I was chatting with friends a few days back and I found myself saying with a sigh, 'I wish Diwali was already over. It's a bit of a pain, right?' And that friend replied, 'Not really. I like Diwali, it's fun.' It might count that he was a 'he', wasn't a mum, wasn't even married for that matter. But the thing that struck me was, 'Hey! I used to think like that. When did Diwali become a drag for me? When did I stop missing putting out the diyas, doing up the house, dressing up in new clothes?'
Me the Scrooge
It happened slowly, over the years, ever so slowly that I didn't notice. It happened when all of that became a compulsion. I've shared how I felt many times here on the blog. I even took Lakshmi ji to task. Jokes apart, Diwali to me had come to mean loads of cleaning, wading through crazy crowds, trying to drive bargains and draining out my bank account handing out those bonuses.
However, that's not what festivals are supposed to be about right? Well, they are, but they are more about being happy and excited and content and about spreading cheer and making everyone happy while also being happy yourself.
So this year I decided I'd put the cheer back into my Diwali. I needed to, specially since The Husband might not be home this time. The key, I realised, is to lower expectations and do more fun stuff with the kids. It helps immensely that at 8 years they are older and a little less of a pain. (I cannot believe I just said that!!)
So I drew up a 'Will' and 'Won't' list for myself. Take a look.
Dive into closets and lofts for that once a year cleaning.
Trawl the old city for the best idols, the 'different' diyas, the cheapest bargains.
Worry myself sick about visitors.
Try to clear up the kids' cupboards or their room (Whew! Such a load off, already).
Go ballistic yelling at them to clear up either.
Try to keep a democratic approach with them (This one is HARD).
Try to say 'Yes' to them as much as possible. (I have good friend Shailaja to thank for this tip).
Put out fresh (not necessarily new) covers.
Put up the pretty stuff I've bought for Diwali.
Order gifts online.
Paint diyas with the kids.
Try new crafts with them.
Have a few festive foods like the mandatory Yam (So we don't turn into chhuchhundars in the next life!) and a simple sweet like a kheer or the super easy atta laddoos which we make together.
Buy lots of sweets.
Hand over the bonuses with a smile and without a grudge because the people around me do make my life simpler and happier.
The list comes with a word of caution to myself:
- The house will not be as clean as I would like it to be or as it used to be
- The food will not be as elaborate
- The gifts will not be as glorious
The democratic approach
Starting from there we've spent the past few days happily cleaning up TOGETHER.
The kids made out lists of things they would do and the things they wanted me to do for them. They allocated cleaning one small area (a drawer, one shelf of a cupboard) each day to themselves. H even included 'not trouble N' in his list! Now that's a time-saver if ever there was one. Their lists for me were, of course, much longer (buy crackers, help us paint diyas) but that was fine.
Our fun times
Since painting diyas was top of the list, that's what we started off with. Midway through it N wanted a dance break so we put on some LOUD music and she danced. Then we got back to work. After a while she wanted to invite her friend over. And we did just that.
We tried making jam jar lanterns for which we'd been saving for some time. After a few mishaps they turned out fine. Take a look.
Here's what we did..
We pasted cello tape. Then painted them with fevicol, then applied powder glitter. We intended to peel off the tape later but we couldn't find the tape and ended up peeling off much of the glitter. So next time we left the ends clearly visible. Like this...
... and then peeling it off was a cakewalk.
We stuck on some sequins and ended with some ribbon and gota. All we need now is for some candles to go in and we're done.
And we tried some damage control. We pasted kite paper hearts on the really bad ones. Once the candle lights it up, we're hoping it'll look just as good as the others.
Then we wondered what to do with the bottle caps. So we made them into tea-light holders.
This was easy. And here's a tip: Use a toothpick to pick up the tiny sequins. Once the kids got a hang of it, it was fun.
To our surprise and happiness they even floated on the water so now we have ended up making floating candles! Yay!
There's a few days to go for the big day and we've had a relatively peaceful time. We still have some more things in mind which we might try out. But I'm not pushing it.
So what would your 'Will-Do-Won't-Do' list look like? Of course it might be completely different from mine. If you love cooking that'll feature big time or if you love to shop, city shops might be fun. The thing is to list and prioritise.
Starting from today till Diwali and beyond, each one of us will be writing a post related to Diwali.
So sit back, relax and check out all the fabulous Diwali Dhamaka posts from the participating blogs in the linky.