When I was a kid, I’d wake up and go downstairs on February 14th and there at my seat at the table would be a little red and white stuffed animal or a little puzzle or a mug. One St. Patrick’s day, my mom made my milk green. On Easter, I searched for chocolate eggs with the dogs by my side. I grew up enjoying the special days that are sprinkled throughout the year and, in retrospect, I think that was a truly wonderful gift.
I think it’s fun to have a cause to celebrate or make a day a bit more special. It’s fun to get something new or something made just for you. And it’s fun to grow up and want to do the same for others. It’s fun to have an excuse to decorate or make waxed crayon hearts for the windows and I think the stirring up of creative energy can only be a good thing for it brings some play and humor and light into our lives.
This world is a beautiful place, but it is also often dark, and cold, and unfeeling, and life slips by, not because it is short, but because it is so difficult to hold onto. Holidays, rituals, these things demarcate the time. They remind us of the sharpness of pleasure and the nearness of death. They tell us when the sun leaves, and when it comes back.
This world needs more holidays, not less. More ritual, the gorgeous, flexible, non-dogmatic kind that isn’t about religion but about ecstasy in the sheer humanness of our bodies and souls. More chances to reach out, to sing, to love, to bedeck ourselves in ritual colors and become splendid as the year turns around.
And no, I’m sorry. It doesn’t work to say “make every day special.” First of all, most of you know damn well that you don’t shower your partner with gifts and adoration and that most precious of things: dedicated, mindful time every day of the year. Even the best relationship is not a 24/7 orgiastic festival of plenty and perfect moments. No human can sustain it. If every day is special, none of them are. If every day is special, specialness becomes monotony. What makes days special is the time between, the anticipation of a the day, the planning, the surprises, coming together, cooking, playing, reveling in sheer time, watching the dedicated colors and rituals that wire our brain for pleasure spring up in the world to remind us that we live in it. The entire purpose of holidays is that they are a kind of otherworld we step into, full of special symbols, that informs and shapes everyday life–and some of life, no matter how some bloggers would like to deny it in their Grinchitude, is always everyday.
Life slips by, so very fast. Spend it in the practice of joy, not the destruction of it.
Yesterday the kids and I put some hearts up on our windows. Little girl was SO Intensely Pleased and kept pointing and smiling at the colorful works that she helped create. Today we went out walking and visiting friends. Tomorrow we plan to make some more decorations and I plan to try out a new brownie recipe that, once baked, we can deliver to random people (the delivering is the most fun part I think).
Fitting things in to our day is hard and it takes effort, and I’m a bit alarmed at the fact that we are already eight days into this wonderful month that brings longer days, but I love the effort and I love even more that I’m showing my kids how to celebrate and care for others.
And I find I don’t like to make just ONE day the focal point so I figure we can celebrate Valentine’s Day all month (it also gives us some leeway in case the days sneak up too quickly)
And maybe, just maybe my husband and I will seek out a friend to watch our kids so we can go off and enjoy some time together as well.