Playing Santa Claus to bring in joy
Monday, December 26, 2011 AT 08:38 PM (IST)
It was the Christmas in 1985 in Lucknow when for the first time I played Santa Claus to a group of 50 journalists drawn from all over India. We were camping there for a three-month diploma course. Those days, Christmas was not yet commercialised by the market forces and the Santa Claus costume was not so easily available. I had to sport a white beard and a mustache glued onto a cardboard paper. I used a long black overcoat. But none of the campers minded it as this was the first encounter with Santa Claus for most of them. Since then, I have played the role of the old man in red and white attire a number of times.
After the birth of my daughter, playing Santa for her and her peer group became a necessity. Those days, the young ones, majority of them non-Christians in our building and colony, looked forward to meeting Santa Claus on the eve of Christmas and the parties we had in the parking lot on Christmas morning. Their parents too were willing to contribute in various ways to make these events more enjoyable. Now the children have grown up and are studying at colleges. I am sure they cherish their memories of meeting Santa Claus and the enjoyable parties with him.
When I rang the door bells of my neighbours donning Santa Claus attire for the first time, there were clear signs of disbelief and pleasant shock on their face. I remember a young mother who opened the door around 11 pm and shrieked after seeing the mask of Santa and shut the door. She burst into laughter when she, along with her family members, opened the door again and recognised Santa. The children below three years too have a similar fear reaction when they see a bearded masked man for the first time. It is only a couple of years later that they grow quite fond of Santa Claus.
My teenager daughter no longer expects me to play Santa Claus for her and her friends during Christmas but there are always tiny tots in the building and in the neighbourhood. And they have helped me retained my enthusiasm to don the red and white gown, the long cap, and ring the bell at their home on December 24 night to cheer them and also the elders. Christmas has no longer remained a religious festival of a particular community. It is a joyous festival, a season of sharing gifts and joy with others. This realisation propels me to don the red and white attire every time around Christmas.