“Make sure that the good ground of you home includes an abundance of laughter, parties, celebrations, presents, candles, Christmas trees, gifts, surprises, rocky road ice cream, jokes, backyard picnics, vacations, mountain bikes, bike rides, swimming, fishing and games. At the various houses in which our family has lived, we have had things like a swing set, a tree house, a tent, sleeping bags, a basketball hoop, baseballs, gloves and bats.” Seven Habits of a Healthy Home
The Guire family was prepping for a double birthday party when a horrendous summer storm hit. Water seeped into the garage and came showering out of the foyer light. The pool quickly filled with debris. I felt like cancelling and sending everyone home. Instead my extended family pitched in and we cleaned up water, son Damian fished the branches out of the pool. My brother found the source of foyer shower, the huge picture window in my bedroom.
Celebration is a choice. If our family had waited until all the circumstances were perfect before we celebrated life, we never would.
Ecclesiastes 11:4 (Amplified Bible)
He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
This scripture puts it plainly. If I wait for conditions to be favorable, or for everything to be perfect, than I will never sow, nor will I reap. If I want to reap a harvest of memories with my children, then I must sow the habit of celebration over and over again. I never know which memories will stick. Every once and awhile, my children will speak of a bad memory from their past, but more often than not, they share good family memories. “Remember when we went hiking at Cooper’s Rock?” “Remember when we made cards at my birthday party?” “Remember when we roller bladed up and down the boardwalk at the beach?” Each one of these memories were probably preceded by unfavorable conditions.
While speaking to the Mom to Mom group at church, I was asked the question, “Well, what if I plan a fun activity, such as making cookies and my kid says she doesn’t want to do it?” My answer? “Do it anyway!” I have found that no matter what ‘fun’ thing you have planned, there will be naysayers. The naysayers may drag their feet and complain, but years from now, it may be a fond memory. I am often surprised when my kids mention one of these events as a favorite memory when I remember during the actual event he/she didn’t want to participate. Sometimes hurt children are afraid to participate. If the situation is a new scenario for them, they may feel out of control. If the event has a history and the child has bad memories, he may think that it will end up the same way. An example from my life is long car trips. In my childhood these were scary times for me. My father would become tense and angry as soon as we got in the car. I began to associate trips with anger. I didn’t want to get in the car and go to the mountains or the beach or anywhere. Even today, in my adult life, I must remind myself that trips are not bad things.
In her article “Hopes and Prayers”, Joyce Maynard describes what happens to many of us. “We’re so consumed with the feeding, the dressing, the buckling into our car seats, the finding of bathrooms, and the counting of heads,” she says, “that we sometimes forget that there is any greater mission to raising children than making sure the crusts are cut off the sandwiches and that everybody gets a balloon.” Joyce Maynard, Parenting, May 1994: pg. 51
It is easy to get stuck in the rut of feeding and clothing children and trying to deal with each phobia or medical issues, reading articles on attachment, talking to other parents about what to do, etc.. It becomes exhausting and overwhelming. All the joy is sucked out of life when there is no celebration.
Celebration can be simple. It doesn’t have to cost money. It can be a trip to the park. A ride on the trail. A hike to the creek to build a dam. A swim day with friends. What can you do to celebrate today?
The Whole House Team recorded a podcast on this subject!
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