Dreaming of a White Christmas, and Green Eyes

As an Army child, I had the good fortune of celebrating the festivals of many prominent religions and cultures as long as my father was a part of a large regiment. The entire cantonment got together for the celebration. The mood was festive all around, since the entire community was involved. It not only made us aware of the sensibilities of other religions and cultures, we also got to have a lot of fun doing things we wouldn’t have otherwise done. Being a Hindu, I would never have known to bow down at a Gurudwara or hang the Christmas stockings. Christmas. It is somehow a very special festival. We got wrapped gifts. I got to do what I loved best in household work at that age — bake. And Santa was a dear friend’s father, usually (at every different posting, each new station).

My first memory of Christmas is looking under the community Christmas tree for a gift that had the brightest gift wrapping paper on it. If I remember right, I loved the ones with blue and silver diagonal stripes, or the ones with candy canes printed on them. The gifts weren’t named, of course, because there were so many children. There was no way for giving customised gifts unless the organisers were resourceful enough to employ elves, which, I am certain, they weren’t. But they were generous in their choice of gift wrappers, and I wasn’t complaining. Cotton was the customary substitute for snow. It was strewn on any tree of choice that served as The Tree of the Evening, fairy lights glittered on it and around. And  the manger scene on the side was never forgotten. Thoughtful people added a lot of toy cows and calves on the straw. I loved the eyes of these animal dolls (many had pink cheeks, somehow). I loved the smell of straw. I loved Christmas. And before I forget,  I loved the confetti. It was a mixture of straw and confetti on the floor, usually.

My first memory of caroling is of a much older me. The second school at which I taught had a British heritage. Besides many other things, they caroled on Christmas Eve. This is by far the winner in my list of Thank-Someone-I-Worked-In-This-School. The old tradition  (the school was founded in 1837) was to walk around the campus and come into the School Chapel to sing more. By the time they got around to employing me, the carols were just sung inside the Chapel. Another tradition that remained intact was that  it was the teachers who sang. We were green carolers, most of us. But Val did a good job in training us.  And she included some songs as well. We sang. And swayed. And loved it. We shone those nights. This is where I first got introduced to White Christmas. To aid us in understanding  the ‘feel’ of it (as a musician friend put it), she made us listen to Frank Sinatra’s rendition (or could’ve been someone else. But not Bing Crosby). This song transported me to new worlds. Of white blankets of snow. Most of all, for some strange reason, eyelashes full of snow flakes. The voice haunted me with the dream of a childhood that had seen snow, but never snow fall.  I remember un-snowing strawberries at a place we were visiting. Snow had visited just the previous night. We  were left with the reminders. It was many years later that I could reach the town (another one) in time for her arrival.

White Christmas is probably so important because when I imagine white snow with green, and red things and yellow lights, I can, in a way, live those fairy tales I read as a child. It is such a magical feeling. Unlike many people whom I’ve subsequently heard talking of waking up to a white day on Christmas, I imagined myself standing next to a Christmas tree, wearing a green scarf, seeping it all in. And lo! There’s snow. Falling down on everything, everything holding on to it like a sheath of happiness. Everything including my eyelashes. Soon, there’s White Christmas like no other. The vision is just a thought now, but it is a dreamy, magical one.

Snow obliged me at my husband’s home town, never fear. It wasn’t Christmas, but I can boast a new-found joy. Of having seen the flakes glide down, so carefree, so sure they’ll find just the right spot to rest. Beautiful.

I will wait for the day it snows on Christmas day at the place I live in. Wherever I am at the time. For I will not travel for the experience. It will have to come to me. Like the joy of seeing calf dolls with pink cheeks.

Like the Green Eyes, too. As lil’ Priya, I was sure I would wake up one day, look at the mirror, and see that my eyes had turned green.  Every morning, I’d go and stand in front of the mirror with my eyes closed and open them with the hope that the eyes had turned green. They never did, of course. But I never stopped hoping for it either. Not wishing, but hoping. I enjoyed my daily morning ritual for a number of years. Until I forgot to look in the mirror for them.


16 thoughts on “Dreaming of a White Christmas, and Green Eyes”

  1. I think it’s wonderful that you had the opportunity to celebrate so many different traditions. Your comment about the wrapping paper was a flash back for me. As a young child, I remember admiring the gift wrap, if only for a few seconds before tearing it off! But it added to the wonder and magic of Christmas.

    I love that, while reading about your hopes for a White Christmas, there are WordPress snowflakes falling on your blog!

    Green eyes are beautiful. I always hope I’ll wake up and have curly hair!

    Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

    1. Hey AA!

      You dream of waking up with curly hair? Wow. I thought I’d never find a kindred spirit. People usually laugh off such ‘illogical’ dreams. But who’s to stop us, right? 😉

      The WordPress snowflakes do somehow make my reveries seem a little more achievable. 🙂 I’ve decided to keep them until I post another one.

      Wishing you and yours a lovely time this season, too!

      1. The eyes are always greener and the hair is always curlier on the other side! 🙂

        A co-worker and I were grumbling about the cold weather yesterday, but saying it would be so much more tolerable if there was snow on the ground or in the air. It’s so beautiful (well, maybe not when I’m cleaning it off my car). Your snowflakes are the part I like most about snow.

      2. Didn’t know how to post a reply to yours. Don’t even know if this’ll reach you.

        How true about better pastures beyond the boundaries. I remember a magazine ad showing two (supposedly) best friends sitting together, sipping coffee (or hot chocolate), one with poker straight hair and the other with medusa-like curls. Each had a thought bubble “Wish I had hair like hers.” Ads can teach sometimes.

        Like snow for me and sun for those who’ve not seen it in years. It’s no surprise love songs from the west talk of ‘her sunny smile’ whereas those from my part of the world say ‘her hair billowing like rain clouds.” 😀

  2. This is a beautiful essay, full of wonderful images — both real and imagined. I especially liked this line:

    “…having seen the flakes glide down, so carefree, so sure they’ll find just the right spot to rest.”

    I hope you get to celebrate as many of the holidays as you can, and that they’re all as wonderful as this post.

    1. You’re so right, Richard! We tend to lose the magic of life as we grow up. But then the responsibilities increase, too. I am sure you didn’t have to drive in multiple-feet of snow as a kid!

      Thank you for using the word ‘magical’. That’s precisely how I feel about the whole thing.

  3. I’m with you on snow at Christmas, but if I’d ever woken up with green eyes I think I’d have freaked out! lol I was an Air Force kid myself, but seeing how other cultures celebrated the holidays was something I didn’t get to see. My earliest memory of Christmas was in Japan when I was 4 or 5, with the metal tree and the revolving colored lights shining against it and Mom playing the Chipmunks Christmas album over and over; I loved that. But it was on the base, so I have no idea how the Japanese celebrated it while I was there.

    1. 😀 Yeah. I can imagine the fright for a person who’s not been hoping for it!
      Thanks for coming over and reading and commenting and letting me know a bit more about you.
      I hope my secret hope for green eyes hasn’t frightened you for my sanity! 😉

  4. I love that you wanted green eyes! I used to wish for all sorts of things when I was a kid, including smaller ears and jet black hair with a rainbow in it! *grins*

    We didn’t celebrate Christmas at all when I was a child, my mother wouldn’t allow it as we’re Jewish, but I did manage to get my way up to a point. She let me, at some stage, have a tiny silver-tinsel Christmas tree (it was only about 6 inches high) and I got a little box of foil baubles for it, pink and silver and, do you know – I’ve been thinking about them so much in the past few years that I have an absolutely obsessive craving for them! But they are long gone… probably relegated to a dustbin as the foil began wearing off. I had one Christmas in hospital as a child. I shall blog about that sometime, if I haven’t already. (I am beginning to forget what I’ve posted about!)

    How nice to be able to understand and to some extent join in others’ festivals. That’s quite unusual, I think.

  5. The rainbow will be well offset against the jet black hair! Great choice.

    Yes, I do feel it is a privilege to be able to see and experience the things that give joys to communities, even if these communities are our own creation for making things a little more complicated for everyone!

    Hope you get the baubles the next time. Indulging such cravings can be a blessing, undisguised at that!

  6. Priya, no wonder you are the world traveling blogger! I suspect you have a very inclusive heart. You were exposed to all sorts of cultures. I share that with you. As a child I had homes to visit that represented many European countries. I loved it. It gave me a very clear understanding that our little world was only a small part of a much bigger one.

    Happy New Year, my new friend.

    1. It is so important, is it not? To know that the world you think is the entire existence, is actually not?! When, as a child, I heard our spiritual scriptures warning about the vagaries of a solely self-inclusive life, I used to laugh at them. Now, as I grow older (and hopefully wiser than the girl I was last year), I have begun to vaguely understand the importance of knowing at one is just a very small part of a whole.

      You certainly seem to have had enough experiences and insights into this matter, Amy! I consider it a privilege, too, to have had the opportunity to know other worlds.

      And have a great year, yourself! I like the fact that I can include you in my list of new friends. I like dippers exploring souls!

  7. aah priya..now i know why i feel a connect with you…its the fauji connect:))and you brought back the happiest childhood memories and a big smile…am an airforce brat and till i studied in the big bad world of bombay i had no clue about caste,religion etc being an issue…i was 14 when i was left to study in a non kv school..i was taken aback with kids discussing religion…hmmm…what a sheltered and happy life the camp life was ..naa

    1. Life in the cantt was fun, convenient, and the most wholesome thing a child could ever get. I was 14 when I moved out of a cantt setup, too. And it astonished me to see a totally different world.

      Were you ever in Ambala? It has a big AF base! We were there for 3 years and I was in KV Patel Park.

      Such fun to find a person from the same world!

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