As each year draws to a close, our calendars light up with one occasion after another. Semesters are ending, the workplace is ramping up or wrapping up, airports and highways and malls get crowded, and there’s something different in the air.
For some, the holidays are a magical season. A flood of traditions, reunions, and special memories created with the people we love. For others, it’s a time of sadness, pain, or regret. We’re acutely aware of what we have or don’t have. We might wish these occasions would last as long as possible. Or we might want to fast forward to the new year.
Celebration is at the heart of the holiday season, but it often gets lost amidst a flurry of feelings, activities, and distractions.
What would it look like if you really took celebration seriously this year?
Why We Should Stress Celebration
Most people do not know how to celebrate well! Workaholics may feel restless or be bored by a less productive pace. Relaxaholics embrace vacation mode, but they often miss the true joy at the heart of these occasions.
Both types struggle with celebration because it involves ease AND effort.
The ease of celebration is like a pressure release valve for our lives. It gives us perspective, keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously, and allows us moments of lightness and levity. We get to enjoy and share laughter, music, and creativity with family, friends, even strangers.
At the same time, celebration is more than just “time off”. In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster explores how celebration is a discipline to be practiced. He writes: “The decision to set the mind on the higher things of life is an act of will.” It takes conscious effort to do all the things necessary to make celebration happen, and to navigate all the obstacles along the way.
Celebration Sustains Us
Moments of celebration are good for us physically, relationally, mentally, and spiritually. (We may find ourselves stretched financially – a good reminder for simplicity – but that’s a principle for another day).
After rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the ancient figure Nehemiah told his people, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10).
All of us carry a heavy burden. Thankfully, God-given disciplines like celebration help lighten our load. Foster puts it this way: “Celebration gives us the strength to live in all the other disciplines.”
A Celebration Checklist
So before you go on autopilot through each festivity this year, take a few moments to set a clearer intention for how you might want to celebrate more fully:
- Make a list of things you can celebrate. Start with the easy stuff: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. Then move on to jobs, promotions, progress in relationships, small wins. Be sure to include others in your list. Celebrating the lives and milestones of the people around you can be even more rewarding than your own!
- Ask yourself: how can I celebrate these things better? Maybe you need to be more intentional. Maybe you need more creativity. (Whatever you come up with should be life-giving rather than draining).
- Take what you’ve started and share it with someone. Get feedback from your wife, your kids, your friends, your parents. Get them to get excited about celebrating with you. And keep each other accountable as you put the plan into action!
There are so many things in life to manage and distract and worry about and toil away at. Allow yourself these important markers and moments to really experience joy, and let them sustain you throughout the year.
The Unravel team celebrates people like you – who take their futures seriously and want to become better men.