by Jane Keep, UK
I felt inspired by Shannon Everest’ blog – ‘Birthdays’ – to write a little more of my experiences.
Birthdays come but once a year. Christmas comes but once a year. Thanksgiving comes but once a year. Easter comes but once a year. A holiday comes but once (or twice) a year. Wedding anniversaries come but once a year. Valentine’s Day comes but once a year.
That we are often raised to feel we are only allowed to celebrate ourselves on these ‘one day of the year’ occasions is deeply sad, as if we only deserve it on that one day, and then only if we are ‘good’ – as I learnt from my own childhood experiences.
That the theme for celebration is limited to certain times of the year feels unnatural: why only celebrate a wedding anniversary one day a year? Why not celebrate the joy of connecting and loving another every day? Why only send someone a Valentine’s card on one day a year? Why not send a card, or some flowers to people you love simply when you feel like it? It’s a little similar to how I have been observing Christmas: that families gather for meals, present giving and celebrations, but just on one day (or maybe a few days) of the year.
I know from experiences in my own life, and observing the lives of friends and work colleagues, that people often count the days to the next celebration. They put a big ‘stake’ on how a birthday or Christmas will be, or what Valentine’s night will bring. These subtle expectations put an enormous amount of pressure on us to ‘getit right’ and leaves an empty feeling on the other days in between when there isn’t a ‘celebration’ to be had, or a need to be planning the next ‘celebration’ or holiday as soon as the last one is over. For instance, people plan and book their summer holidays as soon as Christmas and the New Year celebrations are over, and count the days until their holiday. I was one of those people as I used to need something to look forward to, and would count the days until my next holiday.
Why can’t we make celebration normal everyday? A normal way of daily living, with playfulness and joy – I can celebrate myself, and others, every single day. I’m not talking here about eating huge meals, or laying around watching movies, or buying mountains of presents or bouquets every day, or having to go and eat with relatives every day or week…
It’s about the simply amazing things in daily life – nature, gorgeous skies, a sea breeze, the feeling of silk or cashmere on your body, the feeling of sinking into a gorgeous bath with mountains of bubbles, the feeling of sharing a meal with another, of sharing a moment together, a momentary smile or laugh with a stranger, and the feeling of tenderness, and the magic of God that is all around us 24/7 every single day, and not just ‘one day a year’.