I mean anything and everything. Birthdays, half birthdays, people getting married, people having babies, people moving, holidays… And those are just the big and important things.
When I was living in Seattle and working as a nanny, I realized just how much I really do love a reason to celebrate. I found a calendar on a preschool website that had all sorts of days that things were invented or discovered or silly national holidays that no one really celebrates… And we celebrated them all.
We had fall food week and Teddy Bear Day (which consisted of taking our bears on a walk and drinking chocolate milk at the coffee shop with them.) We threw pajama pancake parties for Christmas and Halloween. We watched old videos of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade days before Thanksgiving. When the new baby Prince was born in England, we celebrated with a tea party and special English sundaes. We even celebrated national trail mix day by taking a walk through our park with bags of trail mix that we had made with our friends. There was literally always something to celebrate. It made work more fun for me and I never got tired of their excited little faces when they realized that just a regular old Tuesday could become an extra special, memorable day.
And you know what? I think that’s exactly how life should be! Life should be celebrated!
Sure, birthdays, and weddings, and new babies are reasons to celebrate, but so is your average old Tuesday in the middle of March.
“Why?” You might ask.
Because every day that we wake up and breathe deeply and feel our heart beating in our chest, we have been given another reason to celebrate. And when you add to that that we know Jesus, the one and only Son of God who made a way for us to live fully and forever, we have no reason NOT to celebrate!
Life is fragile and fleeting and so precious. And not to be a downer, but it’s very temporary. We never know when or why or where or how our hearts will simply stop beating. I don’t say this to scare us, I say it to inspire us. I say this because number one, this life we have been given is a gift, and number two, because we have got to make the most of the little time we have. God chooses every day to pump blood through our veins and push air in and out of our lungs. Don’t for a second forget that every beat of your heart is ordained by Him. If we are just sitting around like bumps on a log, trudging through every day and failing to notice how wonderful the whole thing is, then really we are just wasting the gift we have been given and an incredible opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong… I am an anticipator. I LOVE looking forward to the next big thing, a trip or a holiday, or even just a long weekend. But, if I fail to recognize the beauty in the present and the things that are worth celebrating here, I am missing out on the richest parts of life. I am forgetting that every day, every moment, every breath and every heartbeat is a gift and a reason to celebrate.
A while back, I decided to institute a few traditions in my life that consciously focused on being present and finding a way to celebrate the most seemingly ordinary things and days.
First of all, I created something that I call simplicity notes. They are simply an exercise I use to acknowledge how lovely life really is. Sometimes I make them after a really long, really hard day or week when I can feel my attitude is less than pleasant. On days like those, it really is an exercise of forcing myself to reflect on the day or the week and acknowledge the fact that there were still a lot of beautiful moments. Other times, I make them after a string of amazingly spectacular days when I am just bursting with joy and gratitude and can’t resist sharing all of those things. Sometimes the lists are long and sometimes they are a bit shorter. Sometimes there are big, obvious moments to celebrate, and more often then not there are silly, tiny things that I chose to celebrate. Either way, they are a conscious effort to celebrate life and the present moments I am in. They are my way of seeing the beauty here.
Another thing I did, was choose a favorite day of the year. I know, I sound like that girl from Miss Congeniality (I apologize if you don’t know the reference), but it has seriously been one of the best things I have ever done. I decided that I love September 17th. I love the weather because it is this perfect mix of summer and fall. There is sunshine and the air is just beginning to feel a little brisker. All of the autumn scents and flavors are beginning to show up on store shelves and I can keep my cardigan on all day. And not to mention, just say it out loud…go ahead…doesn’t it just sound lovely?
I digress. I chose this day for all of those reasons, but also because I had experienced a huge turning point in my relationship with God on this particular date. (That’s a long story that I will share at another time.) The things I learned about God’s character that day were things that I knew I needed to remember and celebrate for the rest of my life. So I decided that every year I would celebrate September 17th. In some ways, it is a personal holiday, in others it is a day of reflection, but in all ways it is a day when I recognize that the life I have been given, with all of its twists and turns, is a beautiful gift and that all of it is worth celebrating.
Let me be real for a second and stop talking all sunshine and rainbows and roses.
This is not always easy.
There are going to be so many days (more often then not) when it seems there is absolutely nothing to celebrate. A good 300 out of 365 days are going to feel all sorts of normal and ordinary and dull and honestly you might not even know the date or the day for that matter. And another thing, the rough spots are probably going to stand out more and threaten to drown the lovely ones.
Fight the urge to hang on to the hard moments by digging deeper and reflecting more on the lovely ones. Refuse to believe that any day is ordinary or commonplace and instead wake up with the conviction that every day has the potential to be monumental and thus is worth celebrating. Decide before your feet even hit the floor in the morning that you are going to see the beauty here and celebrate something in this day. After all, we only get to live every day once. Think about that.
Make the choice to celebrate today. Make the choice to celebrate life!
And let us know how you do it! Let us know how it goes.