It’s the time of year for celebrations. All sorts of celebrations. In my own little family we spend early October to the end of December celebrating all of our birthdays and a wedding anniversary that is the same day as my parent’s wedding anniversary. In the same time frame we have many extended family birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We have friends who celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah and sometimes Ramadan, depending on the Arabic calendar. Some celebrate more then one. Many celebrations. Wonderful celebrations.
When my children were young I vowed to create celebrations that would become traditions they could remember and carry on throughout their lives. Birthday parties were always specially planned and very fun affairs. I am gratified that as young adults they have continue to celebrate their birthdays in style. Each holiday had its own special foods. Christmas Eve had its own book and then its own movie. Graduations meant walking in commencement ceremonies. July 4th has a BBQ. The Winter Solstice demands a moon dance.
And so it is with growing sadness that I watch the people of the world fight and argue over their celebrations. If one person’s celebration is not like their neighbor’s, that seems to be cause for contention. The most recent kerfuffle seems to be over the fact that a famous coffee company has changed the motifs on their cups this season and so no longer represents a certain group’s celebrations. I cannot grasp the validity of this concern. Why on earth should that even make a difference? Are these people claiming their own celebrations are now ruined because the expensive coffee they buy does not represent what they celebrate? Perhaps they need new celebrations. Or perhaps the meaning of their celebration has become so lost in material symbols that they themselves feel lost.
November is the month when we of this country celebrate gratitude. There have been many traditions started to help us realize how lucky we truly are. 30 Days of Gratitude is one. Writing a gratitude journal is another. Just giving thanks or counting one’s blessings works for others. It is a wonderful tradition but unfortunate that we only highlight it one month a year. And yet even that does not seem to allow some to look beyond their own lives to really appreciate how grateful we should be.
When I turned the page of my calendar to November, the quote on that page just grabbed me and has had me thinking about gratitude since then. The quote by WT Purkiser stated that it is what we make of our lives that is true Thanksgiving. We are all blessed. We all have gifts. And yet we do not always use them to the fullest. I myself am guilty of that. I have spent years bemoaning that my life was one way and not the other. Such wasted time. On the cusp of this milestone, I regret the time I had spent not counting the blessings I had in front of me. Not that it is too late or I hope it is not. Change can happen at any time. I hope that with this aging, I will have wisdom to see what is in front of me and to do what I can with the gifts that I have.
Now I count my blessings and am grateful that they are many. That I have reached this age. That my children are happy and healthy and living vibrant lives. That my husband and I are still crazy after all these years. That there is no war in my country and plenty of food. That I am healthy and still have access to excellent healthcare. That I can celebrate what I want without fear of persecution. That I do not have to run away from danger to an unwelcoming new place. I have so, so much to celebrate.
In the dictionary, the first meaning of the word celebrate is to “rejoice”. I should not judge any other person’s tradition or belief for celebration and none should judge mine. Just to greet another day is a reason to rejoice. I plan to make the most of it.