Do you still remember when you woke up in the morning of Idul Fitri, feeling excited and happy because Ramadhan is just over, and you can finally eat whatever you want today? All those sweet cookies, and mouth-watering greasy foods.
My experiences with Lebaran were not always pretty. I remember when I was a kid, Lebaran was the day where I would feel exhausted from helping my mom baking cookies and cakes for neighbours’ order while waiting my dad to go back home from his night patrol since he was a police officer. I would sleep at 12 or 2 a.m. at night while listening to takbir. Woke up at five to prepare for sholat ied in local mosque. Lining up to do handshake to the whole community to ask for forgiveness which I never met half of the people that I asked an apology from. Then drove to my grandparents’ house, watching mom giving away money she earned this month from baking to people on the street and asked more apology from aunties, uncles and cousins. At 9 a.m. I would be too tired to even walk and sleep in my cousin’s room.
Lebaran has changed as I’m getting older. Especially when my mom and dad separated. Lebaran is not only exhausting physically, but also mentally. Having to meet all those family members from both mom’s new family and dad’s new family that still strange for me. All that never ending handshakes to the people you never met or met once or twice a year. All those copy paste broadcast texts in your phone with the beautiful font asking for an apology with their name and their spouse’s name under it.
I said to myself, wait a minute, all those things, apologies, do they even mean it?
Don’t think so.
I used to explain the value of Lebaran to friends who do not celebrate it. How we ask for an apology from the people we know in this special day and started from zero again. Being holy. Sinless person. I’m not saying that asking for an apology in Lebaran is wrong. It’s just that I’ve been witnessing how people seek for an apology in the name of being polite in this holy day is just all cultural. They will continue making the same exact mistake to the same exact person the day after. What’s the point?
Asking for an apology is not that simple. You need to evaluate your mistake. Do self-reflect. Understand that your behaviour has caused other people pain. At least trying and promise not to do it all over again in the future. The most important thing is you, yes you, you need to mean it when you ask an actual apologise. Cause some people do not even realise how harmful their words or actions towards other people.
As I get older, I just got so tired on picking side or splitting my time between mom and dad’s family. I get more and more comfortable to skip this day and treat it as a normal day. Because marking this day as a special day will only make my heart feel heavier and heavier. Thinking how a day like this supposed to make me feel like. How a family should be together in a functional house. How everyone supposed to be together, laughing while talking slowly with the whole family without scratching old wounds or forcing expectation. None of that going to happen in Lebaran, at least not to my so-called family cause our bounds and connection was already broken a long time ago. And no matter how much we tried to fix it, it can’t never be unbroken. When you push it, it will just be adding wounds each time I tried. And I might just as well finally take the hint, accept it and let go.
I’ve been celebrating Lebaran for the past 29 years. 25 times with my family, in my hometown. Not knowing what to do or how to feel. But these past 4 years I got more and more realistic treating this so-called special day. I do not have to pretend anymore that I enjoy this day. Or I do not have to seek apology if I don’t know the person, have not meet them for years. or if I don’t mean it. I do not to pretend that I’m okey when my heart is shattered all over the places too.
So, it’s only my personal opinion that of course shaped by an ugly childhood trauma, or an undeniably distant and toxic family. That Lebaran is so overrated. Too much expectation and complication. I better skip it. Cause I know it so well, my reaction or the feelings that I will feel in this day when I force myself to come ‘home’ are unwanted, lost, confuse, hopeless, and mostly tired of faking happiness when inside you still feel completely alone.
For me right now, it’s better to spend it alone, at somewhere comfortable. At least when you are feeling alone, it’s because you are alone. Not when you surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people, but you feel nothing. Nada. Zero. There is no shame in choosing to be alone in this ‘special day’ at least this year. At least I don’t try to fool myself or anyone else anymore.