Today is my youngest’s birthday. It’s been four days of festivities so far with more to come. She gets a pass on chores today and doesn’t have to eat things she doesn’t like. She has enjoyed three pieces of cake. She says her favorite part about her day is the notes she received from her classmates. She is 5 now and this birthday has been one for the books.
In the past two years or so I have been striving to bring greater celebration into our home, especially for birthdays. I seem to have an aversion to being celebrated, so this year, my 39th birthday, I made some changes. I let everyone who asked do something with me. I ate what I wanted and enjoyed food more than I ever have. I did not cook or clean. I took the time to do my hair. I dressed in nice clothes and savored the wine other people purchased for me. It was a great birthday.
My birthday, and now my littlest’s, created some space between the normal and the extra special. It put a pause on life. The day, and days leading up to it, slowed and life wasn’t about going to the grocery store, having hard conversations and bringing in a paycheck. I didn’t rush. I sat in the uncomfortableness of attention. I savored the friends and family who paused their lives for mine, even just for an hour over coffee. Life was good, sweet and full.
My little one is sound asleep now next to me. It’s an early night for her because she is so exhausted. Being celebrated, changing the mundane to the exciting, is exhausting. She put her whole self into being present for her birthday. She didn’t want to miss one second of it. She had no cares in the world and every person who wished her joy was met with smiles, a “thank you”, and a demonstration of pure joy in the form of jumping up and down.
I want to be like my daughters when any special day arrives. I’m coming to realize that celebration can give us not only joy, but also rest from the normalcies of life. Celebrations, even small ones, allow us to realize that life can be abundant. It’s the toast with girlfriends (Oh, Cheers!), the dish of ice cream after a project completion or the dinner to celebrate a job promotion. It’s the pause we need to remember the relationships we cherish, yet forget to embrace when life gets busy. It’s the joy which overflows when our children decide to be agents of change and advocate for themselves at school. All these small celebrations, or the big ones which last for days, are gifts to our normal lives which recharge our batteries and create more space for resiliency.
With all the celebrations you find yourself enjoying this week, may you pause a bit longer and welcome the moments of joy which come with them. May you find some space to celebrate and to be celebrated. Cheers!