Post festive blues
Whether one stays home and continues work as always or travel out on a holiday doesn’t really count – it is only about whether you are back “home” or away.
BENGALURU: Did you celebrate the festival holidays by yourselves, or did you, like millions in the cities and towns of India, travel to meet your family wherever they are so you can celebrate the way you and your family have always done? When one is single, the choices are not too complicated – either one goes back to the family of origin, or not. Whether one stays home and continues work as always or travel out on a holiday doesn’t really count – it is only about whether you are back “home” or away.
The challenges really come in when you are in a relationship that the respective families know about. Then, the choice of which family gets what holidays and how many days becomes quite a challenging negotiation, not just between the people in the relationship but their families and others. Some events are culturally significant and coded into the relationship pattern, but at most times, it is something the people in the relationship need to decide for themselves. Between duties, family obligations, work pressures, personal desires, the expense of the travel and other factors, these choices can become really difficult.
When one adds to that mix the emotional charge evident in these occasions, built as they are to highlight family relationship bonds, the potential for things to become quite explosive is much higher than on ordinary days. The pressure to conform to family customs on one side and the longing to form one’s own traditions on the other side can get quite problematic. Sometimes, it can all get too much and one might just want to leave it all and get away altogether from everything and everybody.
There is nothing like the festive season to trigger feelings of loneliness, separation anxiety, social anxiety, depressive feelings, fear, conflict and so much more. It doesn’t matter whether it is Deepavali, Eid, Christmas, New Year’s Eve or whatever else that matters to you – the feelings that it can potentially bring up are a lot more deep than usual.
People who are by themselves might struggle in some ways and people in relationships might struggle in other ways, but the chances of there being an emotional challenge is that much higher, and conversely, the chances also of deep emotional connection, whether it is like in O Henry’s eternal Christmas story The Gift of the Magi, or similar stories in different cultures and mythology of how love finds a way to make itself felt, no matter the financial circumstances or social standing.
The gifts that matter in all these stories are, at the end of the day, not what money can buy but the thoughtfulness that love brings, the awareness of who the persons we care about really are and how we know each other. Despite all the hassles of the festive season, the one reason or is still a big deal is not so much about the duties and obligations, but the potential to truly feel loved, and sometimes more importantly, to truly know we are a loving person.
(The author is a counsellor with InnerSight)