It’s the end of the Lunar calendar, according to Indian tradition, the festival of lights (Diwali) behind us and the New Year begins. This year it didn’t really feel like Diwali, the joy of the holiday felt muted, the bright colors of saris looking grey instead of like rainbows.
It’s difficult, no matter how you try, to recreate home in a place that is still relatively new, the connections too paper thin to build memories. For the first time, in a very long time, we spent Diwali without our extended family. And that is when I realized, more concretely, that holidays, especially the ones that are cultural, are about the feelings that underly them.
As a young girl, I recall several holidays when my mom spent time in the kitchen cooking an Indian feast for friends. As a sign of respect, my sister and I would bow down to my mom and dad to seek their blessings. The significance of that single act is something I cherish in retrospect. After the morning Happy Diwali’s to our friends over the phone, we would pack up in our finest Indian clothes and drive to temple to thank god for the past year and the strength to embrace whatever came in the new year. At night, there was a celebration, with family and friends, the chatter of conversation and the smell of Indian cooking filled the space.
Now I wonder how my Mom and Father were so great at recreating Indian Diwali in their Texas home. They spent over thirty years of Diwali in the midst of so much family that celebrations lasted over a period of two weeks instead of one day. The nights were filled with fireworks and countless blessings darting from every corner. I never once sensed as a little girl how much my parents were missing their Diwali with their mom and dad and their sisters and brothers.
This year, more than most, a strange hollowness overtook me during Diwali. I wasn’t touching the feet of my father or my mother (who spent Diwali with my sister). We went to Temple as a family, but the crowd felt unfamiliar, I felt displaced, though I can’t point to why I felt this way.
But sometimes I think you have to accept that some holidays pass by this way, the memories of now just can’t rise to the warmth of what you you’ve experienced in the past.
But as I write this, I know I can’t give up. It’s all about the feeling, not the place.
Happy New Year to all from my family to yours.
Do you agree that holidays are about place or feeling? What are some of the things you remember about holidays as a child? Do you recreate some of your childhood traditions in your own home?
It’s a double post day. Please join me over at http://www.mommypants.com/.
Special thanks to Cheryl for allowing me to occupy her space.
Happy Diwali! We celebrated this weekend in our own quiet way, with dinner, board games and lots of illuminated candles.
I can understand your sentiment here Rudri so very well. For us, Thanksgiving is not a holiday we ever celebrated 🙂 and Christmas in England is a very big affair, with very traditional dishes served and an order to the day with family. So for us that is the difficult holiday period being here without family and all that we remember of Christmas as children.
Happy Day!! I think it’s a feeling too…I’m sure it takes time to get there.
For me holidays have always been about feeling, and when you can’t find it, they just don’t measure up. Life is complicated, even more so as we get older, and it’s harder to replicate the emotions of our youth. I think we have to work harder at it, and in working harder we almost negate it. It’s like it doesn’t just happen the way it did when our parents were responsible for it. Not sure if that makes any sense, but as I try to do the same for my children, I realize how much work it must have been for our parents.
We don’t live near family anymore either. The distance has left me and my little foursome alone on many holidays over the last seven years. The first year felt strange, but we realized over time that we had been starting new traditions that year, ones we cherish and repeat each season. Happy New Year to you and your family, Rudri!
I love this post, Rudri. I believe it summarizes my general apathy toward holidays quite well. We haven’t been around family for our whole marriage, and have often been unable to travel to their homes for the holidays. Yet, I think this year will be different. We might not be able to travel, but we are ready to celebrate the holidays as they should be celebrated–as a family and with lots of food. : )
I am with you…it’s hard for me to generate excitement here for my little family when my heart is elsewhere, in a place of my childhood, with my bigger, extended family. I hope that once my daughter is older I will be more motivated to bring the festivities into our home the same way your parents did with you. I think it’s wonderful that they’re able to do that for you and your sister.
Holidays are about the feeling, for me. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we eat, so long as I feel at home with the folks surrounding me.
I’m late, but Happy New Year!