As adults, we hesitate before answering that question. It’s an adult reflex. But ask any child that question, and you’ll not only get a prompt response, you’ll get an accurate one, right down to the half-year.
“How old are you?”
No hesitation, no baggage. Proud of the progress in between birthdays. Some children even celebrate their half-birthdays with a party in the middle of the year. And why not? Why should we wait for an entire year to pass before we celebrate the progress we’ve been making? If anything, we need more reasons to celebrate our lives.
In 2011, February 3 marks the start of the Chinese New Year 4709. It is the Year of the Rabbit. It excited me to think that 1) the Chinese calendar was celebrating its 4709th year, and 2) that I could have another chance to wish myself and others a happy new year. So I decided to have a little celebration with my middle school students.
The morning of February 3rd, as my students arrived, I wished each one “Happy New Year!”. At first they looked at me like I was a little crazy, but I explained the occasion and gave each one a little present – a bag with little treats (Kit Kats in their familiar red wrapping and gold-wrapped white chocolates (red and gold are traditional Chinese New Year colors), a couple of fortune cookies, and a Chinese zodiac for kids with each student’s zodiac sign and characteristics highlighted). Not exactly a traditional gift, but that was okay.
The kids were surprised and delighted to receive my gift, and everyone was interested to learn more about the zodiac and what their fortune cookies might reveal. It gave us all a little excitement and something to talk about. To celebrate something on a day that we had nothing usual to celebrate gave us all a simple, unexpected bit of fun. And part of the fun that I had was in learning more about the holiday and putting little treats together to give my kids.
We need to celebrate more. Life is for celebrating and appreciating; for joy and lighthearted fun. My husband and I go out to dinner on Friday nights. We started to do this because I wanted to end my work week and begin my weekend with a reward of time for just us and a dinner out. The tradition is that I treat on my payday and he treats on his.
Sometimes we will go to P. F. Chang’s, an Asian cuisine restaurant chain, and when we are greeted, the first thing the host asks before seating us is, “Are you celebrating anything today?”. I know the anticipated responses are “birthday” or “anniversary”, etc., but my response would have to be “made it through another work week” or “happy to be with my husband” or “someone else is making dinner for me, and I don’t have to clean up afterwards!” or, at the very least, “it’s Friday”. So easy to give a reason!
You know, it’s refreshing to be asked that question, “Are you celebrating anything?”, because it alerts us to the fact that we could be celebrating something. And why not? There are plenty of reasons to celebrate, even if it’s celebrating that, with all of modern life’s challenges, we just made it through another day. Finding a reason to celebrate is really not difficult; we just need to remember to do it more often.