Monday, February 4, 2013

What a Crisis Can Teach Us About Celebrating.

About six years ago I was sitting at a red light muttering to myself.  

No, I did not need to be referred to an asylum. But I had been getting myself very worked up about an upcoming birthday party for my almost 6 year old. (Jacob)

The endless to do list was swirling in my head as I remonstrated with myself  about planning a party for 18 kindergarteners in my house in a particularly snowy December. As I pulled up to those traffic lights, I was stressing about the weather and the games, party gifts, food and home made birthday cake.

And while that nagging voice continued, I suddenly had an epiphany.........
I know that seems rather a grand word when thinking about a Lego themed party, but bear with me.....

I started to think about all those times when I had dropped all my plans to rush to a crisis.

I was reminded of the time eight years earlier when we lived in Hong Kong. I had received a call from London that my father was dying and I should come home. I threw clothes into a suitcase, Jonny found me a seat on a plane and within 3  hours I was on a fourteen hour flight to Heathrow. There was no time to stress, plan or think. I just did what had to be done, no questions asked, no second guessing and definitely no muttering. I just wasn't sure if I would get there in time to say goodbye. (Thankfully, I had 3 days with my Dad.)

Mulling over this scenario, I realized that when something sudden, bad or tragic happens we stop whatever we are doing and run to help.

When someone is hurt, in emergency surgery or receives terrible news, we do not hesitate to stop what we are doing and rush to their aid. We grocery shop and babysit. We organize food delivery. We cook up a storm. We rally without a murmur, a hesitation or a mutter. We gather around and give support, love and comfort.

And thank goodness we do.

It is in our hearts and nature to want to soothe, calm and be present at these very difficult times. There is often no planning involved. There is no hesitation. The situation demands that we respond immediately.

And we do.

Yes. We do.

But celebrating is a whole different matter.

We can choose to celebrate an occasion or not. We can choose to plan a party or not. We can also choose to mutter...or not.

 And that is when I realized how lucky I was to be able to choose to plan a party for my six year old. How wonderful it was to celebrate this milestone and that was what I was going to do. What I had chosen to do. And damn it, I was going to enjoy the process too, instead of feeling that it was a dead weight around my neck!!

This change in perspective has changed the way I think about celebrating. Since that time, as many of you know, I have responded to many crises within my family:serious and scary  surgeries and my husband's struggle with trigeminal neuralgia and recovery from brain surgery. Many of our friends stopped what they were doing and responded to our needs each time. They rallied around our kids, bringing meals and keeping me company at various hospitals. And I have supported my friends through heartbreaking crises of their own.

The truth is, I have learned that we have little control over all these things. The crap will come at us whether we like it or not. Our loved ones will get sick. Our children may need surgery, our friends may experience painful divorces, loss or heart wrenching issues with their parents or spouses or  children. We can rarely control when these things will reach a messy, unwanted crescendo.

But celebrating is completely within our control.
Jacob with Aron just before Senior Prom

And so as our middle son Aron (the firefighter and EMT) heads in to his high school graduation weekend, this coming weekend, we have chosen to celebrate.

We will celebrate with the School on Friday morning. We will celebrate with our synagogue community on Saturday morning. We will celebrate with Aron's friends and ours at out home on Saturday afternoon and we will celebrate with the entire school community at graduation on Sunday afternoon.

 A weekend of celebration seems the least we can do to balance out the illnesses and challenges we have responded to and endured.

Yes, it has taken a huge amount of planning, on the school's part and on the synagogue's part. I have been preparing Aron's party and Jonny my hubbie has been busy too (since he is also the Head of School and is giving the graduates their commencement speech.)

 So, it will be a beautifully, sweet moment to see Aron hug his healthy father as he hands him his graduation certificate. 

 And I will shed a tear or two of joy (and not utter a single mutter) as I watch this wonderful, carefully planned, celebratory moment unfold.

Tell me about a special celebration you have planned.

Have a wonderful week. I hope you can find something to celebrate. Let me know below!


You might also find these posts interesting:-

Protecting Your Loved ones From The Hard Knocks Of Life

Two Things I Have learned from A Rookie Firefighter

Boys and Their Bedrooms

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  1. have a wonderful weekend of celebrations. And you are so right on this one.

    1. Thanks Rachel. Yup. Sometimes we just need a reminder! Gillyxx

  2. I have planned many of events. Weddings, social events, etc - but I think my most rewarding events were my own children's birthday parties. I like you, muttered under my breath. I don't like having so many kids in my home. It's just annoying. However, during the party - seeing the kids faces, seeing them enjoy playing together - and seeing my kids happy faces.

    It makes it all worth it.

    1. Yes, when all that planning comes together and see everyone's delighted faces, you know it was worth all the effort. I just need to remember during the effort part, to enjoy the process too. :-)
      Thanks for commenting.

  3. That is why I love Shabbat. It gives us a choice to celebrate every week.

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