Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Joy of Celebrations

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about joy and how ME/CFS has helped me find more joy in everyday things.  I planned to kick off a series of posts about things that bring me joy, and I wrote The Joy of the Outdoors and The Joy of Friendship, but then the project sort of fell by the wayside.

All of our Halloween fun yesterday made me realize that I haven't written about celebrations, which I think are a vital element of joy in any life!

I came by my love of celebration from my mother.  When I was a kid, we celebrated everything, big and small, and I loved the atmosphere of joy and festivity.  My mom was, and still is, a major party animal, so I learned from the best!  When I had kids, I knew I wanted to do the same thing for them.  My kids love our traditions of celebration, and now that we are dealing with chronic illness, they are even more important, a way of injecting joy and fun into our lives, even (especially) when things feel lonely and dismal.

Of course, we celebrate the big holidays, though we've had to scale back a bit since CFS.  We now focus on certain elements of each holiday that are the most important to us - at Christmas, that's decorating our tree together and getting together with our oldest friends for a cookie decorating/grinch watching party (we now buy premade cookie dough!).  On Halloween, our whole family gets dressed up, often with a group theme, and goes around the neighborhood trick-or-treating (I usually just hit the two nearby cul-de-sacs).  We celebrate New Year's Eve at 8 pm since the kids can't stay up late (and we used to celebrate with their grandma who had Parkinson's and also couldn't stay up late), but they love our traditions, with sparkling juice, lots of noisy confetti poppers, and caps thrown all over the driveway.

We celebrate the little holidays, too.  We always decorate the house - over the years, we've collected themed window stickers, decorations, and holiday-themed projects the kids made when they were little.  For Valentine's Day, we give the kids little treats in the morning, hang hearts with messages written on them from their door frames while they sleep, and celebrate with a simple chocolate fondue in the evening, dipping in chunks of fruit, pretzels, and graham crackers.  One year, I even put little edible groundhogs into the kids' oatmeal for Groundhog Day!

We don't need a holiday for an excuse to celebrate.  Once or twice a year, I make our favorite enchiladas and we have Mexican Night, with a colorful serape on the table and a special orange-mango fizzy drink.  We celebrate the start of summer by going with friends to play in a creek after school lets out.  And, of course, there is always a party when we visit their grandma (my mom)!

If Jamie has had a bad week (or month) and has been stuck at home for a while, I surprise him with movies from the library or a favorite treat from the local ice cream dairy or bakery.  Celebrations can be incorporated into everyday life to add an extra jolt of joy to even our restricted lives.

So, next time you are having a bad day or week or month, find a reason to celebrate and insert some extra joy into your life! 

What are your favorite ways to celebrate?


Renee said...

Oh what fun! So many memories for your kids and you and your husband. It was sobering for me to realize that Joel and I do not do special things since the kids all left home except for Christmas adn Thanksgiving...need to as we spend almost every holiday alone throughout the year..except 1. Joel has always been so busy on Easter, Christmas and the night before Thanksgiving....but now he will have more energy! I also realized our celebrations focus on food! Ha! Time to bring more special celebrations into this house...thanks for the reminder!

Sue Jackson said...

Yes, definitely more celebrations, Renee! I'm sure we'll have to make that effort after the kids leave, too - kids give you extra motivation to celebrate.

And our celebrations all center on food, too!!


Pamela said...

I agree that celebrations are essential to life! What great pics you have of some of your family celebrations :)

Toni said...

This was a beautiful post, Sue. So uplifting. I wish I could add to it but we don't do a lot of celebrating since my kids grew up and left home. But I loved reading about yours!

Alison said...

Major props for the oatmeal groundhog!

Baffled said...

How awesome!! I was just thinking about how I want to celebrate the holidays more this year. Now that I have a bit more energy I want to have more fun.

Annie said...

Oh Sue that's impressive! I think Americans generally make more effort with celebrations than Australians but perhaps that's a a gross generalisation! I've just ordered our Christmas tree through Oxfam and I'm really looking forward to getting the festive atmosphere happening. I'm a BIG fan of celebrating as much as possible and I love getting a group of friends together for any reason. I also love a family 'games night' which is kind of like a mini celebration all on its' own! Wishing you many more happy celebrations.

Lazuli~Blue said...

I've never thought about celebrating the New Year at an earlier time...that's such a good idea! We have never stayed up for midnight because my Mum and I would just be too tired the next day...I'm gonna get some party poppers ready :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, the holidays can be tough of course, with all the busy busy expectations that go along with. I'm thinking we need to throw ourselves a CFS party...hand out sunggies, order in carry out, and watch a movie. No decorating, cooking, or cleaning to do!

Sue Jackson said...

Bookbabie -

Sounds like a great idea!!