I believe in the art of celebration. I believe in the tiny, hidden treasures of life. We have a choice every day to live either a normal life, or a life that underneath the everyday dirty dishes, diapers and piles of laundry wants more from us. It beckons us, but it will also allow us to ignore it. It is a life that is sacred, spiritual, and brimming with hope no matter what the world outside looks like. The art of celebration rebelliously chooses joy over fear and despair. It is a choice made every day to believe that life is good. Choosing joy over the chaos and mess is not easy. It is a learned discipline. Learning the art of celebration anchors us. We become tied to positive emotions. It is probably the most unrecognized and underutilized self-help tool in our toolbox.
I understand why people are cautious, serious (oh how we adults are serious) and sometimes pessimistic. After all, we live in a world that sometimes seems like it has gone mad and often disappoints us. There is so much fear, disease, terrorism and war. We sit back and wait for life to become easier and more comfortable. Then we will allow ourselves to truly live and be happy once again. We are waiting for more, or something different. We go to work, chauffer the kids, and do our household chores until we drop exhausted into bed. Then we wake and do it all over again. It is a practice we become quickly accustomed to. Life isn’t always what we want or expect. It can be very uncomfortable. Just as the seasons change, our life has seasons too. Just when we discover new blessings that are birthed in spring, winter soon appears, and we feel empty and like we have been stolen from. We feel cursed. We can remain angry and bitter forever, or we can allow ourselves to eventually heal and grow. Have you heard the saying “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning?” Sometimes, we discover blessings come from those curses.
The art of celebration is living life in a new way. It comes by viewing the world around you in a different light, like the fleeting moment before twilight. It is like mining and unearthing tiny nuggets of gold from beneath the surface of life. If you blink, or become distracted you might miss it. The art of celebration involves living in the present moment, and living in relationship to those around you. Celebrating is hard to do alone and in isolation. Doing life together as family and community is rewarding.
Years ago in the midst of a winter-like season my family began to celebrate simple things. The first glimpse of a spring robin meant a celebration with ice cream. The first winter snowfall was a reason to gather for hot cocoa, marshmallows and whipped cream. When I forgot, there was someone that didn’t. They reminded me. They became disciplined. Kids love a good reason to celebrate. Look around you at this great big magical world. What can you celebrate? As autumn approaches, maybe it is the bounty from your garden. Our advanced culture has lost sight of celebrating things that were once important like the harvest. Gather up your friends and throw a celebration complete with your fresh veggies. Get a group together and visit an apple orchard. Celebrate the harvest! Celebrating is good for you. Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. Have you reached a goal? I think we judge ourselves harshly and downplay our accomplishments. We need to be proud of ourselves.
Do you look forward to holidays? They are a special time to come together, eat good food and have fun together. It is a break from the every day. When was the last time you celebrated something other than a traditional holiday or birthday? Recently I wrote an article on gratitude. Gratitude is the energy that fuels celebration. This summer I spent a lot of time meditating on the concept of celebration. In this fast paced world we live in, somehow we still seem to manage to squeeze in a little time to gather occasionally at a local restaurant to celebrate an occasion such as grandma’s birthday. But when was the last time you celebrated something just for the sake of feeling thankful for something in general, such as your amazing friends?
In June, I decided to plan a celebration of friends. I decided I wanted to throw an outdoor summer dinner party. (That is another story in itself. It is time to bring back the dinner party!) In Minnesota a summer dinner party is almost impossible with the bugs. I got creative though and a screen tent made it possible. I borrowed a banquet table and set it with a white tablecloth, sparkly tea lights, and a vase of wildflowers. Overhead I hung a string of tiny round, clear, patio lights. I set up the tent next to my giant apple tree and hung white balloons with ribbon from the branches. My friends are adventurous, and no one complained as we crammed ourselves into the tent. It was cozy, but intimate. We shared a tapia-style meal of flat bread, crackers, and various toppings. We had dishes of veggies, fruit, olives, cheese, and salad. Everyone pitched in and brought a dish. At the end of the meal, my friend spoke on the topic of friendship. Then some of us shared stories of how our friends have helped us through challenging times such as raising children, sickness and divorce. During this time we passed around a couple bars of gourmet chocolate. Instead of breaking bread together, we broke chocolate. As the sun began to go down, one of my friends brought out her guitar and we sang together. We shared both laughter and tears that night. As people began to head home, the sun went down. The tent glowed bright with candles in the midst of the darkness. The scene reminded me of how my friends are a light for me, in the midst of dark times. It was a special night that most of us will never forget. It made me glad that I didn’t put off planning the night because of my everyday life’s excuses. I wondered why I allow my busy life to keep me from living a life full of celebration? I want and deserve better.
I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and plan a celebration. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Start by making a gratitude list. Choose one item you are grateful for and CELEBRATE!