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Off the cuff: Let’s set aside a special day for aunts

We all celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with great fanfare. These are special people in our lives, and we rightly set aside a day just for them.

Perhaps you’ve also heard of International Chocolate Day (July 9) or Croissant Day (January 30).

There are some ridiculous celebrations too, like Pop Goes the Weasel Day and Talk in the Elevator Day. Yes, believe it or not, such occasions exist.

But what about those special people who are not celebrated? Like your favourite aunt?

Sure, there’s an Aunt and Uncle’s day, celebrated annually on July 26. Your favourite uncle may be very special to you, but we need to allocate a day just for aunts.

These aunts need not necessarily be of your own flesh and blood. They can be your mum’s best friend, or even your best friend’s mum, or indeed any lady to whom you feel you can confide.

These honorary aunts are quite often closer to us than our real aunts.

Real or honorary, we all have turned to that special female someone sometime in our life, especially during our rocky teens or even in our twenties when life appears overwhelming. For teenagers, especially, parents are sometimes the last people they want to confide in.

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A best friend often helps, but sometimes, you need more mature guidance than what someone your age can give you.

Enter the aunt, your favourite aunt, your guide, philosopher and friend. You know all your secrets can be safe with her. You know that she’d give you advice tempered with reason and good sense.

She’ll help you get over your first crush or heartbreak, perhaps even give you career advice. Or even if she does not have all the answers, just telling her your problems makes you feel lighter.

Books and literature have their own share of aunts, the good, the bad and the downright wicked. But my favourite aunt in literature is Miss Betsey Trotwood. Remember her, from Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield? David approaches her as his last resort, and she does not let him down.

Miss Trotwood (who is actually David’s great-aunt) may come across as being eccentric, but she is compassionate and generous, and her rough exterior hides a heart of gold.

Which comes down to what makes someone your favourite aunt: well, first of all, you have to click with her. She’s that special person who sees things from your point of view. She may be younger than your mum, but not necessarily so. She may be a spinster aunt or married with a brood of kids.

But she can give you tough advice when needed, and make you see sense. And she is never, ever judgemental. You can confess your deepest and darkest secrets to her, and you know her love for you is unconditional and she’d never stop loving you less because of something wrong you said or did.

And lastly, she’d never laugh at your problems. A teen’s problems may appear silly or unimportant to many grown-ups, but not to the favourite aunt. She’d understand what you’re going through, and empathise with you.

Which comes back to my original question — why don’t we ever have a Favourite Aunts Day, just like the Mothers and Fathers day?

Shouldn’t we respect the Institution of Favourite Aunts and accord them a special day? Just like we send Valentine’s Day cards, we can send our favourite aunt a special Aunt’s Day card. And just like we buy gifts for our mums or dads, we should do the same for our aunt.

Let’s reconnect with our aunts — they deserve it!

Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer.

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