It’S the season of cheer. But, against the backdrop of spiraling global recession and a looming threat of terror, Christmas — the festive calendar’s most sought after date for its lights, love and radiance — is witnessing a lull.

“Indulgent merrymaking is making way for self-introspection and meaningful soulsearching,” opines author and ex-hotelier Advaita Kala, adding, “Post the Mumbai carnage I’ve decided to organise a reunion of my management batch. Having lost several of our friends, we’ve realised how essential it is to reach out to people whom we take for granted.”

Robbed of its effusive radiance, the yuletide season wears a subdued look as revelers huddle under the shadow of imminent terror. Waluscha Robinson, wife of c h o r e og rap h e r Marc Robinson, admits, “As a family, we’re tremendously insecure, especially about our children’s safety. We’ve decided to skip the traditional midnight mass at St. Andrews ground in Bandra as large congregations are potent terror targets. Ironically, we had enjoyed a sumptuous Christmas lunch at the Taj Mahal hotel last year, but this time we’re planning to keep it quiet at home.”

Maria Goretti, wife of actor Arshad Warsi says, “Being an actor, my husband’s away for 20 days a month. Being alone with my kids during the turbulence made me realise the value of my family. This Christmas, I just want to hold them close to me.” Festive splurging is low as one looks for more meaning to it all. Actress Malaika Arora Khan claims, “Usually, I go all out to buy gifts. This year, my friends and I are pooling resources for families of the terror victims.”

However, the overwhelming sense of despondency is giving way to reinforcing familial ties. “It’s been seven years since I saw my brother in India,” admits 36-year-old investment banker Sudhir Garg, a US citizen who’s headed home this season. “We fell out after my father’s death owing to property tussles. I’ve decided to surprise my brother with a year-end visit. Who knows what tomorrow holds?” feels Sudhir. Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar adds, “Frenzied party hopping is making way for intimate dinners. The age of materialism is under review as everything is transient now. Before I retreat to Lakshwadeep for New Year, I intend to meet all the people who’ve babysat me through the good and bad times. Christmas would be soulless without their love. It’s time to say, ‘thank you’.”

The gilded glitter of gourmet meals, luxurious holidays and extravagant spoils is assuming a backseat as the swish set minimises its festive finery. Like the festival of Eid, Christmas too is a quiet affair. “Christmas day parties just feel so superficial in the present reality,” observes socialite Riddhima Kapoor Sahni. Image consultant Dilip Cherian, whose annual Christmas lunch is the toast of the party circuit in the Capital holds, “Social dos are now about reinforcing personal relationships, and not forging business ties.” Model Nina Manuel claims house parties are the new rave, “Hopefully, the party meter will pick up as we learn to move ahead.”

Even New Year celebrations seem to be lack lustre. Tinsel town beauties Katrina Kaif, Rakhi Sawant and Neha Dhupa have all cancelled their Christmas and New Year performances. Slated to perform at Mumbai’s plush JW Marriott hotel for a whopping Rs 1 crore, Kaif has even gone on record to state, “At a time like this, it’s insensitive of me to celebrate. My spirit is very low.” Item girl Rakhi Sawant also declared, “I can't join in the revelry when my Mumbai is burning.”

Goan designer Wendell Rodericks, however, feels that the present crisis is a powerful reminder of the true message of Christmas. “I’ll decorate my house with diyas instead of bright lamps, streamers and baubles to reiterate that Christmas embodies peace and broth erly love. Prayers will replace parties for sure,” says Wendell. Waluscha adds, “For the sake of our children, we must put up a brave front. I’ve decorated my Christmas tree way in advance and the star of Bethleham is up at my home. I intend to evoke a message of eternal hope that Christmas is symbolic of. We must live in faith, not fear.”

Every great tragedy brings in its wake a life lesson. So, as we pick up the pieces, let’s come home to some loving this Christmas.