Santa’s gift

I love everything about Christmas. It is the season of joy, giving and gifting. And of course, Santa and the stockings. Unlike any other festival, Christmas and Santa make me experience an almost child-like glee. When I was young, I used to have umpteen dialogues with Santa. Making my wishes. Visualising him on his reindeer, riding his sleigh and surprising me with a gift under my pillow…It occurred to me that it had actually been years now since I last conversed with him.

So, I decided to give myself a Christmas gift this year and reached out eagerly to Santa. As always, Santa was over obliging and loving enough to give me one. However, this time he asked me to choose – do I want a gift that is reminiscent of the year that is about to pass me by or do I want a gift for the upcoming New Year.

Of course, I wanted a better 2022 but his question had me intrigued. Curiously, I asked him for the gift of 2021. Santa smiled approvingly. He dipped into his big red sack and brought out a shiny red box, laced with the most beautiful ribbon. I could sense the excitement rising like a bubbly champagne going down my throat…and I almost attacked the package and unlaced the ribbon…only to find a multitude of small boxes that had to be unwrapped. I was a bit disappointed – I had expected a big gift but here were small items that needed me to unwrap them first. Nevertheless, I started to unravel each of them and here are the universal gifts that were unraveled.

  1. The gift of resilience

If there is one thing that the pandemic taught all of us, it was to be resilient and adapt to the unpredictable external environment. Admittedly, for many of us, continuous work from home was a new ‘experience’ and a struggle in the beginning. Today, when we look back, the benefits of WFH are well recognised, so much so, that many organisations are espousing a hybrid working model down the line.

  1. The gift of expanding mind-set

Zoom. Teams. Video calls. Going beyond normal work hours. Or working as per the time that helped many balance house chores as well. The splitting of housework between working couples. Children and their home schooling. Contributing to a cleaner environment. The mind expanded to embracing new possibilities.

  1. The gift of rekindling passion

I stay in a locality that overnight flourished with local businesses during the worst period of pandemic. People had rediscovered their passion or had ventured into new skills. Chefs, painters, writers, artists, and so many others…the world seemed such a richer and vibrant place despite the gloom that the virus brought.

  1. The gift of healthy living

Many old habits underwent a change during the pandemic. People have switched to new eating habits and made healthier choices. Suddenly, it was cool to eat home-made food. Sure, we all missed the bonhomie of eating out but eating-in was now sexy! Exercises in whatever form that worked for one, were back as the number one new habit. People became more conscious of their health.

  1. The gift of self-love

None of the above gifts would have been cherished or enjoyed were it not for this great gift that Santa made me reflect on – self-love. The recalibration of expectations, the dealing with a new way of living and being confined under a lockdown for long periods – all of these had many of us reflect on our lives, our purpose and what we wanted to achieve in life. The resilience, new mindset, skills or learnings we have achieved, would not have been possible without a huge dollop of self-love and acceptance of your self-worth.

The above five gifts by Santa sure left their magic behind for me! I simply adored my small gifts. What else can be more sustainable and renewable year-on-year than love and blessings of goodness and good will…what has been the best gift for you in 2021?

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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