What do you and your family celebrate? Many of us celebrate Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Easter, weddings, and other days that we deem significant in our lives. I begin to look at living life with more celebrations a few years back. I think I began to realize that life is very very short. I turned 60 two years ago (no more birthday counting for me…hehe). I realized that I am at the end of my life and at the same time I think my brain also told my body to start to ache here and sharp pain there. I decided that I wanted to celebrate more. I’ve read many stories about people that have survived cancer or near-death experiences and they all, in some way or another say, they want to celebrate every new day.
Being raised in a preacher’s home celebrating was not a big emphasis. There was more importance put on responsibility, duty and obedience. Actually I learned that there “might” be some formulas to a happy life (getting excited?). One thing my dad always said to me was, ‘Patti Sue if you just behave yourself and do the right things, you’ll have a good life’. Well I put that formula to the test and guess what…. ummm not a good formula. I got married, had kids, was the church secretary, church pianist and just to be safe added the children’s choir to the tasks. In 1999 my formula was shot to heck (or the other word, they both fit) when my marriage crumbled and I moved to another town 150 miles away. No amount of begging God to fix it caused it to get better. No celebration that week….well my sweet sister-in-law bought me an ice-cream cake for my birthday, but the spirit was diminished, to say the least.
It was then that the first step toward appreciating what life throws at you started to dawn on me. Accepting the fact that life doesn’t have a formula and, in fact bad things happen to ALL people and good things happen to ALL people, is a very important core belief to embrace in getting to the place of “let’s celebrate”. It was just my turn to “get to” experience life’s’ authenticity.
For those single parents reading this, you have already taken the step that life has no formulas (or if you haven’t then you’re killing yourself to do it all). Some of us are slow learners (I’m raising my hand). I began this part of my life (the single part) learning to live with absolutely no free time, no money and no privacy. I missed all of the good stuff to celebrate. I regret that I didn’t see that my kids did wonderful things for me all the time, that I had a car that ran, that I had food on the table (even though it was a little table), that I had an apartment with a washer and a dryer….I could go on .
It was seven years ago that I really saw life at its darkest, but now isn’t it ironic how the darkest moments shake us awake. I really began to see that life is about relationship, beauty, celebrating and loving life. I decided that I wanted to celebrate more often. I was sick of being about duty, responsibility, and keeping the law. Now I don’t mean that I gave up the disciplines of life like going to work, taking care of my kids, and just doing the things that make life work better, but I’m saying that it was no longer that I couldn’t see the fun for all the duty.
When was the last time you celebrated on a Wednesday night for no reason except that you made all the lights on the way home? When was the last time you had high-tea at noon on a Saturday with your kids or a friend? When was the last time you celebrated having enough money to buy the car behind you coffee or let a person behind you cut in front of you in line (that’s a celebration). Maybe we need to define celebrate (Tim is very big on defining terms…it’s the science in him and the male logical side of him). Celebrate: Show happiness at something, mark occasion, perform religious ceremony, praise something. Now I like the ‘praise something’ a lot. Just praising that I am alive and “getting to” do something, whatever it is, can be considered celebrating. I could celebrate that I get to cook dinner because it’s healthier, cheaper AND most important, it’s relational eating together (I hope Tim writes his blog soon on I get to…..). I decided that I don’t need a cake and candles to celebrate, (though I like a good moist cake with a great filling between the layers). I can celebrate with a good cup of coffee or even Kool-Aid (remember that stuff?)!
I watched a show on the travel channel about Ethiopia. They were the first to discover coffee beans. In the present culture they get together to make a cup of coffee and it could take 2-3 hours for the coffee to be ready after roasting it and crushing it by hand then steeping it. However, they said that no one is in a hurry…… it is about being together and have relationship with those in the room. Now that is living and celebrating life!!
Sometimes, (I’m preaching to myself here), we wait until the funeral to be together with our relatives and friends. At my mom’s funeral just a few months ago I saw some old friends that I wish I had kept in contact with them through out the years. We celebrated what we shared in the past and what the day meant to each of us by remembering my mom.
So I’ve said all of this to say to you, live life and celebrate the small things along with the “occasions”. Actually make the small things great occasions! Now I’m going make a cup of coffee in 10 minutes and celebrate the morning because the sky is as blue as the ocean and God is good. I’m smiling.
By Patti Caparros