Dedicated to my beautiful children Nidhi and Varun, my adorable nieces Aditi and Saatvi and my lovable nephews Adi, Giri and Shashi.
Love you guys!
I was overwhelmed. The holidays usually did that to me. There always came a time in the frenzied activity around the planning for the perfect getaway or a perfect get together, the perfect holiday family picture, buying the right gifts for the right people, putting up the lights and tree and doing our bit for charity when I had had enough. Strangely, this year it was not the feeling of being ‘Queen Bee’ that got to me. Quite the contrary, a feeling of emptiness flooded my heart.
A few events on the personal front (call it life, if you may) over the past few months had usurped my time and sapped my energy. Before I knew it, it was Christmas eve. We had not put up the tree. There were no lights, no gifts, no parties, no picture and there definitely was no vacation. The holidays were going to be a train to Nowhere land for my children. Was I a lousy mother? I had let myself get so preoccupied with the changes in my life that I had forgotten to plan the fun.
My children were teenagers now. I had wanted the few years before they left the nest to be filled with memorable bonding times. Memories of a sparkly, inviting home, days spent on an unforgettable cruise and lavish parties needed to be engraved on their minds. Times they would look back to fondly, when they were older. Of course, since they were teenagers, they would be equally content if they had just their phones around. All the more reason for a mother to plan constructive activities that sealed family ties and grounded them into reality. Yet here we were, faced with the possibility of nothing fun to do in the most happening time of the year.
The thought of creating holiday memories of just watching TV and playing video games irked me.
As I sat in my living room replying to holiday messages, pictures of families with smiling faces in fancy places that flooded social media made sure I did not disembark at any point while on my guilt trip. To top it all, my daughter had come down with the flu the day before. Last minute shopping or an impromptu get together with friends was out of the question too. My holiday spirit was dead.
I moped around for a bit before I warily (moms with teenagers will relate to the wariness) entered my daughter’s room to check on her. She looked much better than before. She beckoned me in with a smile and handed me the iPad. “Here mom, watch this. This lady is sooo funny.” The lady was Superwoman aka comedian Lily Singh whose YouTube videos had garnered a few million views. Boy, was her take on her Indo-American heritage hilarious!
Our guffaws drew my son into the room too. He came in carrying a batch of cookies he had just baked. Yum!! I had been so busy moping earlier, I had not paid attention to the pottering sounds that had emanated from the kitchen. As we dug into the crunchy sweetness of the gingerbread cookies, we discussed the vagaries of immigrant parenting, the likes of tiger moms and the absurd success of the arranged marriages of our generation.
The conversation that ensued felt open, heartfelt and funny. The laughter eclipsed the emptiness I had felt earlier and reignited my dying spirit. I felt a simple yet strong sense of connection to my children and I know they felt it too. For in the days that followed, they often congregated on my bed to opine about people from Queen Latifah to their elementary school teachers.
I learned new age scrabble words from them as we played ‘Words with Friends’ and they learned about some of the games their father and I played as children growing up in the streets of Mumbai. And fortunately for us, our budding baker continued to bake a few more scrumptious treats.
What a blessing the days with nothing to do had turned out to be! This year would forever be etched in our memories as the year where I learnt the art of just being, our prodigal teenagers crawled back into our bed and my son discovered his passion for baking. I was grateful for these spontaneous joyful times that entailed no meticulous planning.
This past week, in a home devoid of the frills of traditional holiday rituals and festivities the spirit of the holiday-of gratitude and togetherness, throbbed in our hearts stronger than ever.
Author’s Note: Wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year. Deeply thankful for the opportunity to reach out to a few hearts and make loving connections.