Fred Claus

The little boy was more confused than ever before,
Surely a festival must mean something more,
What his grandpa said, seemed to make little sense,
It seemed like something badly conjured up in defence.

So he went back to nagging the exasperated old man,
On this eccentricity that was celebrated only by man,
But this time, he decided he would do all the talk,
He only hoped, the old man wouldn’t fall back in shock.

“Why is it, that people spend the year, yelling at each other”,
“And finally choose a day to treat one other like a brother?”,
“Why is it, that people put up with a year full of abuse”,
“And take comfort in having a day, to praise each other profuse?”.

“Why do they live every moment for themselves, without relent”,
“Thinking one day is enough, to chant a prayer and repent?”,
“Why do they spend a year, closing the door on their neighbour”,
“Knowing they can invite them in, just in time for any dinner?”.

“Why do they shout at their crying parents, every single day”,
“Hoping, that decorating a tree together, will make those words go away?”,
“Why do they teach their children, to run the entire year in a hurry”,
“Wishing, that opening some gift, would wipe away every worry?”.

“Why do they think, a single sorry can soothe a year full of hurt”,
“Believing, that lighting a candle, is enough recognition of effort?”,
The old man was too puzzled, to notice the boy short of breath,
And only let out a sigh, because the boy regained his breath.

“Why can’t they just be nice, every day of the year”,
“And try to prevent, instead of wiping each tear?”,
“Why can’t they cherish every moment along the way”,
“Instead of dying the whole year, to live for just one day?”.

This one is obviously for the Mirror, since it is a continuation of Rudolf. This one reflects my actual views on festivals/celebration. So lets move on to the usual questions.

a) What’s with the title?
The title is from a movie of the same name, about Santa’s brother, who goes to the North Pole and saves the day for Santa and the entire world.

b) Why two poems?
The concept is too strong to finish within one poem without diminishing all of its essence into shortened sentences. The poem could have been double my usual length, but that would deny supporters of the festival with a poem. So splitting keeps both parties happy. Those who like festivals can read the first, and those who don’t can read only the second one. Besides, while the first one seems in support of celebration, it is actually a sly representation of the views that are debated in the second one. It helps to glorify the adversary in order to magnify the victory.

c) What is it about festivals/celebration that pisses me off?
The very words and what they signify. Take for example some thing like birthdays, which celebrate nothing significant. You being born is merely a statistical event that is by itself insignificant. But Happy Birthday is a festival of depression-era origins, when people needed some thing to make them feel alive atleast for one day, and bakers cashed in on the opportunity. Also read my favourite article on the topic.

It pains me to see that we fail to realise that most festivals are effectively celebrations of life and our thanks to our maker (whoever he/she is) for blessing us with whatever we have on that day. Knowing this fact about festivals, we fail to realise that celebrating them on that one day, makes us relive the Depression-days, by indirectly stating that there is only one day a year when we forcibly choose to be happy, even if we aren’t. Reminds me of one of my favourite sayings:
Perhaps this is why it is man alone who laughs: he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Why is it that we can’t simply celebrate each day of our lives, for its ups and downs. Why do we feel that only a cake completes celebration? Or that only decorating the house, completes a festival? Why do we have to shout at our parent/children every day and then make up with them for the sake of a festival? Why do we have to abuse our friends every day and then wish them a Happy Birthday? Is it not possible to be nice to everyone everyday?

Of course, some people are downright nasty and deserve a dose of their own medicine, right? If you feel like retorting to someone because they aren’t nice, then you’re allowing their worthlessness dictate to your politeness, which makes you no different from them. if you really want to see the difference, be polite and nice to everybody no matter what, and see the difference after maybe a year or a decade. Most often people aren’t nice to you on that day or that year, because nobody has been nice to them that day/year. Waiting for the other person to change is only going to ensure everyone does the same, and we are left with status quo.

If you really want to see a change in the world, be the one to lead it, rather than follow, since nobody else is going to lead. Try it today, throw a party to the person who has just slapped you, and see his/her reaction. Shake the hand of a person who has just abused you, and see their reaction. If not today, their reaction will change over time. Of course, initially everyone will look at you like a lunatic, but atleast its better to be a happy lunatic, than a depressed conformist. People treat those who stand out as lunatics because they are insecure about their own conformity. Once the tide slowly switches and you become the mainstream, they will look at their previous beliefs as lunacy, that’s people for you.

So, i hope you understand, why i care not even a damn for any festival, and why i am not reachable on my birthday. its time to end the practice of living for one day in a year, and start living every moment of life.

P.S.

The whole Rudolf carol is anti-celebration. Because the problem Rudolf is facing is being an outcast. So taking him away from the reindeer and making him a celebrity among humans, is like taking a cat rejected by other cats, and making him an exalted exhibit among dogs, and expecting the cat to be happy because of the miracle of the festive spirit. A true miracle would have been if the other reindeer had welcomed him into their fold because of the Christmas spirit, and not humans cheering him on.

I would like to end with a relevant line from ‘Sirivennela Sahityam’:
“Padhuguru soukhyam pondhe diname panduga kadha?”
“Is not the day, when a dozen people find solace and relief, a festival?”

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Rudolf

All around him, the houses abounded with festoons and bunting,
And from every roof, miniature bells and stars were hanging,
He had seen all this for quite some years now,
But had never understood the significance of it somehow.

All he knew, was that people greeted each other with an extra large smile,
The same people, who couldn’t stand each other’s company, even for a while,
Suddenly everybody had woken up, to a word called share,
And the most popular catchword of the season, was the word ‘care’.

He pondered long, before asking his grandfather about it,
What is the meaning of the festive season, and the Christmas spirit?”,
First surprised, then amused, he put the little boy on his lap,
He tried to explain in kidspeak, about Santa and his burlap.

He said, “Christmas is a time when people do some soul-cleaning,
A time when they try giving sorry more than just a meaning,
A time when people take the time to remember their near and dear,
And recollect with each other the hurrahs and regrets of the year”.

“Christmas is the time for people to sit back and think,
About how often from the cup of happiness they could drink,
It’s the time they evaluate the purpose for which they live,
It’s the time people relearn to give, and to forgive”.

“But why do they have to keep it all for the year-end?”,
Asked the little boy, still not able to fully comprehend,
And why do you try to be extra nice to me, for one day?“,
This time, it was the old man who didn’t know what to say.

“You will understand some day, when your existence becomes stagnant”,
Said the old man, as if reading aloud from a sacred covenant,
“Your life will become wretched enough, to force you to pray”,
“That God make you feel special, atleast for one single day”.

This one is for the Mirror. It is the first in a two-part series on my beliefs on celebration. What is it exactly about celebration that pisses me off? That is some thing that will have to be answered only in the next poem. For now, here are the answers to the other obvious questions.

a) Why Christmas?
Well, it could have been anything else reall, like Dusshera, Sankranthi, Ramzan, or something. I chose Christmas because of the wider connect it has to audiences across the world. But fundamentally, most celebrations/festivities and their underlying reasons are the same.

b) What’s with the title?
The title is derived from a carol, about Rudolf the reindeer. How he was a loner, and rejected by all his peers, and then it was Christmas time and Santa came along and made him an offer, and sunndely he was the toast of town. The carol hopes to impress upon the listener the healing/unifying powet of the Christmas. To me, that is the best example someone can give for having a festival, and hence the title.

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