New Year’s Day, and any other day, for that matter can, instead of being wasted on self-indulgence, be made an occasion for remembering God and for doing good to people in need.
By R. Sherim
Having a ‘whale of a time’ on New Year’s Eve was a big thing in the family in which I grew up. I cannot (and thankfully so!) remember exactly what they generally did on the occasion, but I think there must have been all-night partying”in an expensive hotel or in someone’s home or farmhouse. There, they and their friends probably would have danced to blaring music and binged on a huge variety of dishes. Some would have drunk themselves silly and gorged until they were sick. And when the clock struck twelve, marking entry into the new year, there would have been plenty of clapping, shrieking and hugging and wishing everyone around ‘Happy New Year!’ (whether this was just a ritual or was seriously meant I cannot say).
Having a ‘Great Time’
As a child, I must have attended some of these parties because that’s what my parents thought was the done thing. Like many others of their background, they had been programmed, by the sort of ‘education’ they had received, by the media that they consumed and by the seductive advertising of businesses that thrived on New Year’s sales, to believe that having ‘a great time’ partying on New Year’s Eve was what any sensible person should do on that day.
Fortunately though, as I grew older and could decide at last some things for myself, I realised how ridiculous this was. I stopped attending New Year’s parties altogether. At the most, I would mark New Year’s Day by sms-ing or emailing greetings to a few friends.
This year, though, I did something different, I am happy to report. With two friends, I visited some places of worship”of different religious traditions. Maybe it was for the first time ever that I was marking the new year by thinking of God. To do this in an interfaith way made it even more meaningful.
There was another novel thing that I did this time for New Year’s: I wished some of the cleaning staff in the apartments where I am presently located and gave them some money as a gift. Then, I went with some friends to meet a child from an economically impoverished family who is suffering from cancer. We handed his father a sum of money that a generous well-wisher had given us for the boy. Later, we visited a hospital that caters, among others, to many poor people, where we gifted some materials that we had procured for them. Then, the next day, I arranged for some provisions to be sent to a home for the mentally-challenged.
All of this made the advent of this year a very different one for me from all the other fifty-odd New Year’s Days that I’ve witnessed so far in this present life of mine. My intention in relating this is not to advertise the ‘good’ that I did on the occasion. Rather, I want to share with you about how New Year’s Day (and any other day, for that matter) can, instead of being wasted on self-indulgence, be made an occasion for remembering God and for doing good to people in need and being a means to brighten their lives. And if this is how we mark the first day of a new year, maybe we could try to spend the rest of the year in the same spirit, too! n