There is an awesome benefit of great relationship experiences; they gently remind you of life’s most important values. Without coercion, force, or intimidation, something happens at the core of our souls.
Christmas 1971 was not particularly noteworthy, at least at the beginning. The family was struggling to make ends meet while living in South India. Rich and I were home from boarding school, Howard was dealing with school, mostly on his own, and our parents were trying to keep hope alive and the bills paid.
We didn’t have a lot of money, not that it mattered. The shops on Brigade and Commercial Streets seemed to have the same old stuff. It was almost as if the holiday spirit has left on holiday. From a kid’s perspective, there wasn’t much to hope for or buy that year in Bangalore.
We decided to go shopping anyways. We were looking for the perfect gift; something that had someone’s name on it and didn’t cost a lot of money. As time went on and success seemed more and more elusive, our quest began to take on a passionate pitch. Our resolution began an intensive compulsion. We were going to find the gift. We were going to celebrate Christmas. We were going to embrace everything Santa Claus stood for.
Dad played down our hopes. He reminded us of how many “things” we already had, especially compared to the kids hanging around outside the shops we frequented. “There may not be much,” was his frequent reminder.
In an obscure shop on M.G. Road we found our prize. The special gift was two art sculptures made of paper mache, mud, and vegetable paints. The faces were incredible! They captured the emotions of the people and culture we loved. I still wonder about the artist. Who was he or she? Where did he/she come from? What was his/her story?
I still don’t know. I do know Christmas 1971 reminds me of the best things holidays offer; family, love, and a incredible sense of belonging.
“‘Comfort, oh comfort my people,’ says your God.” (Isaiah 40.1)
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