I learned how to celebrate from watching the greats in my life; from feeling their movements of celebration deep down in my bones. My grandmothers and best friends and sister, my mom and my husband and honestly most often now my children. I have felt it in the great big milestones and the tiniest victories. And I have taken such notice of how their eyes have consistently fallen to attention on the good of life. How they then have chosen to bring honor and fun and special to my days and of so many others.
For some people this thread of marking is their very heartbeat: breathe and move and notice and make celebration on repeat. They find the smallest successes and the grandest glories alike and etch it in history with their texts of congrats and meals of jubilation.
And for others, myself included, it takes a bit more practice of intention.
Celebration, at least the daily shape of it, seems to get lost in the busy of all that surrounds. The hurry of our days steals our ability to take notice of the small and special of today. There isn’t time for that kind of pause and if there was it most certainly isn’t now. We have nothing left to give outside of birthdays and holidays. I mean what more could anyone want?
But the slowing, even if just for a moment, in our busy moments and days and years seems to be where the good stuff lives, noticing one another’s joy, what makes us feel most ourselves. Choosing not to march past the small, but instead to draw close and look for the moments of victory and growth and good. I have found myself fixated on how deeply we can feel cared for and celebrated in the smallest places.
A text of encouragement about something we weren’t sure anyone else even saw, an invited-in meal with a friend because whatever just happened is so worth gathering for, a card in the mail, a hug and a squeal, a delivery of the very best sprinkle cookies that simply scream “we are cheering for you!”, a surprise confetti popper at the most unexpected moment. The ways of celebrating the small are most often less than showy, planned out or costly. But they make their way into heart places that plant deepest seeds of courage. The beating and life-giving evidence of seeing one another.
And in other ways, I am finding that celebration can live, thrive even, away from the mountaintops. The confetti and giggles and chatter of celebration are seen most in promotions or new babies or unexpected opportunity, but I am seeing more and more how valleys of hard can provide fertile ground for it too. Don’t hear anything trite in those words, I beg you. While I do believe deeply that suffering can be used for much good and even best, I also know that sprinkles and streamers may not feel right in the depths.
But I have been finding that looking with eyes of celebration and honor for myself and others in the midst of impossible has brought flickers of light to the night. That reminding someone that they are doing hard things; right here, right now and it isn’t missed. That reaching out for help and saying what feels too much is big and brave and worthy of honor. Or that leaping into the absolute unknown with a trust that can’t quite be pinpointed. Goodness, there is beauty in celebrating those things too.
I have found myself so often closing my mouth or taking steps back to offer privacy or space or freedom from my wrong words of comfort as those around me trudge through the hard of real life. But when I think about what brings in the day to impossibly hard, it’s someone texting a word of celebration in the most minute victory. It’s a dropped-off meal and a hug or a happy bunch of flowers that reminds me of the growth making its way.
We are not alone. Celebration in all its glory reminds us of that very thing. That on the tallest hill of joy and success and in our deepest pit, we are able to find the victories of life together.
This very full life is made to be celebrated, I am convinced of that. We just have to open our eyes to notice and then move toward each other.