Tag Archives: Christmas

’tis the season

My favorite season is finally upon us! Looking back at the past week, and all of the Thanksgiving celebrations and festivities, I am just seriously humbled and overjoyed with all of the opportunities that have come my way in this life. We spent time with friends old and new, we spent time with nature and just being in God’s creations, and we even watched the square in Santa Fe get lit up with their Christmas lights. Seriously, I have so much to be grateful for. Everyone does, we just get so caught up in life and everything that is coming our way, that we just forget to pay attention to all the things that we do have. I am completely guilty of this myself.

I went Christmas decoration shopping yesterday, and got a little carried away. I wanted everything to be so perfect from the outside, that I lapsed and forgot what this season is all about, and why it’s my favorite time of year. Sure me being the perfectionist I am, I want everything to look perfect. But the Holiday season isn’t just about the outside. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a perfect Christmas tree that looks like it came out of Home and Garden or Southern Living magazine. But, did that become my focal point? And for a split second, maybe it did. It’s my first Christmas with my husband, of course it’s a big deal to me. Somehow, I got lucky with a great life partner who calls it as it is, and made me remember why I love Christmas so much.

Sure, Christmas has turned into a huge commercial holiday, but it doesn’t have to be just that. What is true Christmas spirit? I love this season because it’s all about giving and spending time with your family and surrounding yourself with people who love you. It’s about something greater than yourself and realizing that there is so much more beyond our little bubble. It’s understanding that everyone on this planet is connected in some way or other. And of course it’s about Santa coming and visiting all the children in the world and spreading true Christmas cheer.

Nandan and I decided that we are going to truly make this a season of giving. How can we spread true Christmas cheer to the people around us?

By not being a Grinch. By being loving and caring. By being kind and supportive. By being giving. By providing to the best of our capability the things our family and friends really, truly need. By having a smile on our face no matter what life brings us. By giving back to our community. By helping out at a food shelter. By being open. By being grateful.

The hardest part of this challenge? Taking these and going beyond just the holiday season. By implementing this into our lives past December 25, and into the new year. We’re not perfect. But, we can sure as heck try our best.

We went to dinner last night with our uncle. After we were finished, we were surprised to find out that the family sitting next to us had bought us dessert. Complete strangers, just spreading some holiday love. It’s as simple as that.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. And merry, loving, caring, grateful, and giving.

How will you spread holiday cheer this year?

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blessed.

as i sit here thinking back to the past 5 days of diwali, i can’t help being drawn to the realization that i am so incredibly blessed. there is so much i have to be thankful for, and the question that looms in the back of my mind is, how can i show my gratefulness?

this was my very first diwali celebration in india, and it was such an incredible experience in itself, and the more i think about it, it included a lot of “firsts” for me. it was my first time doing rangoli (see picture), it was my first time doing fireworks by myself (i have a fear that they’ll blow up in my face before i can run away), it was my first time celebrating with family members besides my parents, it was the first time i felt a sense of community during such an auspicious time of year, and it was the first time where diwali wasn’t something i just came home to after a long day of school and classes.

the food was amazing, the decorations were spectacular, the clothes were beautiful. but more than anything, the time spent with my family and neighbors, the excited atmosphere, the smiles on everyone’s faces- that is what made these past 5 days worth it.

sometimes it’s really hard to look past the dazzle of this season. i’m guilty of it every year. this time of year is by far my favorite. i love christmas shopping and cookie baking, but i get so involved that i forget why i enjoy it so much. it’s not just to get presents for my loved ones, but the horrible traffic and long lines are worth it when you see that smile, that genuine expression on their faces that show how much they appreciate what you just did for them.

it’s about being the light in the darkness. there is more to just lighting a divo or stringing christmas lights outside your house. one small flame can brighten an entire room. one small act can change another person’s entire perspective/attitude. there is a mantra in the vedas “tamaso ma jyotir gamaya” which translates to “Lead me from darkness to light.” lead me from ignorance to knowledge. i want to seek the Truth, but when i can’t see clearly, when i’m lost in the dark, how is that journey possible? this path has been lit for me. how will i show my appreciation?

so, i think there is more to gratefulness than just a prayer of thanks. i can wake up every morning and tell God how thankful i am for every blessing i have in my life-family, friends, education, health, etc. but, sometimes just a genuine hug or smile is more than enough. i can be that light. after all, i am just an instrument of God, and my actions speak louder than my words.

first day divas on our balcony

me and my cousin working on our rangoli. safe to say my neck hurt a lot after it was done

final product of rangoli. so much time spent on this for real. not to mention my hands being 7 different colors because of the ink of the sand

decorations outside of our door in the hallway. each night we would light the divas with our neighbors

so many fireworks!

one that i set off. so proud!

fireworks

“Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya”

it’s finally that time of year

It’s safe to say that the holiday season is officially upon us across the world. Thanksgiving and family time is anticipated in the States. The arrival of St. Nicholas and the birth of Jesus Christ are in the air across the world. Here in India, Diwali, the biggest festival of our culture, starts tomorrow. And of course the celebration of the end of this year, and the ringing in of 2013 will be the perfect ending to what truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

I just want to take a minute to remind myself, more than anything, that past the lights, gifts, and feasts, there is something greater to these days, and that is family, love, happiness, and gratefulness.

As we enjoy the food and gifts this season, let’s remember to be grateful that we have even been given the opportunity. Love. Be happy. Be grateful.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”          –Brother David Steindl-Rast

it’s like a web

It’s been a few days since my last post. nothing extremely exciting has happened. I think I’ve finally gotten settled in and have a routine to follow everyday. The days are still going by pretty quick. I mean, I’ll be home in 70 days (and for all you Christmas extravagants like myself, that’s 70 more days until Christmas). There haven’t been any monkeys since my encounter on Friday with them. Thank the freaking goodness. But, I did see a peacock! My aunt’s friend has a weekend house about 25ish minutes away from the city (long way away, remember?), so I went with them yesterday afternoon. There are a lot of peacocks in the area. I didn’t get any pictures, but peacocks are everywhere in India, so I’m sure I’ll get one soon enough. Fun fact: the peacock is the national bird of India. Not sure what the U.S.’s is. I think Tennessee is the mockingbird. Not really sure though.

Anyways, I guess the other cool place I went to yesterday was the Kakaria Lake (wiki link). It’s this huge lake in the middle of Ahmedabad. Definitely check out the link. Lots of cool things go on in lake area–they have a zoo, aquarium, a train at night, light shows, food vendors, etc. My aunt and uncle took me at what seemed the crack of dawn for a morning walk. I kid you not, when I say this place was JAM PACKED. I didn’t realize there were so many morning walker enthusiasts on a Sunday morning here. Fortunately, it was somewhat cool outside.

Where I’m getting at with this, is going to the lake reminded me of a verse I learned in Sanskrit class the day before:

Shashina cha nisha nishayaa cha shashi

Shashina nishaya cha vibhati nabaha I

Payasaa kamalam kamalena payaha

Payasaa kamalena vibhati saraha II

Here’s the rough translation: The moon shines because of the night and the night shines because of the moon. So, the sky shines because of both the moon and the night. In the same way, the lotus looks beautiful because of the water, and the water looks beautiful because of the lotus. So, the lake looks beautiful by both the lotus and the water.

Essentially, what this shloka, or verse, is getting at is this ideaa of “paraspara”. What it means, is that we are who we are because of the relationships we have in our life. A husband is because of his wife, and a wife is because of her husband. A shopkeeper is not a shopkeeper without customers. A brother is not a brother without a sister, etc. You guys get the drift. But, this idea of interdependence is pretty cool if you think about it. We’ve created a huge tangled web with the rest of the world and the people who live in it. Pretty neat huh? It really hits on the quote “no man is an island”.

I went to Texas this summer, and remember having a conversation with a friend a long the same lines. When I wake up and have a cup of coffee, it’s not just me that poured the cup. But, you have to think back to the origin of the coffee plant. Someone had to plant it, harvest it, bag it, ship it, package it, ship it again, shelf it, etc. Our actions are never really solely done by us and us alone. There is someone else always involved in the process.

I think this is especially important for anyone on any kind of spiritual path. The relationships we create in our life all play a huge role in our ultimate relationship with the Divine. We are all a little piece of the Supreme, so by the friends we pick and the relationships we nurture, we are surrounding ourselves with small pieces of the Ultimate. So, don’t ever feel like you’re alone in any situation. There is always a presence of someone else, an invisible hand if you will, that has helped you get where you are. Having this attitude can bring humbleness into our lives, and humility is a virtue all religions endorse.

Mosquito Bite Count: It’s never ending; 5 | Serious Craving: Caramel Lattee

entrance gate to the lake

how pretty is the sunrise?

if you look closely, you can see different color rings around the sun, getting brighter and brighter.

an island in the middle.