After spending a few Christmases away from home I thought this year I might not miss it much. I was wrong. I pined for carols and you tube versions didn't hold a flame to the laughing giggling carolers who came by each year. Nor did it lessen my longing for choir practice where we struggled to stay faithful to what we were taught and experiment with twists during the breaks. I now understand a little better why mum and so many others break their backs baking cakes and goodies. I did my share this year. Cakes cookies etc more than what the three of us could do justice to and then baked more for colleagues!
While Christmas mass had long lost its charm ( I think the loss of charm coincided with my irritations for a certain parish priest) , I still wanted to step inside a church soak in the feel.
A colleagues suggestions on the churches in Secunderabad piqued my curiosity.
Nimesh and I hopped to a couple - St Mary's , Good News Baptist, CSI Diocese of Medak and finally the Spanish Mosque.
St Mary's was overflowing with people and the Mass was in progress. We sat for a bit and were leaving when the homily/sermon started. I stopped dead in my track when I heard the the pretty much atonal priest sing " Its only words and words are all I have ....." aieeeeee! He went on to address the puzzled congregation and draw links between the beaten to death Boyzone number and Jesus as " word becoming flesh"!
As much as the attempt seemed desperate and populist , I had to give it to him, he got my attention. This being in marked difference from the time I found my distance from church . I remember series of messages from the parish priests and the likes urging/demanding that we sing only "acceptable carols" and "conventional versions". What was puzzling was that as a choir we weren't even moderately experimental to start with. Wonder what got their knickers in knots? Another lot emphasized that the congregation should not even hum the final parts of the Eucharistic prayer let alone sing it along with the priest! There were frowns (only from the priests and the purists) when we sang "When a child is born" as it was too close to the Boney M version.
This experience at St Mary's left me puzzled in puzzled smiles.
Next stop was the CSI , Diocese of Medak and definitely it was the highlight of the day. The church was deserted when we got there and sunlight streamed in through the large windows. Minimally adorned with Christmas finery, simple huge benches reminding me of some old sofa I've seen in Kerala. We spent a good half hour soaking in the place and moved on to the Spanish Mosque. Here I was not allowed to enter (being female) and resented it every bit.
But nonetheless , a little bit of Christmas cheer left its mark on me and I went back to happy baking in the evening. Yes , its not the same without familiar faces , family and the choir , but we all reinvent traditions as we move along and carry a feel of what was best in our past. Sometimes it takes a day like yesterday to revisit the memories , hold them closer and send up a thanks for having them in your life.
Merry Christmas everyone!