Actually, I do. However, it is not all I mean. Although I intended this for May, something else was in my mind. That is hardly a thunderbolt, yet at the time of its postponement, this letter to you went so far into hiding that it failed to be relevant again in June. Of course, I might have held its value higher had I been able to find it, for I was irked when I coursed through my files, and discovered it missing. Now, as we sit solidly in the joy of July, I want to speak to the reluctant post's theme.
With July's barbecues and bare feet, pools and lakes, gardens and vacations, the post I postponed is pertinent at last. It reappeared like a stubborn weed, so pretty that one couldn't be sure it was a weed at all. In short, I am relieved I found it. Its purpose is Celebration, and here I intentionally spell it with an uppercase C. According to Webster, celebrate goes back a good deal further than Middle English, whence it came to us as celebraten, which morphed from the Latin celebrātus. Perhaps a majority of us does not think too much about the meaning; we celebrate our birthdays, Mother's Days, Father's Days, religious holidays, and so on. The mood is carefree or somber, depending on the occasion. Food and gifts are often involved, as are gatherings of family and friends beyond the number who can crowd around one dinner table. We aim to have fun, avoid conflicts arising from old misunderstandings and patterns; overfill our plates and make a few too many trips to the cooler or the bar. Should we do these things? Why not? We're celebrating!
There is more to Celebration than firecrackers or candles on a cake. Celebration suggests coming together in honor of someone or some thing. Praise may be in order, as well as prayer, story-telling, recollection and reflection. In the bold light of this latter context, I was profoundly moved by Independence Day this year, 2023. Earlier, there was a similar sensibility for Mother's and Father's Day. My fine parents left us and the planet in early 2006. Since then, on their holidays, Celebration went largely unnoticed by folks with whom I interacted in some way. Nonetheless, the folks were present and alive, which is how I think of them. I do give them my attention on days that call for commemoration. This year, my notice of them was more ... internal. No tears, deep sighs, or pouring through albums. And it was good.
Fourth of July, too, was quieter this year. Oh, there was no dearth of spectacle, loud voices, loud cars, and motorcycles late into the night, but again and again I asked myself if all this expression were in earnest observance of the birth of a nation. Is it cynical to say No, at least without serious research? No, it is not. In some spheres it is now unpopular to love the U. S. of A, the country in which I was born and still believe to be the most daring sort of place. It is one that has in its founding a stand against tyranny and oppression; a country that in many ways learned from its transgression and sin along the way to its 250th birthday. To dwell on what is currently a nation in upheaval belies my point about celebration. I can keep alive people and places and ideas to celebrate only if I continue to venerate them. Maybe that's true for us all Absent loyalty to sterling principles, demonstrated in the courage to speak out against wrong and champion what is good, there is little to celebrate. We need a focus for praise, awe, respect, or love. Indeed, in a real sense, isn't what we ignore a thing left to die? In its place comes a selfish, callous response, a reaction to an action without definition, boundaries, mores, and--ultimately--without hope.
In my age, I know that I must love every day, appreciate as much as I can every day, catch myself if I fail, and then appreciate myself for that moment of clarity. I embrace the grand feeling of awe. I Celebrate my life, I have made it a habit, though I will always follow it imperfectly. Even so, when I am in Celebration, I am moved to marvel at the abundance of what I find to celebrate. There is only so much time. It is never enough.