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What Do You Have to Celebrate?

Is is possible to have nothing in life to celebrate? If your definition of celebration is to throw a party, then yes: there are occasions when it would be wrong to throw a party. These include funerals, hospitalizations, business failures, and many other times that are sad and serious.

The definition

But the word celebration has a broader definition. Here is what the dictionary says:

cel·e·brate verb \ˈse-lə-ˌbrāt\

to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, holiday, etc.

to praise (someone or something) : to say that (someone or something) is great or important

to perform (a religious ceremony)

Examples

Here are some examples of celebration:

We are celebrating my birthday by going out to dinner.

The family gathered to celebrate Christmas.

We are celebrating our anniversary next week.

They are celebrating the birth of their third child.

The book celebrates the movies of the past.

Her lecture celebrated the genius of the artist.

He is celebrated for his contributions to modern science.

A priest celebrates Mass at the church daily.

Clearly, something important must be celebrated. It could be a holy day, or a life event, or something that has enduring value. Our celebration gives that something the higher meaning it deserves. It’s not just a question of having a good time – it’s a matter of seeing the good in that time, and elevating its importance.

The insurance world

From this point of view, it really is possible to celebrate within an atmosphere of sadness. Let me give you an example: as a life insurance salesman, I often get involved in the delivery of policy proceeds. I actually will deliver the check to the beneficiary. You can imagine what an emotional scene this can be, since I am dealing with surviving family members very soon after the tragic loss of their loved one.

On one occasion I assisted a woman who was not just a client, but a good friend. Her husband had been young – only in his mid 40s. He died of a heart attack after suffering through a number of them in the years prior. I think he knew in a way that the big one was coming, because every year he had asked me to get him whatever additional coverage that was available to him. He accumulated quite a number of policies, and was paying quite a price for them, but he felt sure it was worth it.

And indeed, unfortunately, it was. After the initial mourning period, I met with his widow and her financial advisor. She really had no idea about their finances, and was relying on me to reveal the extent of her coverage. I remember going through each policy one by one and identifying how much benefit would be forthcoming. I related how each year her husband would have me add to the total. The adviser was dumbfounded at the number. She was overwhelmed. It was clearly not the amount of money that struck her so deeply – it was the fact that he had loved her so much and had provided so generously for her. It actually made his loss so much more bitter for the three of us.

Quite a guy

But do you know what? From amidst our grief for him, arose a recognition that this man was quite a guy. He had spent most of his adult life battling heart disease but did not let that let that stop him. He built a successful business, raised a healthy family, and went above and beyond to make sure they would be taken care of.

In this way our meeting was a celebration of his dedication and love for his family. I can think of nothing greater to celebrate, and all the more so in a time of sorrow. Can you?