How Do You Celebrate When The Magic Is Gone?

In less than a week we are saying goodbye to 2020. On the stroke of midnight, I will be relieved to see the back of this unfortunate year filled with upheaval and sorrow. For some of us, in the UK, there will be no fireworks, no big celebration. We are in Tier 4 lockdown. Each household will stick to their own bubble, no mixing for fear of catching the virus or, getting a hefty fine from the police.

How do we celebrate when the magic is gone? A few days before December 6th, my family decided that we would not be having our usual celebrations. Even worse, Christmas would be downsized to one single gift per person. I was devastated because I was looking forward to a merry time spent with the whole family. Surely, we cannot cancel Christmas!

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” – Emory Austin

December is special for me. Not only it is the month of my birth but, I also celebrate religious feasts weekly – from St. Nicolas on the 6th to the birth of Jesus on the 25th. A long period of excitement, non-stop organising and celebrating. The house would be warm throughout, and a nice aroma of baking would be wafting from the kitchen. Baubles would decorate the Christmas tree and stockings waiting to be filled, would hang by the chimney.

But this year, things have turned out differently. I found myself in a situation that I had no control over. My life has been impacted dramatically since the start of the pandemic. From being in a full-time job to being stuck at home, from being independent to relying on others. I have had to steer through ongoing adversity.

“Like tiny seeds with potent power to push through tough ground and become mighty trees, we hold innate reserves of imaginable strength. We are resilient.” – Catherine DeVrye

At times, I would wake up with a pang of anxiety and feel overwhelmed. I knew if I did not do something about it, I would soon feel worthless and desperate. I needed to manage my emotions and find a day-to-day purpose. By adapting to a new way to thinking, I could function normally. All I had to do was to look for the positive among the negative.

With the help of online communities, I soon learned to be resilient. With their help, I kept going, never gave up. I learned to work at every challenge that came my way, using different strategies that got me through the day. My strength was tested, and I learned the limit I could endure. Through our daily connections, I was able to grow stronger.

“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” – E.B White

What 2020 taught me is that things can get bad. But what I do with the constraints and stress is what defines who I am. I have stopped assuming and now, I let go of anything that is not within my control. I am grateful for each day where I learn to be stronger and wiser.

I have learned to live on less and give more to others. By minimalizing my expectations, I know where my limit lies. I have the power to be kind to myself and the responsibility to pick myself up when I fall.

As the year ends and I reflect on the past, I am glad that I listened to my heart. I had two choices: let bitter circumstances affect my celebrations or embellish them with love, joy, and happiness. I chose the second. St. Nicholas and Christmas were a success. Bring on 2021!

Thou Shall Not Judge

“Wow, have you seen what that lady is wearing?”

“Oh, mother, please don’t judge!”

“Come on, that dress is too short for her age, admit it!”

“Stop it. It’s not funny!”

That was a thought-provoking conversation between my daughter and I. Was I being judgmental? I believed it was a simple observation. I was neither judging nor criticising and the lady in question never heard those words. So, no harm done, right? That was what I thought until I was put in my place by my daughter. To her, I was judging by appearance and that was unacceptable. It was not a joke and she was right.

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself”- Dr Wayne Dyer

There is a fine line between a joke and criticism. So, when does a funny remark become unacceptable? Judging someone is negative, and ‘judgmental’ is a harsh word which we do not like to be associated with. Yet, when we are told that we are judging, we are quick to deny it. Very often we voice our opinions without thinking of consequences. It is instinctive. We react to how others behave but ignore our own behaviour.

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment”- John 7:24

We have become such perfectionists that we think we have the right to correct other people’s flaws. If we feel we have the right to do so, then we must make sure we know everything about that person. We must learn the facts and not assume. We are neither presiding in a tribunal nor are we God, Himself. We cannot form an opinion based on looks or actions. We might think it is funny, but would we tolerate this behaviour if it is done to us?

“When you have an emotional reaction to what you see, you are judging. That is your signal that you have an issue inside of yourself – with yourself – not with the other person. If you react to evil, look inside yourself for the very thing that so agitates you, and you will find it. If it were not there, you will simply discern act appropriately, and move on.”- Gary Zukav

Sometimes when we feel threatened, our defensive mechanism kicks in and judging others help us boost our confidence. Because when we experience negative feelings and our self-esteem takes a dip, we believe we are less worthy than others. Venting out on someone else might make us feel better but we lose our core values.

“It is easy to judge. It is more difficult to understand. Understanding requires compassion, patience, and willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow.”- Doe Zantamata

Before we say something, we must stop and think. Before we judge, we must understand why we are doing it. When we learn not to judge others and accept them the way they are, we learn to accept our own imperfection. By turning that negative behaviour into understanding and compassion, we let go of our fear of rejection and learn to accept our own faults.

“If you start judging people you will not have time to love them”- Mother Teresa

Instead of spending time pointing out other people’s mistakes, take the time to ponder on your own. You cannot control how people think and act, but you can control your own behaviour. By choosing to see the good in others, you will end up seeing the good in yourself.  It is high time to learn to show more kindness and less judgement.