If you’ve seen one Santa, you’ve seen a mall – Anonymous punster of the executable  kind

The Christmas lights along Orchard Road in Singapore go up in mid-November and, as they cost around S$2 million, are as festive as it gets but not so bright as to encourage planes to land. 

But it does the trick and almost everyone walking down the road is smiling: the season does that to you, don’t you think? 

I had no idea about all that before as I’d been raised a Hindu. Then I met Rebecca when I was 21 and began viewing it through her eyes.

But it really only began to have meaning for me when  Raisa came along. There is nothing like the joy in a child’s eyes on Christmas morn to buttress the point about giving and the spirit of Christmas. 

“I told you he reads all our letters,” she’d inform me loftily and, as always, we’d feign astonishment, delighting in her innocence.

Indeed, Raisa went on believing in Santa right up to age 7 when a cousin, embittered by a bah-humbug priest, who, during midnight Mass, thought nothing about ruining the innocent fancies of children, felt compelled  to share his horrified knowledge  with Raisa. 

Which was how my daughter discovered that Santa was actually an Indian; even, occasionally, Eurasian. 

When we are all together it’s generally a time of bad jokes. Mostly mine, I confess. 

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Mary who?
Merry Christmas

Knock. Knock
Who’s there
Anna who?
And a Happy New Year
(mine, I think)

What goes Oh-oh-oh?
Santa walking backwards

Unlike us, Rebecca doesn’t tell bad jokes but she obligingly laughs at all of ours. 

I remember Christmas in New York with my wife and I witnessing our first snowfall. The thrill of it made us feel like children all over again.  

My younger brother, who has settled down in  Connecticut, isn’t as enthused. He sent me  pictures of his garage after Hurricane Sandy: the snow had piled up so thickly that it completely obstructed the garage door. 

That’s why we generally prefer Christmas at home. It helps that December is probably the coolest month of the year which gives some added relevance to the occasion. 

It’s about trimming the tree amidst the smell of pineapple tarts and carols on the stereo.

It’s about  dressing up for church, family singalongs in harmony to accompanying guitars and beer or mulled wine for the thirsty musicians – they generally are.  

But mostly it’s about family which makes this year especially memorable. It will be the first time we will spend Christmas with Raisa since 2019: the pandemic made sure of that. 

It will also be the first time we spend the holidays in Europe, specifically in Southern Portugal where it’s the off-peak season and there are bargains galore to be had. 

Moreover,  the temperatures over there, if Google is to be believed, range from 13 to 18 degrees. 

In the interim, have a Blessed Christmas and a Joyous New Year folks.