Monday, May 13, 2013

Celebration as Gratitude Practice

I used to be really cynical and could often be found pontificating about how the Ford Enterprise is to blame for our collective addiction to consumerism and the epidemic of materialism. In truth, I do still sneer when the streets of LA and its storefronts are littered with flower arrangements and coordinating helium balloons every few months.

It was my birthday recently, and for the first time in many years, I wanted to celebrate with a party. In planing and preparing for it, I came to understand something intellectually that I had overlooked in years past:   The party was really a celebration of the community I have built here, the people I have come to love and the  gratitude of having both.

 This party could have happened 3 months from now, 5 days ago or 16 hours from the moment I post this blog. What mattered most was that a group of people (some of whom were strangers to each other) got together to enjoy in good company, good food and a chill time together.

A student of mine said to me yesterday,  "Mother's Day is just another Hallmark ploy." I gave her a familiar smile. Part of me agrees, and yet another part of me is enjoying playing up all of these incidental holidays...teacher appreciation week, nurse appreciate day, father's day, flag day.

As humans, we delight in smothering things with meaning. If the intention is to celebrate an aspect of our culture, the roles of people in our lives, and the symbols we have donned to create sense in an otherwise bewildering what?

While I don't think we need to cut down trees, process them into paper and send a greeting card for every thing worth celebrating...holding a celebration to acknowledge these things in our lives that we adore, that's a worthwhile cause in my book.