Being in India for Christmas is something I highly recommend, as long as you are not partial to obnoxious carols blaring from every shop, garish decorations and excessive consumerism. Compared to other festivals and occasions, this one is extremely understated by Indian standards, with the odd shop carrying plastic trees that would suit Charlie Brown, and beautiful but simple stars adorning the fronts of some homes and businesses. Jingle bells? Haven't heard it yet. However.... it has been such a nice experience watching the community pull together to form a giant extended family over the last few days, celebrating "Mysore style," beginning with a holiday fundraiser party for Operation Shanti and Ashadayaka Children's Home on the 23rd that raised about 80,000 rupees, a huge sum of money for these two worthy organizations. There have been brunches and lunches over the last two days, where yoga students have opened their doors to welcome in friends from around the world, and at one, there were presents for the children who are here while their parents study at the shala. Santa really does find the people on his "nice" list, no matter where they wind up on the big day. Speaking of Santa, who made an appearance in a Santa hat this morning before the first group for led primary? Sharath, who apparently had a good laugh about it and wished everyone a Merry Christmas before beginning the opening chant. It seems like with all extravagances stripped away, Christmas in Mysore is what it is truly meant to be; a time to build ties within the community, and share laughs, love, and good food with friends. Happy holidays to everyone!