Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tis A Gift To Be Simple . . .

The moment when Santa Claus arrives is the most anxiously awaited part of every Latika Vihar Christmas celebration. The children pretend to be cool and unconcerned:

but every single one of them is poised, hoping to be the first to spot him:

When he does arrive, it is pandemonium - every year, without fail. And every year the only way to restore order is for Santa to threaten to leave if everyone doesn't sit quietly and wait their turn. Yet, it is not difficult to understand the children's amazement at what is happening nor their concern that it could be over before their turn comes around.

I mean, here is this guy they have never met, walking around with a bag full of candy and gifts, and just handing it all out.

These are children who don't have much. They are not bone poor, but the current price of onions means their parents aren't buying them; they have one sweater or jacket each; the day it is washed is the day they shiver with the cold. And they know, better than most children, that good things run out quickly and that there is no reason to assume that they will be among the favored few who get whatever is going around.

Except at Latika Vihar. Even though they make no assumptions, have no sense of entitlement, at Latika Vihar, they are indeed the Chosen Ones.

 Child after child was called by name to meet Santa . . .

and their universal astonishment and delight was the perfect antidote to the jaded consumerism of the West where children have lists and expectations and suffer sad disappointment when things don't quite match their hopes and dreams.

It made me cry to see the looks on their faces, the disbelief that these shiny packages could really be theirs:

and though my American mind is already working feverishly to think of a way for next Christmas to bring them even shinier and more wonderful gifts, the lesson these children are teaching me is that more is not, in fact, more and that part of being overwhelmed and astonished lies in limits and simplicity.

Latika Vihar is about love and gratitude. It's really that simple. And that simplicity? A light to the nations.


shipra said...

The true Christmas spirit at a wonderful place....some of these children wait for the entire year to come on this day....Santa at Latika is as special as each child who comes here!

kavita said... pics....and its such a relief to see these smiling faces.... they are the ones who truely know how to celebrate each day with happiness..:)...