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.