Some of my fondest memories growing up are of the impromptu celebrations my paternal grandmother would create, almost magically—as if out of thin air. I can’t even begin to count the number of times over the years that several of our family members (uncles, aunts, and cousins) would “just happen to be in the neighborhood” and unexpectedly find each other at Grandma’s House. A sudden knock at the door or ring of the doorbell, followed by shrieks of delight, bear hugs, and laughter were the beginning of many a surprise afternoon visit.
At such times, Grandma would usually send a volunteer down to the nearest southern recipe chicken place for a bucket or two of fried chicken, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and gravy, of course—and a big strawberry pie topped with whipped cream for dessert. Other times it might be Chinese take-out in those festive, wire-handled cardboard boxes or banana splits in colorful plastic boats from the nearest ice cream parlor. Grandma would always keep several frosted glass bottles of sparkling fruit punch on hand for just such an occasion and, before anyone knew it, we’d be caught up in the midst of a joyful reunion—the kind that creates those special kinds of memories that everyone will treasure forever.
With Grandma, just about anything and everything was cause for a celebration. We’d celebrate spring with window shopping and a lunch downtown, summer with an ice cream sundae—or just the fact that it was Tuesday was enough to justify a trip across the bay for a rich, flaky Napoleon pastry overlooking the water. Offhand, I can’t think of anyone who had a greater appreciation or zest for life—and it wasn’t just for family gatherings or food, either. Grandma would often suggest a spur-of-the-moment trip downtown by city bus, a streetcar ride to the zoo, or a walk through a nearby park just to “stretch our legs” and “see what we could see”.
While I’m nowhere near the master at it that she was, I do try to brighten things up a bit every now and then by bringing home flowers, cards, or balloons for no particular reason at all—or enjoying a quiet drink after work, just because it somehow feels right.
So why not follow my grandmother’s lead and find something to celebrate today? If you can’t think of a worthwhile reason right away, just make something up—or celebrate the fact that you’re you and you’re here today, able to experience life in all its mystery and wonder. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a much better reason to celebrate than that!
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