembered the way it had panned out and looked forward to the next one with great cheer. Except, when the next one came, and we all welcomed Santa in the usual fashion, my dear friend, Ronu, being a few years older than us, took it upon himself to educate us and burst our bubble with a single comment, " These kids are so dumb, they actually think that Santa exists and that he has come down from the North Pole for them especially! I am just wondering which Uncle it is this time!"