The moment I read this quote: “Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is,” the thought of Eid during social distancing didn’t look as gloomy as it had appeared until now.

I have been really depressed, especially since the last ten days of Ramazan started and with it the countdown for Eid. For the first time in my life, I find myself making no plans nor looking forward to Eid, which is really sad, since Eidul Fitr is my favourite celebration in the whole year, more than Eidul Azha, as I really don’t like all the mess created then.

There is something more personal about this Eid’s celebration because I always feel that this comes to us as a reward for all the fasts and prayers we do in Ramazan. We worked hard the whole month and now we have the right to enjoy ourselves to the fullest.

This Ramazan too we have been faithful in fasting and following all (well, most) of the commands of Almighty Allah. And we have actually had a harder time due to the fear of Covid-19 looming all around, making us not hold any Iftar parties for family and friends, neither order any food from outside nor go out shopping when finally some markets did open.

There are no new bangles, no new shoes nor new accessories for anyone at home this Eid. Yes, I do have a new dress since we did order some clothes online, but no special preparations for us or the house like we do every year.

But seriously, I don’t really mind not having any of the above things, since I realise that what we already have are enough to suit a celebration, because a celebration is all about how we are feeling and not about what we are wearing.

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After hearing about so many more cases of Covid-19 infection all around and this week, for the first time, hearing of people we know becoming critically ill due to Covid-19, I have much to be thankful for this Eid. At least all my family is safe, healthy and are together. And all the others whom we can’t meet this Eid, are safe at their homes.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for those who themselves or their loved ones fell prey to this dreadful virus and are in poor health or gone. For them, there is no Eid at all. And also for the doctors and paramedical staff, who are putting themselves in danger by fighting for the lives of others, are probably not in any position to have any kind of celebration at all, with or without their families.

It is so true that when we look at the sufferings of others, ours become so insignificant and we learn to be thankful. We are all under great stress these days, and mentally it is very hard for us to keep it all together. Each of us has to find our own ways to work through this tough time and find a ray of hope, a cause for celebration and a reason to rejoice.

I have had to bring myself back from a very bleak place to see this Eidul Fitr as really a time when I have much to be thankful for and much to celebrate. All my family is safe, we are getting steady income while working from home mostly and we have managed to pass more than two months of lockdown and Ramazan by staying home with our loved ones.

Well, coming back to Eid, let me tell you that now I have decided that I will do all there is in my power to make this Eid seem as enjoyable as always, though in a different manner. What matters is how we feel or take things to be, and I plan to take things as positively as possible and make sure that no one in my family feels down because of the lockdown.

So let’s see what we all can do to add more meaning and festivity to Eidul Fitr and be thankful for what we have, and not feel bad about what we can’t.

Enjoy it like always

Whether you have new Eid stuff or not, or there are as many dishes on the Eid trolley or not, there is no reason for you to not enjoy what you have — because you at least have something, most of all, good health.

So raid your wardrobe, put together nice clothes and all the related stuff required for Eid, like you did every year. Who says everything has to be new? Don’t we repeat our good clothes on weddings and other occasions, and still look so smart in them and have a great time? Don’t those pictures get the maximum likes when you share them?

Check with everyone in the family and make sure that on chand raat, everyone’s clothes are nicely pressed and hanging to be worn the next morning, the shoes are clean and polished.

Clean up the house with mum and make it sparkling — this needs extra effort this time because for most people, the household help is not coming. So all family members should divide duties, clean and set the house ready for an Eid party, for themselves! Even if no one is coming to your place this Eid, you deserve your surroundings to be nice, with clean bed sheet, all fancy decoration items dusted and displayed and nice fragrant candles lit in corners to give a soothing ambiance.

Party virtually

Photo: Dawn/Sophia Khan

Each occasion has its own special food items that add to the flavour and leave lasting memories. Eid too comes with all the sweet variety of vermicelli, with each family having their own special style of making it. And there is always a family lunch or dinner where different families come together and lots of eidi and gifts are exchanged.

You can do it this time too — if not literally, then at least virtually. Yes, make all the nice food items like always, set the table with the special crockery and cutlery. Have all the food set out and take lots of photograph of it and yourselves, send it to all your friends and family. Have a video chat with them and show them how you are dressed and what special preparations you have made for Eid.

Those who have been having online classes are familiar with the different ways in which a large group of people virtually get together, such as on Zoom. So plan a Zoom party with family and friends, especially those who would get together each year for lunch or dinner. Ask everyone to log on at a given time, and everyone should enjoy their food while video calling — so technically, everyone will be having dinner together, but safely at their own homes.

This will particularly brighten the mood for all grandparents who are going to miss seeing the younger generation due to travel restrictions.

I have already planned a party for lunch on Eid and sent everyone a card I designed online, and for an hour or so, we will be video chatting with about four other families as we all have lunch together, in our own individual homes.

The only thing that will be more difficult to manage long distance is the eidi children used to get. Yes, gifts and money gifts are going to be few this time since there will be few people to meet. But so what, there is always a next time!

There are other things that are synonymous with Eid and are family traditions. There is no reason why we shouldn’t follow and enjoy them, as long as you can maintain social distancing and not take unnecessary risks. And let us also find new ways of doing things, find meaning in things that really matter and discarding those that we can do without.

For the wise, 2020 is going to be the year when they realise what really matters most to them, what things really hold meaning and what they can do without. This is a time to learn to do things in new ways and discard all the unimportant things we had been holding on to. Life is simple, let’s enjoy its simplicity this Eid.

Have a very safe and blessed Eid everyone!

This article was originally published in Dawn, Young World, on May 23rd, 2020. Read it here

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