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What is Celebration to You?

Updated: Sep 29

My husband’s mother always mixes up which of her meals are his favorites and which are his sister’s. This can be frustrating for him and for his sister, but I think it continues because he spent so many years giving thanks and praise to Mom for whatever special meal she made, regardless of whether it was the “right” favorite or not. He wanted to be gracious and appreciative, and she interpreted that to mean that he loved foods he didn’t even really like. It’s become a family joke, but I find it kind of sweet that his generosity of spirit is at the root of what is now a frustrating confusion for the whole family. When the Israelites receive manna, they don’t seem particularly appreciative. Even so, the Psalmist sings praise for this miracle, celebrating the gift of nourishment when it was most needed. A number of my Japanese American friends survived interment during World War II. While in “the camps,” as they call them, they survived by creating meals that could be easily prepared and shared to feed large groups. These many years later, it is a proud tradition they celebrate when one of them brings a “camp meal” to a church dinner. What was once a sad survival meal is now a remembrance and celebration of survival and fortitude.

What is celebration to you? Has it changed in the last six months from what it meant a year ago? Never would I have imagined last fall that we should revel and rejoice in the return of children to school each fall, as it might not be happening this fall. Never would I have imagined that the familiar celebrative traditions of Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas might be interrupted or forever changed by a global pandemic. And yet, this is our reality. I suspect the Israelites did not anticipate becoming enslaved in Egypt after following Joseph to that land, nor did the later generations probably have a vision for life after slavery. And yet, here they are, stuck in a desert wilderness without sufficient food and water, frightened for their lives. Still, some provisions are available, and they do survive. Is this reason enough to celebrate? For my friends in “the camps,” it was. Celebration and song were as much a part of their lives in the camps, as were laments and frustrations. Scientists teach us that singing and dancing can raise energy levels even after a long day of work. I have found that praise and celebration can do the same for my spiritual energy. Somedays I put on music and sing to remember hope. Even when singing alone, I find hope in the gift of song. Somedays I list my blessings to remember gratitude. Even when the blessings feel less than fulfilling as I lament the things I miss, I find gratitude in remembering the blessings. For now, that is celebration to me. And that is reason enough to give thanks, celebrate, and sing.


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