Christmas is just around the corner, and I can feel the festive spirit lingering in the air.
Festivals are a wonderful occasion for the entire family to come together. Given the hectic nature of the modern lifestyle, unless you live in a joint family, it’s difficult to spend quality time with each other. Festivals make that happen – relatives, cousins, and extended families, gather and have fun.
Children love to bond with their cousins and enjoy family time together. During my childhood, we would always visit our grandparents' home, and spend Christmas and New Year with them or other festivals for that matter. I have a large family and I have grown up having regular large family gatherings. We have celebrated almost all occasions and festivals together. I'm glad my daughter enjoys it too. She likes going out with the whole family and enjoying family time to the fullest.
I think it is important for families to come together so that the children get a chance to bond with their relatives and know more about them. That bonding is important as it is not just between the parents and children, but the whole family. The child should know who his/her uncles, aunts and cousins are from both the paternal and maternal sides.
Of course, there are family dinners that happen once in a while, but during festivals it is different. It brings out the festive spirit and adds to the fun when everyone is gathered under one roof, letting their hair loose. Be it food or gifts, festivals give us a happy reason to break away from our preplanned schedules and give us a chance to indulge.
Every parent, me included, likes to indulge their child — buy them things that would make them happy and give in to their whims and fancies once in a while. You don’t celebrate Diwali or Christmas every day. So it is alright to let loose for a day and let the child have fun.
But, at the same time, it is also important to not overindulge the child. To make the child understand the difference between want and need. If you give the child whatever s/he wants every time, the child might not value it. The child might not need, say, a new toy, but simply wants it because a friend probably has it. Hence, it is necessary to make them realise this difference on their own. So, one has to teach the child the value of things because that is important or else the child will take everything for granted.
Whenever my daughter asks for something, I always ask her if she really needs it. I let her reflect on the necessity of the gift she is asking for, especially if I know she already has a similar one. I let her decide rather than downright deny her. I am sure many parents indulge their children, but with caution. After all, festivals are happy occasions and you don’t want the child to sulk or rebel for not getting his/her desired gift. But, if the child decides on his/her own that the gift wasn’t really needed, they’ll not ruin their mood. Don’t overindulge, but don’t deprive them either. This way, both sides are happy.
Every year, as a ritual on birthdays and festivals, we donate to an orphanage. This way, I have made my daughter aware about the joy of giving. Today, she comes to me and asks about the gifts or goodies we are sending to the orphanage. She understand that she cannot take the privileges she has for granted.
Festivals also give us a reason to dress up to the nines and look fancy. Most children, however, don’t listen to their parents when it comes to what they want to wear. They would always prefer comfy clothes over fancy ones. My daughter, for instance, always tells me ‘Mama, I don’t like to dress fancy.’ So, I let her be.
I let her wear whatever makes her happy, as long as she is decently dressed and not turning up in her home pyjamas at a dinner party. I don’t force her to over-dress, but I make sure that she is appropriately dressed for the occasion. Give your child the freedom to dress however s/he wishes. The important thing is to enjoy it as a family.
It is also important to make the child understand the significance of the festival. They are after all the ones to carry the traditions forward.
I feel festivals are meant to be enjoyed. As a family, one should enjoy, indulge and be happy. Go ahead, eat that favourite mithai or an extra piece of cake or whatever your heart desires. Let your child eat what s/he likes.
Make your soul happy. Go out and celebrate it as a family to the fullest, but of course, without going overboard.
(Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is a fashion and jewellery designer, and daughter of veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor)
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