December 17, 2021

Who Hijacked my Holidays?

I love holidays.

I’m a huge fan of fun, laughter, food, lights, sparkle, warmth, and snuggling in quilts at night and talking and sharing till you don’t remember when you fell asleep. Or, I was, till the time I started hating holidays. We will come back to it later!

When I got married, I loved to host huge dinner parties and I literally mean huge. Family would come, cousins would be there, and friends of course! Friends of friends and sometimes people would come up at 2 a.m. and my husband and I would be clueless—who are they or why are they here?! But everyone who knew someone was welcome.

I loved the singing part at the end. Everyone proving their singing prowess by singing in their loudest out of pitch voices—still, it was fun and magical.

I am not good at conversation at parties. I am a background creature that lurks somewhere in the dark but is always ready to chip in where required. I am more comfortable with one-to-one conversations.

I’m interested in stories that matter, stories that eyes tell, winks that are exchanged across the room, gazes that follow someone leaving the room and yet desperately hoping the person would turn back.

A smile that holds millions of tears and yet is the brightest that particular evening.

I love the human existence and warmth of hands brushing against each other when you lean over that fabulous center table to get salt.

I love the squeeze on the shoulder or the arm that lingers a tad bit longer than required because here lies the connection that matters. Here lies the nourishment of the soul. And, the hope that we’ll be well.

These are the feelings that sustain me, that are the essence and spirit of any get together.

At the end of one such beautiful evening, I found myself crying. No—howling! At that time, I didn’t realize what was happening. It took me a few weeks to come to terms with the fact that I was crying because my feet were aching terribly as I was wearing some stupid 4-inch heels the whole evening. Was this reason enough?

There was a desperation that I couldn’t pinpoint still. There was a restlessness, a mild churning inside, which had become like a background noise.

As I processed what had transpired that evening, I began to hate holidays! Because the center table had to be more elaborate each year, décor had to be grander, food had to be more exclusive. My dress, hair—perfectly blow dried. My makeup had to be spot on. Everything had to be color coordinated according to the theme. My house had to look a particular way and my kids had to be at their best behavior.

I was surprised at myself because I loved to dress up and do all of these things. What the hell was happening to me?

No one ever told me to do these things in so many words. Yet, there was this unsaid pressure of “being” a particular way.

How many of us stop to ask ourselves: when holidays are about bonding, why did they become a stress factor?

Why do we feel lonelier during holidays?

Why are we exhausted at the end of the holidays rather than feeling rejuvenated and bouncing with energy?

Do you feel relieved at the end of holidays?

If I look at this problem deeply, it’s not about holidays only.

Have you ever come back from a vacation feeling utterly tired and wishing for another quiet vacation?

Do you find yourself wishing for life to be simpler like in your childhood? I know, I do!

The problem is this: the way my life “should” be is being sold to me. To have good and happy holidays, I have to conform to the unsaid laws of the consumer-based industry, whose subtle and sometimes not so subtle marketing have controlled my life.

The bigger question at stake is: has my intelligence been hijacked in some way? Is my thought process being influenced in the name of globalization and progress?

I love having people at my home, but I don’t want them to look like clones of a particular influencer or clones of each other following a trend. I would admire them if they repeated clothes or landed up at my place without gifts.

Give me a hug and tell me how much you love me or what our friendship means to you.

I yearn for that connection that goes beyond the movie nights and color scheme of the season.

Bring me your authentic, true self, and in the process, let’s discover each other a little more.

Let’s accept that this year we may not have the best holidays.

Tell me a story that defines you over a cup of coffee, over a leisurely dinner in comfy pajamas and slippers.

I am still hosting that dinner with all the sizzle I can gather up.

All the napkins and cutlery may not be matching, but there will be delicious food for everyone and some extra to pack for the next day also.

I will not be in heels, rather the dress code will be: wear something old that has some meaning for you. Maybe a sweater your grandma knit for you or something your close friend gifted you, and though you don’t like it—still it’s there in your closet.

Do not bring any gifts, rather stories—what happened to you? Bring me your tears and smiles. And, I will share mine!

And, yes! There will be a small bonfire—to sing and dance around, to beat the winter with a little warmth of love!


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