A few days ago, I was asked to “celebrate” lupus, the disabling disease that I have been living with for more than 15 years. The invitation came in an email, and close on its heels came one inviting me to “celebrate celiac disease.” Before I could check my calendar, in came “celebrate spring!” and “celebrate pet adoption month!”
A quick Google search turned up even more immediate reasons for celebration, including “celebrate synonyms and antonyms.” I also could “celebrate vitamins,” or I could purchase the book, “Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends.”
Rather than leave my computer, where I am intent upon writing my column for Catholic News Service, and embark on a major shopping spree to find the right apparel for each of these must-do events, I declined them all and wondered, “What is celebration all about, anyway?”
Truly, “celebrate” is not a word I associate with my life with lupus, although God does bring many blessings amid the suffering. I do not have celiac disease, but I know a few who do, and I don’t see them festooning their homes with balloons (not to mention that cake is not exactly their food of choice).
I enjoy spring, as I do all of the seasons, and thank God for the pleasure of seeing nature burst forth, but celebrate it? It’s a bit of a stretch, as is any celebration that involves learning, grammar or syntax. And as for that year of celebrations? I’ll pass.
There are many things that I celebrate, including milestones, such as when I reached age 50, and lupus had not been fatal as had been feared in the years leading up. I celebrate many loved ones’ birthdays, making a special effort to let them know how very precious they are to me. I remember the passing of loved ones, too, not in a high-five type of celebration, but I remember.
To me, a true celebration is profoundly meaningful. It connects me with people I love and it marks special events. I can celebrate when a friend finishes a marathon, even if he or she comes in last place. I can celebrate a youngster, timid and halting, being able to make it through one of the readings at Mass for the first time. I don’t have to celebrate every day, but when I do, I mean it!
When my favorite team or tennis player wins a game or match, I’m happy, of course. When I hear of other good outcomes, I am glad, too. But this uplift to my day does not deeply affect the heart of me, nor does it define who I am.
But give me Easter, Christmas, Mass, where the Spirit moves and Jesus is present, and these I eagerly celebrate, time and again. We only have so much energy, so much time. All the more reason why I like to ration my revelry for those occasions that truly bring out the “Hallelujah!” in me.