In Search of Celebration: Self-Care and Connection
Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

In Search of Celebration: Self-Care and Connection

Celebration in Strange Times

There is a creeping fear that’s been breathing down my neck. And no it’s not the heavy breath of a non-stop-talking 4 year old when I’m hiding for a minute of silence. (I love my kids, but whew!) 

It’s the winter and all it will bring in the middle of an explosion of Covid. The darkness, the isolation, the rituals of holidays cancelled or changed drastically. I can feel it’s pull and I’m scared of falling into the numbness of depression. 

I’m worried not only about myself, but for other people too. My mom had lung cancer and a part of her lung removed in March of this year. Luckily it was detected early, but there is a lot of danger still out there. She is playing it safe and socially distancing, but with colder weather there are new challenges. I’ve tried to be there for her as much as I can while still being safe. It was so much easier when there was warmer weather. We could hang outside and visit, but now that option isn’t nearly as available. I worry about her during this isolating winter. It can be such a lonely time. 

The Need for Human Connection 

Living in the time of Covid has revealed a lot to me, especially when it comes to human connection and the raw defensiveness people have around the connections they have with others. 

My husband, kids, and I have chosen to either NOT celebrate in person this year or significantly change the way we celebrate. It’s not safe. I know others may disagree. There is a lot that I am disappointed in/sad about the changes in how we socialize (and the way people react to it), but there is another piece that I need to explore — and it’s this: 

Connecting with others is often easier done in person rather than online or over the phone, but being there in the flesh is not a guarantee that connection will magically happen. Sometimes being forced into the virtual world of relationships allows us to really see the level of our true connection. Have our connections been existing on the surface or have they been rich and meaningful? Or maybe a blend of both? 

Have you ever been to a swanky and well-designed party that turned out to just be awkward and lonely? What about a family get-together that should be a time to reconnect, but is only painfully rife with disconnection? 

So, should we just cancel celebrations altogether in the midst of all of this? 

NO! 

Celebrations connect and bond us. Over time, celebrations cement cultures, histories, and shared values. They give us something to look forward to, something to be grateful for what we have right now, and something that oftentimes connects to our past. 

Moments of celebration can be fun and energizing. They allow us to be in the moment and enjoy life right now. Celebrations are a beautiful and amazing part of what makes us human. But we need to challenge ourselves to re-envision what it really means to celebrate. 

Re-Envisioning Celebration 

What does it mean to celebrate? 

cel·e·brate /ˈseləˌbrāt/

1. acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity.

That definition seems pretty straightforward, right? So why am I suggesting we need to do something so pretentious as “re-envisioning” it. Because it’s not the definition that I have a problem with, but our perception of it. 

Too often we see the chance to celebrate as something limited. If you think about it – many celebrations are yearly occasions, like birthdays or holidays, or even rarer, like weddings or end-of-life. These events are important, but they are not the only kinds of celebrations worth noting. 

I believe that celebration is a state of mind. It’s the way we interpret and approach a situation that makes it celebratory. My dad had a way of making the everyday something to celebrate. (Not every day mind you…) 

Looking back, I think I had some of the most fun with him just doing errands or staying home. And it wasn’t just fun… it was something special. It was stopping and being present in the moment — grateful and together. He had a mischievous kind of magic where you felt like you were getting away with something singular. And he let me in on the secret — like I was special too — just there with him enjoying life. 

How can we cultivate this kind of magic? What can we do to re-envision the celebrations in our life? 

Two Big Ways to Change the Way We Celebrate:

  1. Celebrate more often! Give life a big ol’ squeeze. Don’t wait for a reason to celebrate – go out and find one. 
    • Cultivate an attitude/awareness of celebration 
      • Step out of your routine and pay attention to potential moments of joy, humor, and play. Dance, sing, joke, stop and take a big joyful breath. Be grateful. 
      • Invite people in to your in-the-moment celebration. Listen to others and celebrate them. High five, laugh, smile, or say something that is true and vulnerable and risk sounding cheesy. Tell people you love them or you like their shoes or that you’re proud of them. Tell them and mean it. 
    • Pay attention to the things worth celebrating (big and small). Things like the end of a tough week, finishing a project, or those times where you feel like you just had a personal win (ex. Woohoo! I handled this parenting thing right.)
      • Be mindful of things worth celebrating in your own life and the lives of people you care about. 
    • Treat yourself (and others)
      • Check-in with your senses and create the moment. Buy yourself some flowers. Put on some nice music. Enjoy a delicious meal. Light a candle. (Ooh this is getting a little romantic. Hahaha.) 
  2. Make yearly celebrations more meaningful 
    • Get to know the people close to you. Keeping more in touch makes annual celebrations less awkward and more personal. 
      • Reach out often. Call. Text. Message.  
      • Collect family stories and share them. 
    • Embrace traditions and try new things. 
      • Keep family or community traditions alive if they are healthy and happy ones. 
      • Make it a point to try out new activities too. Bust out some new games and have some fun. 
      • Honor loved ones who are not with you. Share their stories. Laugh. Cry. Remember. 

Celebration & Self-Care

Celebrations are worth keeping, but we have to remember what makes them so special. The food, the immediacy of in-person, the reach out and touch it stuff is important, but it’s not everything. It’s that feeling of connection and aliveness where our gratitude is palpable. It may only show up in short snippets, but it’s there. 

We need to remember this not only as we navigate our way through a pandemic, but also moving towards a culture where celebration is appreciated for what it does for our health, the health of our loved ones, and the health of our communities. 

Celebrating in it’s healthiest form is an often overlooked form of self-care and community-care. It is a lively form that can instill a deeply felt sense of gratitude, connection, and stress release. And plus, it’s just plain fun. 

I believe in celebration so much that it’s become a foundational part of this project. Social Hours can be centered on deep and rich conversations, but they also honor the power of celebration — and of humor, playfulness, and fun. Human beings need this mix of seriousness and fun… well, at least this human being does. Do you? 

Next steps!

How can you incorporate more celebration into your life? How can you add in more fun, play, humor, joy, etc. into your day? Share in the comments how you plan to make it happen.

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