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It's the most wonderful time of the year

I can't get this song out of my head since I watched my favorite Christmas movie, Home Alone 2, on Friday. I don't really know why, but Christmas has always been my favorite festival. It's not really because I'm partly "Christian", or even that we celebrated it lavishly - or even celebrated it at all. Maybe it's because the spirit of the festival is so exciting to a child, all the norms and rituals associated with it that you read about in Enid Blytons or Charles Dickens or Harry Potters just make it a wonderful experience - even if you haven't really experienced it. India being India always has had Santa Claus in the marketplace and Christmas trees - usually the artificial miniatures, but Christmas trees nonetheless, to delight the imagination of any child.

Now, of course, times are a-changing and Christmas is a big deal to everyone. Nothing like London or New York, the city won't shut down completely, but you will find a gargantuan crystal tree at Select Citywalk, a gargantuan fir at Promenade, at least a small one in most homes and Archies' cards never sold out more quickly. Everyone seemed to want to be out and about on the day, crowding malls and clogging roads, but in spite of them. I, for example, blatantly ignored the thermometer - the mercury was suspiciously above the normal body temperature and I was coughing all over the place, but Christmas was not to be compromised.

Having slept at 5 am on Christmas morning, owing to Santa's arrival, waking up in the morning afternoon was no mean feat. Mum told me our tree looked lovely in the sunlight and I should really go take a look, so I traipsed off bleary-eyed and frizzy-haired to satisfy her. And I found presents! Under the tree! This had never happened before!

I was very late for my lunch date with the girls - our usual trio this time also included a dear friend from school who I fondly remember calling to ask for help with Math problems and who we haven't seen once since we left school. Her rather gory med school tales of breaking ribs with a hammer to get inside were a distraction from the Christmas spirit...

Presents were exchanged and the table in the drawing room was adorned with cards, one arriving all the way from Athens, and the tree stood small and sparkly, and music was blasted from the speakers and tea was drunk, and the dining out dream ended when no table was to be found. But we brought home a sumptuous meal and ate in the comfort of heaters and conversation. And my midnight book surprised me with a chapter devoted to the most wonderful Christmas you could ever imagine, leaving me warm and fuzzy and happy and Christmassy.

I freakin' love Christmas.