When we think of “celebrations,” we may automatically think of bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, and graduations. But in a life of contentment and meaning, celebrations aren’t reserved for the social hall. Celebrating everyday moments, even in our hectic lives, connects us to each other and allows us to fully appreciate the experiences of today. After all, we only get one chance to live “today,” so making it the most fulfilling “today” possible requires an awareness of the gifts that today brings.
As an educator, I have found that children possess a very special gift: to treasure the simple moments of life. Joyful celebrations aren’t grand, planned events. They come with a messy splash in a puddle, a familiar song, or seeing an insect through a magnifying glass. The fresh eyes of youth see greatness in the simple moments.
During my days at “work,” I have heard countless comments from students that usually begin excitedly with “Guess what, Morah Tammy!….”
“…I just finished book 7 of Harry Potter!”
“…I just watched a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis!”
“…Can I show you the robot I designed that can help heal sick sea lions?”
One student was ecstatic when he discovered that a Hebrew letter in his name has a special “crown” above it in Torah calligraphy.
A recent exchange with a student was a powerful example of how our children have the ability to celebrate the details more than us “evolved” adults. This student came to my office to share something she experienced during Tfilah (prayer) at school. She expressed that because she was now starting to understand the meaning of Jewish prayer text, she started to feel herself going “up and up and up and felt connected to G-d!” This type of spiritual moment is so hard to achieve, even for those of us who have been students of Judaism for decades! It requires an ability to be “in the moment,” to connect heart, mind and soul, in a way that only a child can.
This experience reminded me that children come to their moments of celebration with vigor and exuberance towards things that can go unnoticed by adults. It is in these smaller moments that the magic of celebration can happen.
For all the time we spend planning celebrations of watershed moments and milestones, we need to recognize that simple, everyday moments are equally worthy of celebration. The everyday celebrations come in many forms; it is up to us to decide what those should be. The child who learns to tie his own shoe, the teenager who get himself to school on time, the first giggle of a grandchild, or finishing the book that you have been reading for months…the smallest moments of life make life the greatest adventure.
TAMMY KECES, MA is the Head of School at Irvine Hebrew Day School and a Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer