Christmas at school was an occasion that dazzled with delight; a time that filled our hearts with goodness and joy.
The preparations for the sparkling season would begin by mid-November and one could easily feel the cheerful vibes in every corner. There were special prayers held every day in the morning till the vacations began. Several programs were arranged by the teachers in which the students actively took part.
Being a convent school, we learned a lot about the Catholic culture. Every morning at the assembly stories would be narrated from the Bible. Holy songs were sung. In fact, I knew a lot more of the catholic way of life than our Hindu rituals.
December was the time when the entire ambiance of school was not only of celebrations but we were also soaking up in the warmth of spirituality. But the major attraction amongst all these beautiful moments was the ‘kindness tree’ or the ‘tree of joy’ or it was sometimes even called the ‘sacrifice tree’.
The school peon was assigned the responsibility of bringing a dried and barren plant with a lot of branches and twigs. He then mounted it in a vase near the main gate of the school entrance. The place now looked remarkably dull. I would call it the weeping corner as the sight was not at all pleasant to see when one would walk into the school building. After a few days, the teachers kept tiny leaves made of green paper in a box just next to the tree.
Now here was the magic. Our kindness program had begun. We were told that any kind act we do, or any sacrifice, or anything that brings joy or comfort to someone; It might be anything as small as sharing a pen with one of your classmates, who forgot to carry it or sharing your tiffin, helping mom in the kitchen. Whatever number of good deeds that we do, we had to note it down in our diaries and the very next day, stick that number of the green paper leaves onto the dry leafless tree.
The whole school participated. Sometimes we stuck 5 leaves, sometimes one and sometimes none, depending upon how much goodness and compassion we offered to the world. As days went by, it was so heavenly to see this lifeless tree turning lush green with our tiny acts of kindness. It was a lesson that small acts of goodness can make something so beautiful, so serene. The once dull and lifeless corner at the school entrance was now radiating positivity. The same corner which I ditched earlier, now I would spend most of my recess time just next to it.
The lifeless tree was once again brought to life by our good deeds. This dressing up of the tree taught us many valuable lessons in our childhood. Just to have the privilege to pin that one leaf to the tree, we would search and hunt for ways to do some act of kindness. Be it at home, in school or anywhere. We exchanged ideas on how to do good acts. It was a great feeling when people saw you sticking that leaf. We would hang out there during recess time or before and after school, to check out who were those good souls that were gluing the leaves onto the tree.
But I don’t think anybody had the heart to simply stick a leaf without doing any good work. Everybody was truthful, I believe because you could make out a sense of pride when someone stuck a leaf. You could feel it on their faces. I am not very sure but yes, I felt that none must have cheated in pinning the leaves.
And then finally we had the Christmas party whose theme was ‘sharing’. All the food items and classroom decorations were bought after proper planning by the class teacher and the students. The entire cost of the party was shared among the students. Other class teachers and the non-teaching staff were invited. Here we learned how we can get joy when we share and celebrate our happiness with others.
After the party, we then went to see the tree. A small crib was made near the foot of the tree a bright star hung on top of it. It was illuminated with lights and many more adornments were added to it. It was mesmerizing and heartwarming to see it. We could see the fruits of our generosity shining on the tree and in this manner, the whole month of December was drenched in kindness.
After many years now, the look of the Christmas party has definitely changed. It has become more brilliant and glowing than ever before. With big resorts hosting lavish parties; their Christmas trees and décor is a sight to behold. But the warmth that we found in the ‘tree of joy’ at school will always remain special to us. The joy that we received at the small Christmas party in the school classroom will always be missed.
Image Credit: Jeremy Bishop Unsplash