Celebrations -Occasions for Self-Indulgence or Service?
If we insist on having special days to celebrate, using our money and other resources on such occasions to be of use to someone in need, instead of wasting them on indulging ourselves, is definitely a better idea.
By A Staff Writer
For many of us, what we regard as occasions for celebration are simply excuses for indulgence. On our birthday, we may receive gifts from our near and dear ones, or we may treat ourselves and our friends to a special meal. On a religious festival, we may buy ourselves new clothes or give boxes of sweets to our relatives. We may celebrate a job promotion by going out to see a movie or commemorate a wedding anniversary by taking our family to lunch at a restaurant.
In these and other such ways we often celebrate such occasions by stimulating our senses in some way or the other. Moreover, our celebrations are narrowly circumscribed in terms of who we include in them. Generally, it’s just us and our close friends and family members—people who, in a sense, are an extension of ourselves.
Occasions for Self-Indulgence
In this way, then, our celebrations often turn out to be simply occasions for self-indulgence.
But that’s not how it necessarily should be, as I was recently reminded. Now, I do not celebrate any festivals or any other such events, but it was my birthday recently and my friend Reshma did something very beautiful to mark the occasion. Even though she knew that I think that celebrating birthdays are a silly idea, for my birthday, Reshma made a generous monetary contribution to a hospital that caters to many economically poor people. She requested that the money be used for covering the charges for two sessions of dialysis for a patient from a poor family.
Dialysis is very expensive, and many people with kidney problems have to be on dialysis life long. Covering the cost of two sessions of dialysis for an anonymous person for whom every rupee is precious was Reshma’s way of marking my birthday.
Now, that was a really lovely thing to do, don’t you agree? I would have hated it if Reshma had bought me a gift with that money. She might have got a sound scolding for that from me (!) because she knows I intensely dislike money being wasted. But for a cause like this, no amount of money would have been too much!
Last Bite of the Pizza
It’s horrible the amount of money many of us splurge on occasions that we have been made to believe are excuses for self-indulgent celebration. What makes it even more saddening is the fact the pleasure we derive from such revelry is momentary: it lasts as long as the last bite of the pizza or ice-cream or whatever it is we are gorging on, if it’s with food that we are celebrating (and soon we are cursing ourselves for overeating!).
In contrast to the fleeting pleasure that we derive from such self-directed actions is the long-lasting satisfaction that we can experience from other-directed actions that are geared to serving others. The joy we can gain from spending our money to serve someone in pain and in need, like an anonymous patient who is on dialysis for the rest of her or his life, can remain with us long after the event! It’s a much better way to mark an occasion, if we feel the need for that sort of thing.
Ideally, every new day should be an occasion to rejoice: God has given us another day to remember Him and love Him and do His will! But if we insist on having special days to celebrate, using our money and other resources on such occasions to be of use to someone in need, instead of wasting them on indulging ourselves, is definitely a better idea! It’s certainly a way for much more lasting happiness!