25/12/2015 8:39 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

A Christmas Challenge: What's The One Thing That Could Make You As Happy As A Child?

"How did it get so late so soon? It's night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness, how the time has flown! How did it get so late so soon?" - Dr Seuss

Right! Before you barely get used to the new digits at the end of the date, it's time to change it again. That time of the year is back. The time of the times, the month of the months!

Look! It's December, again!

December is a month of strange opposites! It is the time to do a stock-taking. To check, what we collected, achieved, or won. To see what we have let go. What do we take, what do we leave behind, what do we make of the year that will soon be left in the past.

Contrary to the rush it brings upon us, the hurry to wrap things up, December creeps up slowly. For me, it starts with a sheet of white across the glass frame of the door, one which goes from transparent to opaque as the calendar counts up. The fog... as if, the moon from the night has left its trail behind. As if, it is as unwilling to leave the sky as we are to leave the bed, the blanket.

It is the month of regrets and reassurances; it is the time to stock-take and let-go! While it is now time to look back, it is also the time to look forward.

As the day progresses, the early rays of the sun win! The sun marks its victory in bright spots in the air, arresting the grains of dust and reflecting upon them its seven hues in turn, piercing the way through the clouds and the mists.

"Mr. Sun, Mr. Sun, shine on me!" my little daughter sings to the sunlight, as we hurry her through the daily chores of cleaning up before school, and as she steals her own moments of wonder.

However, this time of the year is perhaps also a little about the child inside you, and as much as you are panicked by how fast the hands of the clock have started to rotate, a part of you still wishes, craves to hold on to the moment, just hold it a little more, a little more, before you have to step into reality, the series of activities that are lined up for the day. And you steal those last few moments to take a few clumsy, shawl-wrapped steps outside, into the balcony. You do it because you cannot help it, you cannot think of it any other way!

If you stop to notice, tiny frizzles, almost of the size of small salt crystals, shine back at you. The sun finally announces its arrival, and with it the fog melts into dewdrops, waiting to soon evaporate back into the air. The soft yet bright beams of white from the sky pierce through you, and they bring with them a kind of quiet festivity, a sense of peace flowing inside you, that can only perhaps be coupled with a hot, steaming selfish cup of coffee. You wrap your palms around it, trying to soak in the warmth like the roots of plants sap water from under the soil.

Ah, the smell! Oh, the moment!

On certain lucky days, and they come twice a week, you don't perhaps have to rush so much; on those days, you can possibly put the ticking clock inside your little head on snooze and indulge some more, a little more. And then, you can hear December!

Now, maybe it's because the ceiling fans and air-conditioners have suddenly gone silent, December indeed sounds different from the months that preceded it in the year. There's more to it though. As you brave the morning fog and mist and walk out to where there are trees, you'll hear something different, something very special. It's the time of year when they visit us. They travel across the seven seas, cross the continents and fly the hills, and they find their winter homes in the trees around us. There are not so many of them now, not with the ecological balance hanging by a thread, but you'll always find some, a few.

Why is it so difficult for me, for us, to think of that one thing that can make us happy, happy as a child?

Talking of sounds, if I was where I'm meant to be in my heart, this is the time of year where I'd be hearing church bells, the morning mass, the soft carols - filling the air with the kind of sanctity that transcends religion.

While we muse on the music that December brings with itself, we cannot escape, can we, the chitter-chatter of picnic gangs or children visiting the zoo, the incessant debates of colleagues and friends who cannot still decide over their Christmas holiday trips? Will it be the desert or the hills, forests or the seas...

Sounds, smells, sights ... and tastes. December is the time for fruit cakes, The smell of slightly burnt flour, the brown crust filled with dry fruits and dark chocolate chips, the silver of the aluminium foil, they all make up for the memory, the beauty and the nostalgia of Christmas and New Year's Eve.

So much for the sensory delights of December. The month has so many other sides to it, doesn't it? It is the month of regrets and reassurances; it is the time to stock-take and let-go! While it is now time to look back, it is also the time to look forward.

For one, it is the time for the annual performance appraisals in offices -- and there you go! List up achievements, gist up what you did and shove inside covers what you didn't, put up a broad smile and... yup! Good luck!

However, life is not just about our professional performances. December is perhaps a convenient time for us to stop and think, ponder upon what we want, where we are going, how far we have come. What went right, and what didn't, and... are we on the right track? What, if anything, would we want to change? What have we got, what do we want?

Oh really, what the hell do we want?

The other day, my little daughter was wondering aloud about what she wants from Santa Claus this year. Of course, her list keeps changing every time we bring this up, and each time I point out that she already has most of that she is asking for. I walk her to her toy cupboard, her book-shelf, her wardrobe. Remote control planes, princess stories, Lego sets, craft boxes, some thirty four types of animals (unicorns, sea-horses, penguins, porcupines, hippos....). I send her back to make a new list, hoping she'll ask for something I can give her already. But fed up of me, she bulldozes back: "Mum, okay, you tell me, what do you want from Santa Claus?"


I don't have a reply. I stop!

To be honest, I am still searching for an appropriate answer to her question. Really, what is that one thing that would make me happy, that would make me ask for no more, nothing else, at least for one good year? It's strange how these simple questions became so complicated, intimidating, haunting if I may...

Become your own Santa, search out that secret that you lost on your way, wrap it up, and gift yourself a happy day this Christmas -- will you?

What should I ask Santa to bring me? No, of course I'm not expecting a big bearded man to slide down the water pipe with a big wrapped present in the middle of the night. But for me, it is important to understand what it is that will make me happy, happy as a child.

It's so easy to draw up a list of New Year resolutions - joining the gym, cutting the flab, saving money, making trips, you name it! Why is it, then, so difficult for me, for us, to think of that one thing that can make us happy, happy as a child?

Do you have an answer?

This year, let us not break our little heads over New Year resolutions. Instead, let us find out the answer to this simple question -- what is that one thing that will make you happy, happy as a child?

Find your answer, and make yourself a gift this 25th. Become your own Santa, search out that secret that you lost on your way, wrap it up, and gift yourself a happy day this Christmas -- will you?

I leave you with this challenge today! And of course, a merry Christmas to all!!

This is an edited version of an article first posted here