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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)

Christmas Day in India

page 26

Christmas Day in India

“A Merry Christmas”

Outside, in the compound, the night's frost is still lying white and thickly, for the sun has not yet arisen; it is only a little after five o'clock. The day is full of promise, a promise of sun-gold and glory, for the second monsoon has long since passed along its way.

Even now, early as it is, numerous bands are busy playing “their” Christmas Carols—all play the one tune, “Queen, Queen Caroline,” but who cares? To-day is that of “Peace on the Earth, Goodwill to Man,” and the native bandsmen are demanding their right to participate—who shall deny them? At the bottom of it all is magic “buksheesh”—why not? Today is the “Sahib Logue's great day of rejoicing—their Day of Days.”

All last week the servants had spent much time in their preparation for decorative effect—bouquets and garlands are artistically arranged throughout the bungalow—festoons of crimson and green poinsettia leaves, alternately, gaily drape and brighten the walls—hang in beautifully quaint designs across the porches and gateways. The servants have all got their little gifts for the “Baba Logue” and are eager to distribute these, to be the first to give—such is the wonderful spirit of Christmas.

“A Merry Christmas!”

How many “grown-ups'” memories are fleeting back to the days and scenes of their childhood this morning?—a snow-clad earth—crimson daybreak—log fires blazing merrily in open hearths—holly, mistletoe, laughter—faces, love-lit, recalled they may never see again. They are exiles in a foreign land, counting the days—nay, the hours—to next “furlough” that will enable them once more to visit the “Mecca” of their hopes—“Home.” These are the outriders of empyrean greatness—members of the greatest Empire the world has ever yet known—sons and daughters of the “Great Mother,” Britain, fulfilling their birthright. To-Day, Christmas Day, is theirs—To-Morrow will belong to Empire.

“A Merry Christmas!”

Christmas Day is essentially, and above all others, “Children's Day.” Not for long will these remain as “Children,” soon the “Great Mother” will call to them—they will not be found wanting, but ready to take up the burden of their glorious inheritance—Empire.

“A Merry Christmas!”

A sleepy father stirs in bed; then, rolls over, intending to have another “forty winks.” Next moment he is wide awake, he has heard the strains of “Queen, Queen Caroline,” and suddenly remembered this is Christmas Day.

“Dear me,” he thinks, “here is Christmas again, how the time does fly, it does not seem like twelve months gone by so soon.”

His train of thought is sharply broken—a sudden flurry across the room—a cuddling form hurtles alongside him—a pair of softly clinging arms are around his neck—he is peremptorily kissed—a tiny voice lisps “A Merwy Krismiss, see w'at Farver Santy has gived me?”

Eyes, still dusked with sleep, beam into his from beneath a mop of rumply, curly hair—a pair of rosy, dewy lips smile in deep content while dimpled arms and hands hold up “Muver's” biggest stocking—it had demanded careful selection too—filled to the brim by “Darling Santa Claus.”

How many sleep-laden eyes had striven to keep open so as to catch “Santy” in the act—how many sharp ears had listened in vain for his arrival last night? The “Dustman's knock” had prevailed—“Santy” had come and gone un-caught again.

There is the “Christmas Tree,” resplendent in every variety of toys. Mother spent hours decorating it correctly—watched by brilliantly expectant eyes whose owners thought intricate thoughts and built those grand “castles in the air” that are the absolute prerogative of childhood. Nothing that it is possible to obtain has been overlooked—“holly” brought down from Darjiling or Simla—“mistletoe” from Mussoorie or Naini Tal—apples that were grown in Afghanistan. All that can be has been done to make it as like to Christmas at “Home” as is possible.

“A Merry Christmas!”

There comes the postman. Oh, what delight. Children rush to greet him with shricks of merriment, at every bungalow. “Postie's” face is wreathed in smiles of reciprocity—he knows page 27 the warm reception awaiting him—he is a partner in the joy of the “Baba Logue”—the carrier of their treasures—he even knows the names of the “Miss-babas” and the “Chota-sahibs”—to the best known he will even essay “Merry Krismiss.”

The tables are laden with cakes of every variety; the king of these is “Mother's Christmas Cake,” the cake in the making of which all were allowed to assist—so long as they kept whistling. To-night will come the best fun of it all—the “blazing plum pudding” and “snap-dragon”—the dodging of the “mistletoe-forfeit.” Father will surely tell them some lovely stories too—stories of “fairies” and “goblins”—and these will surely come sneaking and prowling among the dark shadows in the corners again, but unable to do any hurt—father and mother will be present.

Last night—Christmas Eve—the children had been permitted to stay up late. The larger “European Stores” had arranged a carnival for them, and thousands of invitations were issued. The grounds were beautifully laid out to represent fairy dells, grottoes, woods, and the like. Countless Chinese lanterns swung through the scene merrily, lending
Luxury In The Wilds Of Tongariro National Park. (Rly. Publicity Photo.) The Chateau Tongariro (officially opened on 4th November, 1929), shewing the fine view of the active volcano, Mt. Ngauruhoe (7,515ft.), to be obtained from the portico of the building.

Luxury In The Wilds Of Tongariro National Park.
(Rly. Publicity Photo.)
The Chateau Tongariro (officially opened on 4th November, 1929), shewing the fine view of the active volcano, Mt. Ngauruhoe (7,515ft.), to be obtained from the portico of the building.

themselves to its enhancement, nodding an invitation to the guests to enjoy themselves. “Santa Clauses,” make-believe ones of course, with rosy cheeks and flowing white beards, appeared mysteriously and suddenly from most unexpected nooks. They were laden with gifts to be lavishly distributed. It was a scene of undiluted merriment filled with the music of children's happy laughter and voices.

There were “lucky-dips” to be tried out, roulette wheels to be spun—all prizes and no blanks. Rose scented fountains sparkled and played everywhere under the brilliant illuminations; military bands, lent for the occasion, added their quota of music to the revelry of the night. From this jubilation the “little ones” had departed for their homes cuddling their presents; happy, contented, heavy with sleep to keep watch against the arrival of their real “Santa Claus” via the “chimney route.”

“Queen, Queen Caroline.”

To Anglo-Indians this tune must ever be sacred, its memories and associations are imperishable. It represents a part of their lives—is a part of themselves.

“A Merry Christmas!”