Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Celebrating--a time to recapture hope

Gotta hand it to those Americans...they sure know how to throw a party. I watched some of the highlights on the news and on you-tube--the closing song on Sunday's concert led by Beyonce choked me up a little and I'm not even American. But what teared me up was that if I was American, this has been a week of recognizing progress and recapturing hope.

The recession is affecting the global economy, with every sign that the US is more affected than Canada. Times are tough. People are losing their jobs. Mortgages are foreclosing. Business is sagging. Retirees are watching their nest eggs lose value. Some might say that life is too serious to take time to party. Goodness knows, we Canadians are much more understated in bringing in new government--it is a sorry non-event, to be sure.

I'm not of that opinion. The Americans are really taking time to aknowledge what the Inauguration of President Obama signifies. The country is partying about what this means--no illusion that there still isn't work to do. But that work will be done another day--today is a day when people are saying, "I really do know that anything is possible", elderly African Americans are shaking their heads in wonder at the progress made, and honoring the cost that was paid.

In our house, we crave celebration. We have a celebration plate enscripted by Maya Angelou: "Live today as if it were created just for you". When someone has accomplished something, that plate is put at their place at dinner, and we fuss over them. During "birthday week" (who says that birthdays should be confined to a single day?), at our house we celebrate "Birthday Boxing Day" (the day after the birthday, of course) with the left over cake for breakfast.

Celebration allows for stock taking--a time to look back with delight at progress made, and recognize the achievements. Celebration is a time to build people up, encourage each other, choose to "see the cup as half full" and go wild with joy over that. Celebration is a time to let loose and have fun...and during tough times, celebration is more necessary than ever. It provides, as Obama's book title says, "The Audacity of Hope".

I remember during one very dark period in our lives, when there was little to celebrate...the members of our household made a choice one evening to celebrate each other, and to celebrate making it through the day--a real accomplishment. We put on the tunes, and cleaned up dinner with whooping and hollering and dancing up a storm--dish towels were waving, the path to the dishwasher had loops and spins. It reminded us we were alive, and gave strength to the next day. The darkness is long gone, but the joy from that day remains.

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