17 Dec Monthly Practice: Simple Acts of Celebration
The celebration God calls us to never comes cheaply. In times of struggle, celebration can seem frivolous, wasteful, and disconnected, but, as has been explored in this month’s lead article, by intentionally engaging in celebration, we are turning our attention to a deeper, more resilient reality. The call to celebrate is not a demand to ignore the struggle of life. Rather, it is a call to have the eyes to see and ears to hear the One who is always present within life. Celebration doesn’t have to be big. It is the building of an instinct, the strengthening of a muscle. Here are some simple acts of celebration to develop those instincts.
As we eat dinner together in my home, each person at the table mentions roughly five things we are thankful for. We also thank each of the other people at the table for something. In expressing that thankfulness, we celebrate the gifts we’ve seen in our day. In thanking each other person, we celebrate them. If you do not have other people to do this with, it could be something you do in a journal. Knowing that this practice awaits us at dinner time helps us to look for such moments as the day goes by—it causes us to engage in small celebrations daily. At the table, it acts as a catalyst for celebrating each other, the gifts of life in the ups and downs, and the constant presence of God.
Meals feature heavily in Scripture as a central activity for celebration. There’s something about gathering around good food and drink. It can be simple. One thing we’ve done in our home when circumstances allow is a monthly soup night. Each time, we invite different people around to mingle with each other. We also ask them to bring their favourite type of bread to go with the soup. That simple act of asking them to bring something they like naturally lends itself to celebrating the bread. We also instinctively talk about the soup in a positive tone. It’s a celebration of togetherness, ingredients, delight, and often the deepening of connections through the shared experience.
The 12 Days of Christmas
As we turn our attention to the season of Christmas from December 25th until Epiphany on 6 January, it is worthwhile to consider what it could mean to celebrate for those 12 days rather than just the one. Granted, it probably won’t involve the level of eating and gift giving that happens on Christmas Day! Let’s think simply. Knowing how difficult others may be finding the idea of celebration at the moment, what could it look like to take each of the 12 days of Christmas and intentionally invite one other person into celebration by sharing our own joy? I don’t mean having a party and inviting him or her around; rather, in the moment, we can call the attention of another person towards delight and joy.
It may mean being in a cafe and exclaiming to the person next to us about how good our coffee or food is with a beaming smile or singing the praises of staff. It may mean being outside, passing someone else and warmly mentioning how great the weather is, again with a smile. Anonymous notes in letterboxes would be a great approach. Such acts compose a practice of celebration, the simple creation of moments of delight in the life of others. Let’s do it deliberately each day of Christmas.
These are three simple activities: daily thankfulness, sharing food around a table with others, and gifting celebration to others. They don’t require an event like birthdays or anniversaries to act as a catalyst. They can be undertaken with as little or as much fanfare and ritual as we like. While each of them requires clear intent, they don’t demand much, and they can be embraced in the midst of our ordinary, daily realities. They contribute to the building of an instinct of celebration.
Smile. Take delight in these moments. Rejoice!
(Image: By Dan DeAlmeida, CC Zero)