Next morning I found a yellow cloth doll with a pixie head and a plastic face peeping from the top of the sock. I was thrilled that Father Christmas had come all the way to my room. I had a doll named Bella that my father had given as a gift, so I named its companion, the yellow doll, Yella.
I played with Bella and Yella, and the next Christmas I hung up the sock again. And the next morning there was a Johnson & Johnson pink and blue striped tiffin-like tin box with soap, cream, and talcum powder set inside it. I still get the soft soapy aroma of that box in my nose today.
I was probably 10 when the Christmas bubble burst. I had put up my sock again but my mother probably did not have time to shop for a present. What I found inside the sock on Christmas morning was the glass bottle of ointment (with a chipped glass cap) that used to be in the showcase in my parent’s room. Dreams were shattered along with the broken glass cap. Christmas fizzled out after that.
It sparked again years later when I was in the US for my masters, and my three children had come over for a visit during the holidays. At their request we put up a Christmas tree, tinsels, twinkling lights, presents, enjoying the whole process along with them, and probably finally living up to my childhood dreams too.
But the feather in my Christmas cap came when I was with UNICEF Nepal and arranging a Christmas party for colleagues and their children. My dream of Santa Claus visiting me was exchanged for dressing up twice, not as Santa, but the female version Santi – with white curly locks, carrying a jute sack full of gifts and draped in a red sari with white edging of surgical cotton that I had hurriedly stitched the night before.
Merry Christmas. हो! हो! हो!
Read also: Ghosts of Christmas past, Lisa Choegyal