I was seven when I first found out about Santa Claus and the Christmas sock tradition. You hang a sock or stocking over a staircase, a bedpost, or a windowsill on Christmas Eve, and the good old Santa will drop in a gift in your sock. Blown over by this tradition, the 7-year-old me would pen a list of things I wanted and put the paper in the sock. I would wake up every Christmas morning to find a gift beside my sock. While they did not strike all the things on the list, my parents always ensured the sock never went empty.
Growing up, I spent many Christmases travelling with my family. We would often vacation during the last week of December, returning home to mark the new year. However, my parents always brought gifts for the socks even during those trips. It was a ritual that lasted several years, even after I moved out for my higher education, and curved as a family tradition for my younger sibling. This is probably why I love and believe in maintaining rituals which is exclusively reserved for your loved ones.
New Year's Rituals
While I am not big on New Year parties, there is one ritual that my friend and I followed religiously until one of us (it's me, reader) got married. I and my friend, let's call her T, met during our post-graduation in Mumbai. Each year on December 30, we would dine at a fancy restaurant, have wine and unwind at the beach. We would sit at the beachside till midnight, wish one another a Happy New Year's eve and return home. We never celebrated New Year's together, giving each other the space to do our own thing on the first day of the year. But we always made sure to have that December 30 dinner date together. We carried on this tradition for years, even when we started working and had rigorous newsroom shifts.
I remember our last December 30 outing vividly. It was the year before the world went into lockdown. We both took a train to Churchgate and decided to dine at an extravagant restaurant. We giggled at the fancy fusion gourmet options, ordered a bottle of wine and danced the night away. We wandered around South Bombay, marvelled at the Metro Cinema, took a look at our alma mater St Xavier's College and whined about everything under the sun. We took pictures, some came out good, and some blurred because of our constant laughing. We took the last local out and returned to our respective homes. The following day I woke up to T posting one of the photos from last night with a little note, "R, you are my Bombay." It was the best of nights and if given a choice, I would love to re-live it again.
Two lockdowns and a wedding later, our New Year's ritual got an abrupt stop. Now, we text one another on New Year's Eve, hoping to recreate that day again.
Though it hurts to think that the possibility of recreating our New Year ritual is minimal to none, it is nice to relish in the nostalgia of it. We grew up, we moved on, and we will probably adapt to a new ritual. Some traditions evolve and change over time, and that is normal. Families blend, people move, and life situations change. Sometimes we intentionally create and continue traditions because they provide a sense of belonging. Sometimes we grow out of those rituals, and some, we carry forward in a new way.
Last year, I celebrated New Year's under quarantine. My husband and I had tested positive for COVID-19. Hence we video-called each other by being isolated in different rooms of our home. We laughed at the irony, wished one another, and went to sleep even before the clock struck twelve. This year too, we plan to stay back home, order food, watch trash reality shows and dance the night away. This may be our New Year ritual.
The views expressed are the author's own.
Suggested Reading: The Year Of Resurrections, Not New Year Resolutions!