“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey
“If you’re lucky enough to be alive, you should use each birthday to celebrate what your life is about.” – Mary Steenburgen
Each year, my husband Ken and I host Easter and a couple of Marriage Encounter meetings. That’s about all the entertaining we do. But this year we both turn 60, and we decided to throw a party. We are in good health. We’re blessed with beautiful grown children and the ability to travel. Life is good. Why not celebrate?
For a few weeks, the party was our top priority. We spruced up the house and yard and arranged for a tent and for a caterer to bring dinner. We bought decorations and party goods. I made desserts ahead of time, froze them, and picked recipes for appetizers.
I had some anxiety, as I often do. I worried about who to invite—we couldn’t invite everyone we knew. Where would we put everyone if there was a thunderstorm? We’ve lived in the area for decades and are blessed with a lot of family and friends. I was also stressed because we sent out invitations by email, and several people said they never received them. I laid awake at nights worrying.
Then Ken showed me a photo album he had created of our 40th birthday party. So many of our guests at that party are now deceased—all four of our parents and some close friends. Other friends and relatives have moved far away, and we rarely see them. This put the party into perspective. We would celebrate no matter what and enjoy the people who came. I put the party in God’s hands and relaxed.
We held our party on a beautiful evening in August, and it was nice to see so many friends at a happy event. Ken and I had a lot of fun and were glad we did it.
A couple of other recent incidents helped cement my resolve to enjoy life while I can. An older friend, Carol, passed away a couple of years ago, and her husband recently moved to assisted living. The family held an estate sale. Carol was a great cook and owned a tea shop for many years. I looked at her knick knacks, kitchen goods, and cookbooks priced at 25 cents, and thought, “Is this what life is reduced to when you’re gone? People haggling over your treasures?” This was true when my parents passed away too. We put many of their goods out to the curb when the town had a free pickup day.
But no, the stuff left behind is not all that’s left. What’s left behind, the real treasure, is the love our dear ones had for us and the love we had for them. At the sale, Carol’s daughter had tears in her eyes when we spoke of her mother. And so, when I wear Carol’s scarves and look through her cookbooks, I will think of her smile and how nice she was to me and to everyone. I will remember seeing her at parties, celebrating.
I often run a route along a river with a friend, Kristin. Most days, we see a woman with a rolling walker who struggles to take each step. We run past her with a cheery “Good morning!” I have often remarked that she is a good role model, because walking is difficult for her, yet she keeps at it.
The other day, Kristin spoke with the woman after our run. The woman struggles to speak. She is 80 years old and had a stroke two years ago. She has been working hard to walk and straighten out her arm. She said, “You never know when something might happen. Never give up.”
What inspiring words for us! What inspiration to enjoy our lives now. Run while we can, walk while we can, speak while we can. Celebrate while we can.
What have you celebrated recently? How are you enjoying your life?