I remember the time when those words illustrated a myriad of things : Mom and Dad were going to be home, my sister and I didn’t have any school, tuition or homework, taking dad through my coin collection, the Mahabharata tune with the entire household packed into one room, mom allowing us a delayed bath time, family board games ( ‘Game of Life’ being my favourite,maybe because of the cover!) , a special pre-planned menu for the day (which was free from calorie counting),one hour with mom’s treasure cupboard, smell of apple crumble in the oven, create our own hotel reception with limited furniture and limited guests and sometimes, a FAMILY PICNIC.
Those were the best Sundays of all. Our picnic basket loaded with all our favourite home-made goodies, the four of us would set off to a catch a ferry to Alibaug.The beach was clean, with brownish -white sand and the shallow waters made it the perfect spot for a family picnic. Once there, each time felt like, ‘this is the happiest day of our life’ – mom got the beach mat out and dad took charge of food and games.
Before mom could even say ‘be careful,watch your step’, dad and the two of us would be running off to the waters, only drawn back to the beach mat with the temptation of mom’s special picnic sandwiches. On the days we didn’t want to get wet, we would spend hours building sandcastles with the yellow beach set or walk around to find some rare shells and beach bugs. The ‘catch the ball’ game was a family favourite, the winner got the take everyone else’s shell collection for a day!
We always caught the second last ferry home, least we missed the last one.
In my memory bank are etched the fun, the family time and the glow of those Sundays.
But they seem very far away, now. Sundays illustrate very different things for me now. A quick look around my own household today, I see the concept of the day completely lost, like a beach in a storm. Between hectic work schedules, classes and social engagements, ‘Sunday’ has become a day off from work instead of the family holiday it once was.
We catch up on emails while the kids run from one class to a play date and a birthday party! Smartphones sit squarely in the face of both. Have we as a generation evolved into individuals that no longer need holidays? Yet our social media feeds are packed with posts of ‘need a break’, ‘vacay-mode required’ or posts of places you can visit ‘This Summer’, ‘This Winter’. Why? Why do we wait for a confirmation from someone else for doses of our relaxation during defined periods of the year when Sunday comes once a week?
I think part of the answer lies in the farse we live in. Our social media feed has become a championship to out do one another in pictures we post, events we are at , activities we do with our children and holidays we take – We have become a parenting generation that is constantly comparing our real lives with the outsides of others. While providing for the best for your child isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself,but, when it causes us to sacrifice real family time for one day a week in pursuit of better holiday photos, we need to stop and think.
Sure, the needs of urban Indian families have evolved considerably since we were kids – work pressures, education systems, social commitments are way more complicated and the digital space is way more convenient for us and the children alike. But my guess is, there aren’t too many children who wouldn’t love a picnic date with mom and dad, collecting shells on the beach or blow soap bubbles in their bathroom more than a activity class. The prospect of beating dad at a game of Pictionary cannot possibly lose to a game of emails.
The days of baking for your kids and packing the family picnic basket are numbered. Perfect family pictures and swanky Facebook check-ins can wait. Claim some real family time while you can. For one Sunday, forget routines, phones, fine-dining and bring out your old cook books or load up the picnic basket and drive off to some place windy.
This weekend, I’m not sending my kids to a class, mall or a playzone – we’re going to be home playing Monopoly in the afternoon and driving off to Igatpuri for an evening picnic with our summer hats, chequered picnic mat and grand mom’s apple crumble.
I hope to see you there!