i was just watching Ina Garten on a CBS Sunday Morning segment, and she signed off by saying, “Celebrate Everything!”
This really resonated with me because I have long been a proponent of celebrating anything and everything. I have always loved throwing parties, which explains both why my oft desired gift as a young child was always a tea set, the more cups and saucers the better!
I can remember as a teen and later as a college student, always yearning to bring people together to celebrate something. When I was studying abroad in London in January of 1991, I decided to host 2 parties within the 6 week trip - one just for fun for our entire class and with our beloved professor, and the other one was to watch the Superbowl. That particular party is seared into my memory because it’s where we got to witness the spectacular performance by Whitney Houston singing the national anthem, which felt even more powerful to all of us because the U.S. had just entered the Gulf War and we were all far from home trying to connect to our home country and our patriotism. I was just realizing how different that experience would have been had I been watching it by myself. The fact that we were all together, crammed into a tiny flat, sharing this momentous occasion as one entity, made it something extremely profound and memorable.
My inclination to bring people together for celebratory purposes probably also explains why my career before motherhood was an events planner. There was just something so special to me about gathering human beings in one place to celebrate something in the same space and time that resonated with my soul.
But this isn’t news. There’s a reason why every religion has celebratory rituals that include gatherings of people for significant life transitions like wedding and funeral rites. There’s a very good reason why in the Jewish faith you need 10 people - a minion - to recite memorial prayers and daily devotions. In the Muslim faith, they recognize that while they can pray anywhere, it is important to pray together with fellow members because the act of praying in a community setting reinforces their oneness in humanity and equality with each other.
Any kind of coming together for a single purpose can be powerful and energizing, for people of all ages. After I hung up my corporate/private events planning hat, I channeled my party planning passion in my home. Along with interactive kids’ birthday parties and annual holiday gatherings, we would often have parties for no discernible reason. My daughter would have regular tea parties with her friends, my son often had outdoor football parties complete with snacks and game recaps afterwards, and my husband and I loved hosting impromptu barbecues, apple cider squeezing events, and monthly get-togethers with friends and neighbors just for fun.
Most people got into the party spirit and enjoyed the idea of coming together to celebrate something simple like “It’s Friday!” or “We had a great apple harvest that we want to share!” and things like that. However, there were many times when I had friends who didn’t understand the concept of “Celebrate Everything” and made sure to let me know it. I can still remember the friend who upon walking into my daughter’s Magic School Bus themed birthday party, complete with activity stations and all of us full costume, rolling her eyes and saying ot me, “Ugh, WHY do you DO this?” And the friend who dropped off her son at my son’s Peter Pan birthday party, where we all dressed up as characters, even the grandparents, who groaned at the decorated house and remarked to my face, “Why do you always have to overdo EVERYTHING?” And just recently, we had a last minute get-together and when I brought out the cute little caddy that I have and keep stocked with paper plates, napkins, and cutlery, one of my friends felt the need to say to me snarkily, “Well, you’re just a party waiting to happen aren’t you? Do you keep that ready AT ALL TIMES?” When I replied “yes,” she answered, “Huh. I’ve never known anyone else who did that. That’s…interesting.”
I know now that these people have no room for joy in their lives and probably had some insecurity and comparison stuff going on inside their own heads, but at the time those comments really hurt my feelings because it wasn’t about doing these thing to show anyone else up, they were truly because I believed in the beauty of making things fun and special in life and because I honestly enjoyed the planning and work that went into them. And I still do.
I have to guard myself against remembering those (and many more) disparaging comments and remarks I have gotten from people over the years when I tried to fulfill what I believe is one of my callings: To actively bring people together to celebrate things, whether for special commemorative events or for no reason at other than we’re glad and grateful to be alive.
“Be the celebrators, celebrate! Already there is too much—the flowers have bloomed, the birds are singing, the sun is there in the sky—celebrate it! You are breathing and you are alive and you have consciousness, celebrate it!”
― Osho, Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within
In these times when we can’t gather together physically, we have to make more of an effort to celebrate however and whatever we can. Have virtual birthday parties, graduation parties, cocktail parties with friends. Have a virtual party where everyone watches the same movie and then gets together online to talk about it. Have everyone make the same food so that it’s like you’re actually together and you can experience eating and drinking the same things. Hold an online reunion with sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, or the cast of a play from college. Get in touch with people from a moms’ group or childhood friends whom you may have lost touch with years ago. Connect with other people and celebrate the fact that no matter what horrors are going on in the world around us, there is always something to be grateful for. Find that, and celebrate it. Make the choice to celebrate everything!