Don’t Forget to Celebrate
by Dale Reeves
This month and next are birthday months for our household. A week and a half ago we celebrated the first birthday of one of our three grandsons, Miles Sudkamp, and his two cousins Luke and Liam will be celebrating birthdays over the next two months. One of those celebrations is going to be all about dinosaurs. These three boys are full of high-octane energy all the time as they move from crawling to walking, from babbling to speaking intelligible words. I’ve been working on “Pop Pop” with them for quite some time. And, boy, are they all good eaters! That’s about the only time it’s quiet unless they aren’t being fed fast enough. Occasionally, my wife and I sneak in an afternoon nap while all three are sleeping at the same time. Shhhhhhhh! That’s a miracle in itself.
A week ago my wife and I were babysitting all three boys. The two one-year-olds were sitting in the caged SuperYard, while the oldest was running about and chasing our dog Daisy. One of them cried when the other took a toy away from him. While this mayhem was going on, “Sesame Street” was coming across our TV screen. It’s amazing to me the run this show has had, since our thirtysomething daughters grew up on it as well. Suddenly, as the boys were yelling and grabbing one another, the furry red muppet Elmo appeared and did his “Happy Dance.” If you haven’t seen it, you need to:
When Elmo appeared on the TV, and started singing and dancing, something amazing happened at our house. All three boys immediately stopped what they were doing and glued their eyes on Elmo. Think “Sesame Street” knows something about their secret sauce for preschoolers? Yep. And, I am grateful. For a few moments that morning we enjoyed a bit of peace and calm as the boys were all happy at the same time . . . until the next episode erupted. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Happy Happy Dance Dance
It occurred to me that day that we as a society, as a church, as a nation, and as individuals all should spend some more time singing this song . . .
Happy happy dance dance,
Happy happy dance dance,
When we learn something new
We do the happy dance dance.
These days we hear a lot more gloom and doom than reasons to celebrate. We have to look for it, and we have to seek it, we have to eliminate the negativity from our minds and our social media accounts—and sometimes we have to create the joy ourselves. I would love for these words from the psalmist to characterize our speech every day:
“They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” (Psalm 145:6, 7, NIV).
The Message paraphrases the apostle Paul’s directive to us in Philippians 4:4: “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!”
Could those words be said about you, or do people instead say, “I just hear about all the things that are wrong in the world, and how our nation is going to pot. I just hear constant moaning and complaining”?
Reasons to Celebrate
When God brought his people Israel through some tough times in the Old Testament, he would often have them do something to memorialize his goodness, so they wouldn’t forget what he had done, and so they wouldn’t forget to celebrate—even when times got rough. He might have them carry huge rocks out of a river and build an altar, or establish a special day of celebration and feasting to commemorate how he had delivered his people.
In speaking of the Passover, and how God had delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, God told them, “This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord” (Exodus 12:14, NLT).
As parents and grandparents, that is one of our main jobs . . . to pass on a legacy to our kids and grandkids, a legacy of celebrating God’s goodness to us.
Could these words from Psalm 126 be said of us in our generation?
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:1-3, NIV).
If there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s this: Life is too short. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. We aren’t guaranteed easy retirement years. We aren’t guaranteed that we’ll get to go on that vacation we were dreaming about. We aren’t guaranteed good health. We aren’t guaranteed that we’ll get to go to school with our best friends. We aren’t guaranteed financial stability. We aren’t guaranteed that everything will always go our way and people won’t try to “steal our toys” and steal our joy. So, that means we need to celebrate like it’s 1999, or Y2K, or 2020, because God is still showing his favor and grace on us, in spite of ourselves.
Miles Sudkamp’s other grandparents, Jeff and Cathy, came to the birthday party we hosted a few weeks ago. For almost fifteen years, their golden retriever Copper was Jeff’s trusty walking companion. Just last week Copper crossed the bridge into doggie Heaven, and it was tough on the family, because Copper wasn’t just a dog, he was a part of the family. He brought a lot of fun and joy to their family through the years. Dogs know something about celebrating good things. They show it every time we walk through the door and come home to greet them. We don’t know the future, so we have to celebrate today!
Need some specific ideas? Here are a few special days on the horizon:
August 23: Ride the Wind Day (fly a kite, ride a bike, hop in a sailboat, or just kick back and ride somewhere and enjoy one of the last days of summer)
August 25: National Banana Split Day (self-explanatory)
August 26: National Dog Day (celebrate your dog, or decide to adopt one and rescue it from abuse or homelessness)
August 29: International Bacon Day (decide to enjoy bacon at every meal today!)
August 30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day (did somebody say s’mores?)
August 31: National Eat Outside Day (whether you’re having a picnic, spreading a blanket on your lawn, or eating outside at a restaurant, celebrate the end of summer by enjoying the sunshine and getting some fresh air)
We have today, we don’t know what tomorrow holds, so don’t forget to celebrate. If you wanna borrow my Elmo party hat, just let me know! I’ll be glad to share.