Posts Tagged ‘Celebrations’

Jeff's parents Jack & Virginia Ross, sister Stephania, and Jeff (around 1960)

Jeff’s parents Jack & Virginia Ross, sister Stephania, and Jeff (around 1960)

Today is my birthday.  Since coming into the world in Lexington, Kentucky on January 28, 1957, I have been blessed in many ways these past 56 years, from a wonderful family to great education, work that I love, creature comforts, friends, opportunities, travel, families of faith, chances to make a difference in the lives of others, and more than I have any right to expect or deserve.  I am genuinely thankful.

Birthdays, anniversaries and New Years seem to have built-in mechanisms for reflection.  What have the last 56 years brought?  What was the past year like?  What will the next year bring?  What hopes and dreams do I have for the future?  Allow me a few minutes of reflective indulgence.

It is impossible to begin to name all the people who have been significant in my life, so I dare not try beyond the obvious influence of parents, grandparents, sister, extended family, my wife of almost 34 years, and our sons.  There are others, of course–many others who have helped shape my life and experiences into more than they would ever be without the presence and influence of significant others.

Even though I look a lot older than I feel, and an occasional car full of teenagers yells insults out their car window as they pass by me while I walk my dog, I am thankful to enjoy pretty good health.  A few unwelcome creaks and issues arise from time to time, some of which are permanent, but not serious.  I could do without the tinnitus which guarantees a constant high-pitched ringing in my ears every hour I’m awake.  I’d rather my eye doctor not have me in as often as he does as a glaucoma suspect.  All in all, though, I don’t have much to complain about in the health arena.

As I’ve recently written about, I love my work, so I have no complaints in that area, either.  I’m coming up on my 10-year anniversary with my company in August, and as long as the company is still here and will have me, I don’t intend to go anywhere else until retirement.  And speaking of retirement, I know a handful of people from my high school class of ’75 who have already retired.  Congrats to them for being able to do so if that was their desire.  Personally, I don’t expect that to happen until I’m much closer to 70–not because it wouldn’t be possible financially, but because I can’t imagine not working if I’m physically able to do so.  I’ve said many times that I intend to live to be 100, so I may as well be productive for as much of that as possible.

Ultimately, I am most thankful to my God who brings meaning and hope, not just to this life, but for the one to come.

Could I find a few reasons to have a little pity party on my birthday?  Perhaps.  The day is booked to the gills with meetings.  My to-do list is much longer than I’d like.  Other things are taking place I’d like to be present for but can’t due to scheduling conflicts.  I don’t know if there will be any time to just stop and enjoy any part of the day for the fun of it.  However, there isn’t much point in echoing the old song of Leslie Gore, It’s My Party (and I’ll Cry If I Want To).  No, I have too many reasons to be thankful, grateful, and to smile every day.

So a better refrain for me today will be “It’s my party, and I’ll smile if I want to.”  Thanks again to all who enrich my life with friendship and meaning every day.  You know who you are.

Celebrate SuccessOur business area at work had a celebration today.  This month marked the initial release of a major, long-term development project that involves about 300 people over several years across multiple business and IT departments.  It happens to be led primarily my my current director and my former director from the IT team I left a year ago.

It is no small task to get a large number of people to attend an event for several reasons, not the least of which is coordination of schedules and the fact that they aren’t doing their normal work for those two hours.  But the leadership knew that many people had worked very hard and long to make the December deadline, and they wanted to express appreciation, give a summary of what was accomplished, and let everyone know what was coming next.  I even got to see my former director dressed up in a Godzilla costume.  That doesn’t happen every day.

Then, to top it off, they surprised us with lots of good food and time to chill out together for part of the afternoon after the gathering.  Nice touch, and much appreciated.

Businesses have a right to demand much from employees.  Ours demands a lot from us and, frankly, we deliver.  But employees can’t just give and give and give without ever getting a little more than a paycheck in return.  A simple “thank you” can go a long way at times to energize someone.  Perks don’t always have to be tangible – in fact, they shouldn’t always be tangible.

So, even though our small team had little to do with this particular success, I tip my hat to the leadership for choosing to take the time to include everyone in the respective areas in a time of thanks and appreciation.  That goes a long way.

Leap year lesson #354 is Celebrate success.

Today we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday.  My wife, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter joined me at Jean’s apartment for a simple lunch, some birthday ice cream cake and some time together.  Jean likes White Castle burgers, so we surprised her with some and all enjoyed them (except my daughter-in-law who doesn’t like them).  Then we brought out the tasty Dairy Queen ice cream cake and enjoyed that as well.

We had a gift of a custom photo book my wife had put together of photos from a trip she and Jean took recently.  We got to hang out for a couple of hours and just spend time together with much of the focus as usual on my granddaughter who never fails to entertain.

Walking away, my wife and I were pleased with the simple celebration of her mom’s birthday.  The food was good.  The gift was good.  The best gift, though, was time with those we love.  Jean hearing her great-granddaughter tell her “love you, Mawmaw” surely melted her heart as it did mine.  Hugs and kisses from 20-month-old Abby are always the best gifts.

Occasionally I hear of and observe others spending massive amounts of money on celebrations of various types from weddings to birthdays to anniversaries and other occasions.  Sometimes the amount spent just seems obscene to me and poor stewardship.  There are more important things to do and focus on than elaborate externals.  There can be beauty in simplicity.

Leap year lesson #312 is Simple celebrations can be best.

We celebrate many things. Weddings, for example, are great times to get together with friends and family and enjoy two people committing their lives to each other. We celebrate accomplishments educationally with graduation ceremonies. We recognize promotions and certifications professionally. We belong to various organizations that celebrate in their own ways what they value as important. Even as individuals we may choose to have a public or completely private celebration of some personal achievement.

Throughout life we celebrate milestone birthdays and anniversaries. As we watch young children grow, we celebrate new development and growth milestones – seeing the first smile, getting that first kiss, taking those first steps, etc.

Celebrations are good, even though they may be repetitive. How many times have we sung “Happy Birthday” in our lives? Yet, we know we will do so again many times and we’re OK with that. How many times do we plan to celebrate New Years? Probably as many New Years as we will experience. How ridiculous would it sound for someone to tell us “Oh, I’m not celebrating New Years this time. I’ve already done that.” Huh? We’d think such a thought was crazy. It’s a time to celebrate!

Today is Easter Sunday. For my fellow believers, it is a time to celebrate what is at the core of our faith – that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, defeated death and rose again having been crucified on our behalf to take the penalty for our sin. Easter is a time to celebrate the promise of resurrection for all who repent of their sins and place their trust solely in what Jesus has completed on our behalf.

The songs sung in Easter worship this morning have been sung by millions for many years. They will be repeated again next year. And we’re OK with that. In fact, we need to do that as a regular reminder of what we believe and what binds believers together.

So regardless of the context, recognize the value of celebration, even the repetitiveness of some celebrations year after year. Some of them never get old, nor should they.

Leap year lesson #96 is Celebrate what is important again and again.