I shiver in the depressing Boston cold. Trudging through the snow, icy wind lacerating my face, I curse my logistical misfortune.

Oh, Christmastime.

I always manage to end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Back home in New Delhi, India, everyone anxiously awaits the cool, temperate winter season that relieves the blistering summer heat. That's where I should be.

But no, here I am, existing miserably in what seems like a sub-arctic clime. And the annoying thing is, everyone here appears to be quite pleased with the general situation.

Why? Because it is a happy season, a season for exchanging gifts, (even if that gift happens to be you having whipped cream licked off your face by a whip-wielding, handcuff-happy stranger dressed in black leather--an example of one from Kirkland House Secret Santa) a season that, political correctness aside, will, to the average foreign student, always be the "Christmas Season."


Some people have asked me if I find the mass American hysteria over Christmas rather odd, assuming that such an obsession is peculiar to the "materialistic" culture of the U.S.

Despite popular perception, though, Christmas is celebrated on a reasonably large scale in many countries where the Christian population is relatively small.

In India, where Christians compose one percent of the population (which is one percent of nearly 900 million), December in an urban setting is probably as festive a month as it is here.

You see the same holiday shopping sales, the same special offers, attend the same Christmas parties and sing the same carols. And everyone--Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian alike--celebrates together, viewing the festival in a somewhat secular light.

Just the other day, a friend of mine was telling me about a Christmas check of $500 that his parents sent him. "That's pretty good," he said, "considering I'm Muslim!"

So Christmas is becoming more and more of an international festival, especially for us post-British colonial wretches.

If nothing else, I am sure all of us (this, of course, includes us heathens) avail of this hyped-up season to aggrandize our material possessions. We are certainly great supporters of the wonderful, generous spirit of gift-giving. In other words, materialism knows no cultural bounds.

Truly, a magnificent cause for celebration.

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