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Updated: December 19, 2011 15:21 IST

The gift goes on

SELINE AUGUSTINE
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The kids could barely sit through the Christmas service. Their mind was on the gifts under the tree!

Renu and Vasanth were excited as the Christmas holidays had begun. Carols filled the air. Their cousins Dipti and Rohit had come from Tirunelveli to spend the Christmas vacation with them. The four of them had gone on carol rounds, with the church youth choir the previous night. Oh what fun it was to pull on the woollies and knock on friends' homes at midnight and greet them with lively carols. And the goodies they'd gorged on — besides the ubiquitous plum cake, there was cookies, kalkals and cutlets. There seemed to be goodwill and cheer in the very air they breathed in.

Mom called out, “Vasanth, please help Dad to get the Christmas tree down.” The kids dusted the artificial evergreen tree and began to set it up. Dipti's stared at the six foot tall tree. Out came the ornaments and baubles to be strung on the tree. The beautiful blue fairy lights came on and the twinkle in her eye got merrier.

“Uncle, why do we decorate the tree with lights?” she asked. “It is to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. Before the days of electricity, candles were used. And like the candle which gives of itself to light up the world, Jesus took our place and gave his life for us to free us from all wrong,”

Vasanth was busy with the balloons. The red and green balloons were tied to the branches. Renu wondered if they signified something about the birthday of Jesus. Dad, now is he a mind-reader, said, “If you think it's just air inside the balloon, you are mistaken. It is to remind us how God created man, remember the story of Adam and Eve, how He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. More important, He made us in His likeness. Gosh! what a privilege.”

The star atop the tree, Dad said, takes you back to the visit of the three kings, Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar, to the place where Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Pine cones, ornaments in the shape of bells and Santa were also hung on the tree.

It was time to go to bed. They had to wakeup early, as the service at dawn would find the church overflowing with the faithful. At church they could barely concentrate on the sermon. No sooner did they return home than they ran to the Christmas tree to collect their presents neatly piled up beneath it.

Renu took one look at Dipti's gift and began to wail: “Her Teddy is bigger.” Rohit for his part began to squabble with Vasanth, “Give me your toy. I'm sure uncle meant to give the better one to me.” On hearing the commotion, Mom came out to investigate. She heard them out and said, “You're forgetting that today, December 25, we're celebrating the birthday of Jesus who taught us to care and share and not crib and compare. Yes, baby Jesus is the greatest gift God gave us and the Gift goes on as we sing, “The Father gave the Son, The Son gave the Spirit, The Spirit gives us life, So we can give the gift of love...

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