‘You’re enthusiastic, but you kinda don’t know too much. Let’s see what happens now,’ the fifteen year-old video game enthusiast I was trying to be sociable with said, ‘done with [my] lameness.’ He had been forced to my house as his own house was locked, his parents being gone on an impromptu outing. Indeed, I kinda knew nothing about the game he was trying to play, which is probably evident by my usage of the phrase ‘video game enthusiast.’ What I did know about was Christmas – I’m a ‘Christmas enthusiast.’ I had an entire planner dedicated to having the best Christmas possible, complete with an 8 am to 10 pm schedule of Christmas Eve, which included inane things like 8 am – drink tea, what-is-wrong-with-you things like 9:30 am – put tinsel on tree, and extra enthusiastic things like 9 pm – force parents to listen to Christmas carols (this ended up not happening).
I can’t quite pinpoint when my fascination with Christmas began. It wasn’t religious. Maybe it was the fact that the society I lived in celebrated Christmas with an enthusiasm that made me look like Darth Vader, involving a reluctant Uncle forced into a stuffy Santa Claus outfit who would proceed through the building distributing toffees, followed by a gaggle of children who would attack the toffee-distributor in scenes reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies. Said children would then be forced into uncomfortable costumes and dance to either Ganpati hymns or Sheila ki Jawaani. There was no in-between. These little monsters also made sleep impossible for the building by practising ‘A Parthridge in a Peal Tlee’ and other Christmas carols at the top of their lisping voices in the afternoon.
I was the most enthusiastic of these Jacks and Ralphs, and I loved all of this. I also loved the sense of anticipation of gifts, both giving and receiving, the decorations, the lights (aesthetic before it was cool), and the cakes. Christmas seemed like an amalgamation of my favourite sins – gluttony, sloth, and covetousness, wrapped up in socially acceptable fairy lights. I revelled in these sins, and callously gave little thought to the birth of Christ. Now, looking at the teenager slouching on my sofa, it is hard to reconcile his current hunched posture and social disdain that seems borrowed from a ‘Cliché Teenager Traits’ listicle to the little fellow who threw a sparkly purple shirt with panache at the audience, gyrating to Hud Hud Dabangg (evocative of the true Christmas spirit). Anticipating his disgust at my no-chill activities, I settled down with my box of decorations in front of the Christmas tree. Sure enough, the bemused question came, ‘What are you doing bro?’ I said, with a degree of shame that I was decorating. ‘You’re doing it all wrong, he said. And then, in a moment of true glorious magic-of-Christmas, this model of neighbourly apathy sat down next to me and proceeded to decorate the tree, and then the room with me, the beauty of the moment marred only by an occasional ‘snowmen have snowballs’ type of joke.
Planning, for me, is an act born of anxiety. Anxiety about not being able to accomplish what I want to, but also anxiety about not being able to control what lies ahead. By putting down words in a square designated box I manage to tell myself that everything that seems to be spiralling out of control can be hammered neatly back into shape (it has been established earlier that I have no chill). I plan not only for possible crises, but also for good things, for fun. But you can plan your little heart out, but more often than not, life will not go according to plan. My life thus far seems like a series of fully-planned, half-finished projects. Maybe on the threshold of the Time of Resolutions, I can resolve to accept that this is the beginning, and all I can do is go ahead one step at a time. The best moments, like a headphone-toting neighbour arguing with you about candy cane ornaments, can’t be planned anyway. So I start writing, ‘I’m enthusiastic and I kinda don’t know too much. Let’s see what happens now.’
Happy New Year (a month late, because who believes in dates and all that), to everyone!
Written by Anushmita Mohanty
Image by Kanishka Zico