After going through all of Harry and Meghan’s fairytale wedding photos this morning and after melting at their smiles at each other, I started getting very nostalgic about my own wedding!
So I busted out our wedding album, and started going through the pictures, looking back fondly at how beautifully everything played out during our wedding weekend.
I spent a lot of time planning out every single detail of my wedding – from the clothes, to the decoration, to the music, to every single party favor (which was painfully assembled by my relatives!). And I was so happy with how everything turned out – it was beautiful. But when I look back at my photos, I rarely ever see the decoration. What I see are all the people I love – their smiles, the looks we share, the laughs as we assemble for group photos, my husband and I holding hands, etc. It’s so reflective of what really matters to us at our special occasions in life – the people we spend them with. So why do we forget it when it’s time to celebrate the next occasion?
As I gazed at the “Cinderella” like wedding photos of the royal couple, I started thinking about special events in general. These days, the royals aren’t the only people having fabulously extravagant affairs. Every other wedding I’ve been attending has been filled with over-the-top decorations, from fancy stages, seas of candles, elegant table spreads to exquisite floral arrangements – on tabletops and practically everywhere else in the hall too. Each wedding I attend seems to out-do the last. And I can only imagine how much deeper it digs into each hosting family’s pockets too.
Have we all gone mad?
We are living in an interesting world today. And we are raising our children in this interesting world. A world where everything is bigger and better, over-the-top, perfectly planned, luxurious, decadent, Pinterest-inspired, grand, expensive and TIME-CONSUMING. Time that is being taken away from our families, from taking care of ourselves, from doing something valuable. Time that is being wasted on frivolity. We are living in a world where luxury and “being on top” or “being the best” holds a lot more value than being happy and being yourself. A world where the perfect party is an expectation, not a delightful surprise. In a world where we are almost getting bored of the perfection: the gorgeous backdrop, the beautifully arranged dessert tables, the cute and creative party favors, the extravagant cake, the designer dresses. Those things have become BASIC. Standard. Which then leads us to want to do even MORE. Although, there isn’t much more left at this point. (I think.)
In the Quran, there is a verse that talks about this situation almost perfectly:
“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter……(there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment“. [57:20]
Life is temporary; and we deceive ourselves by getting caught up in this “play”. Throwing the fanciest parties, competing to have our kids be better than others, etc. When someone finds out they are going to die soon, how quickly do their priorities change? They start spending each and every minute wisely – sorting out their affairs, giving in charity, making mends and spending time with their loved ones.
The funny thing is, we all already know that we are going to die some day. We also know that it can happen at any time, without warning. And yet, we can’t seem to free ourselves from every day frivolous matters. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are all bad people. It just means, that this is the nature of the world, and we just have to try harder to re-focus ourselves every day, and to pray more for being able to keep perspective, and to stand up against what’s wrong as much as we can – even if everyone else treats it as a norm.
Good times and having things to celebrate are a gift from God! As much as I enjoy planning and attending well decorated and Pinterest-y inspired parties, how much time are we wasting “planning” the party, instead of enjoying and being grateful for the celebration? How much money are we wasting trying to be the best and look the best at our occasions instead of looking at everything around us and appreciating that we already have the best? What values are all of these things instilling in our next generation? That appearances hold more value than what we feel inside at a celebration? That a time of celebration is “stressful” instead of simply enjoyable. What are we teaching our children about happiness and gratitude for the people and good times in our lives?
While I’m not against decorating and creativity at all – I do think we need to take it down a notch as a society and live more for the moment. The people and the occasion – not the decoration and the accolades you receive for the perfectly executed party – are what make you enjoy celebrating good times. Simple celebrations sometimes bring us more joys than the 100-person-guest-list and perfectly themed party.
We all know this deep down. We all have this realization from time to time. But we need to try and take more of a decisive stand to make it OK to be simple again. We have to, as a community, remind each other to take a break from the fluff and just be grateful for our friends and family. Too many of us who have lost loved ones know that it doesn’t last forever – and that you truly should cherish every moment of life.
And think about it. When Meghan and Harry look back at all the royal wedding photos – they’re going to cherish those looks of love at each other. Holding hands while waving at people. The jokes they shared. Not the walls of flowers behind them or the Cinderella-like carriage rides.
So while I’m fasting today, I’m just sitting around wondering, if in the glitz and glam of the world today, we have all forgotten to cherish what matters most: each other.
What do you think?