I’ve been thinking about the things we keep.
When a friend came to know that one of the pet names my Dad called me was ‘Cinnamon’, she decided to call me ‘Cardamom’! When my birthday came around, she gave me a card. I’m sure it’s still around somewhere among a pile of cards and letters I’ve kept – a handmade card with a cardamom stuck next to the word ‘Dear……’.! Yes, the card is kept safely, but I’m sorry to report the friendship didn’t last.
The Things We Keep
Over the years we all collect a lot of souvenirs of special moments and keepsakes to honor relationships, commemorate special occasions, recall precious memories. I guess it’s good to collect these things, cherish and take care of them. Although, there are times, like with the card I have, we may be holding on to these special objects, while we’ve lost the essence of what they mean.
We also hold on to some customs and practices that once may have had meaning and purpose, but no longer make sense in our current context. The story of The Temple Cat illustrates this beautifully.
In India, among certain communities, there are practices and rules for widows to mourn the death of their husbands. Breaking their bangles, taking off their mangalsutra and rubbing off the sindoor from their foreheads. Among Goan Catholics, widows wear black and white for a year and don’t wear any ornaments. Personally, I find this all terrible, especially since there are no such rules for men who lose their wives! But I was appalled when a friend who had been estranged from her husband for several years, allowed her family to put her through the ritual of breaking her bangles and the works. To me, it seemed such an empty ritual, because this was the man who had tortured her and turned her and their young children out of their home!
I’m happy to share that my paternal grandmother bucked the tradition of wearing black and white for a year. She didn’t even wear that for my grandfather’s funeral!
There are so many practices we keep around festivals too. In the frenetic pace that many of us live in, these just add so much stress to what should be happy, family days. I have several memories of members of my extended family snapping each other’s heads off around Christmas and New Year as they worked hard to get the house decorated and put the traditional food on the table. It somehow took away from the joy of the festivities.
We must rethink the things we keep, the traditions we hold on to. Let’s focus on doing what’s meaningful to us and make our lives more authentic and stress free.
May you be inspired – every day!
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