I celebrate life.
I celebrate building sand castles on slow silver and blue-sky days and seeing my children hanging out with one another. I celebrate decorating the Christmas tree with family and friends where every ornament tells a story.
I celebrate big monuments and little moments. Large goals accomplished and small baby steps toward a broader dream. I celebrate the end of the week with my twins sipping mochas before their jazz band class. And we celebrated after their recent Zoo Lights concert with Baskin Robbins sundaes.
Our family rings in Friday nights with 5-meat pizza, spinach calzone and cheese pizza, and we continue celebrating the start of the weekend with a family movie night gathering together over popcorn and sodas, which are only allowed on weekends.
I celebrate each member of our family’s birthdays with a party that includes a special homemade cake, candles, and hand-made cards followed by the opening of delicately wrapped colorful presents.
We’ve celebrated baptisms, moving to new Sunday school class, and the start of summer with special meals.
I love to cherish warm greetings and smiles at my kids’ school offered by the receptionist and the barista at Starbucks who makes us feel as if we matter (when I take my twins there).
I celebrate those warm greetings by others. They matter. And, I smile back. It reflects the love of Christ, I believe.
My children have grown up with my emphasis on celebrating every good gift, as God’s Word says, and my husband teases me about how I celebrate every given opportunity.
“You just look for an excuse to have a party,” he says teasingly.
Yup. That would be me.
We celebrated the launch of Muse magazine in October with pizza from American Dream Pizza company! And, we celebrated November with candy (I am after all on a budget!) and while working on December Muse,I brought in donuts – do you see a theme here- food helps us celebrate!
When I became an American citizen, we had a party with my friends and family. We decorated with red, white, and blue balloons and served a Beaverton Bakery cake crafted in the shape of a large Green Card.
And, we celebrate summers by going on family road trips and I savor the chatter in our kid-and-gear-packed van as we see new sites and hike and camp and explore. And, I celebrate vacations with weekly adventures with my kids, locating new outdoor places which we discover throughout Oregon. And, I celebrate the energy each of my boys has. Twins. Double the fun and twice the craziness, and my youngest is like the twins wrapped up into one with so much drive and enthusiasm, I love it and cherish it.
I also celebrated finishing my first marathon 10 years ago. Twenty-six miles. As a mom of five children, I have a lot on my plate. When I told my friend Paul Linnman that I had a goal to complete a Portland Marathon one day yet could not because of my kids, he said, “You use your kids as an excuse.” Wow, now that stung. But, it also jump started my engine.
I am not one to ever want to forget dreams. I got up the next morning and began training for the marathon and completed it that year. I have done six marathons since then, including one with my daughter, and my family has come down to the finish line to cheer and celebrate at everyone of them.
My daughter loves to deliberately celebrate life well. The colors of spring, the first tulip that breaks through the cold, dark earth of winter’s hardness. The Gerber daisies wearing coats of salmon and soft pink and bright orange colors in the summer, and in the fall, we celebrate by cutting tall bouquets of sunflowers from our backyard near the trickling of the creek and bringing them inside.
We are in awe of the season’s transitions. As fall gives way to winter, shorter days mean longer sessions gathered together in our home sipping tea, curled up under warm blankets, reading while lounging on our favorite L-shaped earth green couch while smelling melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cookies baking. All reasons to celebrate.
And, we celebrated with my oldest son when he earned his Eagle Rank in Boy Scouts. We hosted a party with friends and family. And, we’ve shared in the celebration of other Scouts’ Eagle awards.
And, I read about what certain people who make the news celebrate: Soldiers returning home this Christmas to see their children who were born while their dads were dodging bullets on the battlefield.
And, the young woman Laura Scruggs — injured by the propeller of an airplane – smiles for the first time since the accident. The parents of this young woman are grateful for every breath their daughter takes, celebrating by thanking God their daughter is still alive rather than cursing Him for the tragedy.
The family of Lauren is realizing all too painfully that the everyday ordinary gestures of life – even something as simple as a smile – are actually quite extraordinary and something to celebrate. We just don’t always realize this until it’s gone.
As a writer, I stitch together stories that reflect all I see and feel and notice and observe, even about such “every day” events in most households as the family dinner hour. I celebrate the moments that my family carves out together most evenings for meals. During this time, we sit around the table passing overflowing bowls of spaghetti and pasta while using our “good” china. I savor the craziness and chaos and giggling and teasing and chattering and clanging and joking and prayers of my three youngest boys who are home, while missing my two college-age kids!
We will celebrate December 24th by attending a candlelight Christmas Eve service as a family. At home, we will enjoy a simple meal of hazelnut crusted red snapper sautéed in olive oil and butter served with German potato salad, all made by Mama. After, we will read the Christmas Story from Luke 2, as my family did growing up, and sing “Ihr Kinderlein Kommet” and “Stille Nacht,” but maybe not in German as I did growing up.
As the evening ends we will play games, watch movies and go to bed late and get up early.
On Christmas morning, I will delight in the sweet sound of my 8-year-old son Augustin who truly (still) celebrates every breath of life. Young kids are like that.
Throughout the year, my little Augustin storms ahead of us on hikes up the high hills, and then slows to sleuth a slithering snake. He runs into the back yard and hops onto the trampoline with his friends, bouncing as if he were trying to touch the sky. He darts out during recess at school to chase his classmates on the play structure, sometimes forgetting you are not supposed to “run” on the play structure, and they have to remind him of this, but he is all boy and he gets lost in his little world and I celebrate that.
Augustin also enjoys – no joke – replacing my vacuum cleaner bags when they need it, and he does it on his own; he is not cursed by the trap of time and the distinction between work and play. He just lives.
The Bible is filled with references to the value of celebration. Celebrating the Feast of the Passover, celebrating the Sabbath, and one of my favorites – the father celebrating the return of his prodigal son with a feast.
And, of course, the greatest celebration of all – the birth of Jesus – was honored by the shepherds and the wise men so long ago.
They celebrated the birth of a child, the Savior. Our Savior Jesus Christ.
May we too celebrate well this season.
And, find ways to celebrate all year long this gift.
Of a Savior.
Note: This essay also appeared in Multnomah’s Muse student magazine for which I am the faculty advisor and editorial director. Here is that link- Muse December- CELEBRATION Edition