There’s a main thoroughfare in Minneapolis called Lake Street. I’m constantly driving up and down this road, where plenty of hubbub exists. There are loads of bus stops, shops, people, and, suddenly, a large cemetery, right in the heart of the city. One of the strangest parts of the cemetery is that two deer live, seemingly, within its borders. For a long time it was just one and now she has a friend.
Every time I drive past the cemetery I look for the deer. Even my kids call out loudly, “Can you see them today??” when they spot the iron fence. And when we do see them, we celebrate. It’s a silly and pure little celebration in the Chrysler van. “There they are! Did you see them both? One was lying down! One was running!”
I know seeing these deer is not a big deal, but I assign it meaning. It feels like a good omen. It provides a small lift. The deer are a splash of magic in the midst of the gray city.
Isn’t this true of most celebrations? They seem so pointless when you look at them rationally. Why even celebrate? When you view them from a wide lens, so many events may seem unworthy of note. And sometimes planning a celebration, frankly, just feels like more shit to do. But without spots in the week, month, or year to stop and enjoy and reflect, so much would be lost. We wouldn’t learn as much. We wouldn’t appreciate as much. There wouldn’t be as much charm in our lives if we didn’t pause for it. We have to punctuate the ordinary with magic. Especially when it comes to celebrating ourselves.
Without spots in the week, month, or year to stop and enjoy and reflect, so much would be lost. We wouldn’t learn as much. We wouldn’t appreciate as much. There wouldn’t be as much charm in our lives if we didn’t pause for it. We have to punctuate the ordinary with magic.
My birthday was yesterday and I have to say, making a plan for a special dinner felt a bit tedious. I made an appointment to get my hair cut and worried about COVID exposure. My partner ordered me a beautiful dress I had my eye on and as I was opening it, I thought, Where will I even wear it? It’s too expensive. Maybe I wasn’t feeling worthy of a puffy designer dress. I could feel the magic getting sucked out of the celebrating in real time.
When friends and family sent me messages it felt amazing, but there was also guilt and apprehension mixed in. Have I done enough to deserve all the love being sent my way? When these thoughts crept in I tried to remember that the best gift I could give myself was a little bit of self-compassion. In that moment, self-compassion meant simply reminding myself that, of course—of course I am worthy of celebration.
Here’s how I found happiness in celebrating yesterday: I asked for what I wanted. I kept it small. I spread the celebrating out to alleviate the pressure of needing one big, poignant moment. And I reminded myself often that, yes, I am worthy of celebrating today, just as I am. We all are.
I tried the dress on and loved it. I wore it for exactly two minutes, standing in front of the mirror, thinking about all the fun I’ll have in it someday. Then I returned to my still warm sweats to eat tacos.
I enjoyed the gloomy, rainy day it happened to be. As I was running a couple of errands I got my favorite sandwich from Modern Times Cafe and listened to my new favorite song five times. I ran into a thrift store because, obviously, thrifting is my thing.
My little kids sang me Happy Birthday while the baby was already starting to fuss because she needed to go to bed. Then the oldest, Georgie, who is four, announced that she wanted to sing me a made-up song about snowflakes. It was a curious, meandering song and Georgie got embarrassed partway through and almost didn’t finish, but it was a high point of my day.
Today I’m meeting a friend in the park. Tomorrow I’m getting that haircut. I’m a huge proponent of a birthday week, not a birthday day. While my partner playfully finds this annoying, I find it necessary. Asking for what I really want feels like another little gift.
Although celebrations are often complicated, and have been made even more so during the pandemic, I think a starting point for learning to enjoy them is paring it back to what you really want. Letting yourself be who you are in any little celebratory moment. And then letting the moment be what it is, keeping in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfect or big to be good.
Celebrating might be a practice. Like anything, we get better over time when we do it thoughtfully. As I begin a fresh year, I’m going to try to bring that celebratory magic in more and more.
Maybe you received some kudos on a project. Maybe your baby slept. Perhaps your teen turned in their homework independently. Or, you cleaned up your living space for the first time in a while. Sometimes a warm cup of coffee and sitting with the good feeling, no matter the size, is the celebration.
Celebrating might be a practice. Like anything, we get better over time when we do it thoughtfully. As I begin a fresh year, I’m going to try to bring that celebratory magic in more and more. I’ll try to figure out what I want, look for the deer, dig out the silly moments in life, and maybe soon I’ll be celebrating a little bit all the time.
BY Meggie Maas - March 23, 2021
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.