What is celebration? Is it the bells and jingle during Christmas? Is it the firecrackers and dressing up on Diwali? Is it the colors and dancing on Holi? Is it really all these things; or is it the togetherness we feel on these special occasions?
Think about it. The people, the smiles, the being together, despite any interruptions. Festivals are for official holidays where our minds are nowhere else but with family and friends. Making the most of a day off; being together, eating together and laughing together. This year has been tough on a lot of us. It has been heavy. Some of us have lost jobs, some have gained more work, some have lost homes, some have been away from home for too long and some of us merely, have had a hard time being indoors. Cabin fever is a thing. It is unbearable for a lot of people. It drives us insane. It makes us do things that we never thought we would. Overthinking, fighting, suicide; take your pick. 2020 has made us see it all.
But the end of the year brings with it silent, quiet, warm joy. October, November and December are my favourite months. Because despite the hate and hurt, we still want to celebrate. There is always something to make you smile in these months — whether it is Diwali, Thanksgiving, Gurupurab, Christmas or New Year’s Eve. They are our anchors for happiness; a hope for a better year ahead. A time to be thankful for the one thing in our lives that never changes; family, friends and love. We realise how rich we are, how lucky we are to have people around that love us and care for us. That life is not always about working hard and making money. It was about slowing down and enjoying what’s with us; today.
Christmas holds a special place in my heart. For two reasons; it was the festival that came right after we lost our grandmother, and because it is my sister’s favourite season. It gives her immense joy: whether it is the movies, the eating great food, the lights all around, the music we hear or simply having her family together on nights to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and get fuzzy. Life is simple for her; it is about celebrating “JOY”. It is a different kind of celebration. Not to celebrate a person, not to celebrate a God, or even an event. It is simply put, to celebrate a feeling.
I, for one, am a sour person most of the time. I have my deep thoughts; I tend to get lost in them. I feel anguish, sadness and anger very strongly. It is rarely that I feel happiness and a sort of lightness; but most times, it is during the month of December. For me, it holds a different meaning. It means that the year has come to a close. The mistakes I made, the faults I displayed and the people I hurt; that all goes in the past. A new year could be better. That’s what it looks like, on the inside of my mind. But still, December holds its place for me. It is the month where I put everything behind me, and just hope for a better next year. So, essentially, a festival holds special meaning for everyone. It doesn’t have to feel the same way.
For my sweet, loving Mama, festivals are a beacon of hope. That things may get better (that her children may finally get married in the new year, haha!). She prays, she is religious. She enjoys giving a good chunk of her day to spirituality and religion. I do tend to agree with the first, but I am a bit iffy about the second one. But again, each to his own I guess. I developed my train of thoughts on this through my own experiences. But for her, religion plays an important role. Sitting in a gurdwara for me is about surrendering every emotion that I refuse to display to anyone. Breaking down when no one else can see me. But for her, it is about admiring what God is, and what he could be capable of. For her, it is about asking for a better future. For a happier tomorrow. I’m sure she has her negotiations too; I will fast for X days, if you give me Y happy days. Oh, humans are beautiful. So many different kinds. But, all beautiful in their own way.
But for Dad, festivals are special. They are the days that he truly gets to have his family with him. He is what you would generally call a ‘vagabond’. Not in the sense that he travels a lot. But in the sense that he has various thoughts but cannot fix his mind on one. It is about going from one city to another every week, and sometimes to his factory very often to find a way to make work ‘work’. I guess that’s how the life of a businessman is. Decisions are many, time is little. But whichever festival you put your finger on, he will try to celebrate it. Because those are days he has with his daughters and the love of his life. They are his days. They are uninterrupted days. They are purely for him to feel at peace.
This is the variation of how one family perceives festivals. Imagine the gazillion other families in the world; festivals are a cause to celebrate for everyone. It is just about how they decide to celebrate it, what they look for in that celebration and how they feel joy. One man’s trash is always another man’s treasure. So, I will tell you this.
Life is a kaleidoscope of experiences. You will never know how one feels, unless you have experienced what they have. And even then, it may have an effect contrary to theirs; everyone’s wavelength and tolerance are different. So, this festive season, why not practice ‘Live and Let Live’?
Life is hard for everyone. Give yourself a break, give the ones near you a break. Life is beautiful, if you just live it. You don’t have to ace it; you just have to breathe and let things flow. Joy comes on its own; in a smile on a stranger on the street, or a laugh that you have been waiting to hear. It is a lot of things for a lot of people. Celebrate life. Celebrate joy. Celebrate ‘YOU’!
Week 50, December ‘20
Originally published at https://www.roadfolkmag.com on December 11, 2020.