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Holiday spirit

The Ethiopian New Year is coming up and I am loving the holiday spirit! Major holidays like New Year are periods that make one long for family and one’s native country. For those Ethiopian living outside their beloved country, it is sad to see that such a much celebrated and important holiday like the New Year goes unnoticed and passes as any other ordinary day. This is of course owing to the difference in the Ethiopian and the Gregorian calendar. I myself had to study abroad for more than five years and therefore can understand the feeling of loneliness and unimportance that comes with living in a country that doesn’t share any of my country’s cultures and traditions. The Ethiopian holidays did not go completely unnoticed though. I remember back in the days that the Ethiopian student community postponed the celebrations to the weekend immediate to the holiday in concern. But to tell the truth, the celebratory feeling is not the same. It is like postponing your birthday celebration to a more convenient date. What is even more inconvenient when living abroad is having to wish people a happy New Year twice a year. As the stay abroad becomes longer, there comes a point at which a person feels the need to choose the date at which she or he should start her New Year – September 11 or January 1?

For those of us Ethiopians who reside in Ethiopia, the answer is obvious. September 11 is the start of a brand New Year! New Year is a time when new resolutions are made. New Year provides an opportunity for a fresh start, new beginnings. Or does it? One might resolve to pass from one class to another with colorful grades, start a family, start a new line of business or start a dream job. But does one resolve to work more on their inner self and become a better person from the inside out? Does one resolve to be kinder and more considerate of others? Does one resolve to be more appreciative of others and of own blessings? In my opinion, life is more fulfilling when what we do has a positive impact on others. What we do doesn’t need to be grand as such. It can be respecting the people that we serve and those that serve us. It can be giving our time, attention, advices, money and other resources to those who are in dire need of it. It can be being more open minded and tolerant of others’ opinions and giving the chance to others to freely express themselves without judging them. In short, what I believe each of us should try to work on as we start the New Year is to try to the extent possible to not do to others what we do not want others to do to us. And I strongly believe that what we do for others is sure to benefit us more than the other person.

Last week I got the offer to participate financially in the feeding of over three-thousand homeless people for New Year. This program is organized partly by a Rotaract club which is basically a charity club formed by youngsters of less than 30 years of age. In my opinion, these youngsters should be highly commended because at a financially constrained age, they are committed to provide a service that is above self. Not only are they willing to consecrate money for this service but also their family time at a very important holiday. I am sure there are several others who like these youngsters share their meals and celebrations with less fortunate ones. I have no doubt in my mind that these people will spend a much remembered holiday! As we celebrate the holiday, let us think how we can make the holiday enjoyable to at least one person who is less fortunate then we are.