It’s been customary to mark special occurrences in our lives with events. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations and other happy occasions. We also mark sad, difficult events with funerals and memorials.
So much has changed in just a few years. Restrictions made it impossible to celebrate or mourn as we used to do.
For some, that’s almost a relief. We don’t “have to” go to the bother of holding a big party for a happy occasion, nor do we “have to” go through the sadness associated with a large funeral. Years past, it would have seemed shocking to not have the customary gathering. Now, not only is it not expected, but some would perceive bringing people together as being irresponsible.
Does it matter whether we mark special days at all? That leads to another question: Do these events contribute to building relationships or not?
My perception is that both the happy and the sad events build or reinforce important relationships. Life inevitably includes difficulties as well as joy. We get together to share something in common, whether celebration or mourning. Sadness can become less overwhelming; joys seem brighter when we are with people who care about us.
Commemorating special days contributes to satisfying our basic need for love and belonging. Taking part in a gathering of people who accept and enjoy us is one way to know that we belong.
Our basic need for fun can also be satisfied by gatherings, which have a larger impact than the time spent during the event. There’s the planning, the inviting, the food preparation, and discussions of details. Afterward, there are memories, photographs, shared laughs and/or tears over memorable moments, and the recognition, “We should do this more often.” Both anticipation and memories make an event more significant than the few hours of the “event.”
Finally, I think that even our basic need for survival/security is satisfied through some gatherings. The best and the worst of times may be the beginnings and the endings of life. Coming together at those times is a way of saying to each other, “I am here for you when it counts.”
Now that we’ve been required to give up traditional gatherings for so long, this may lead us to believe that we don’t need these events anymore. Especially when we consider the difficult gatherings, such as funerals or memorials, we could rationalize that it’s easier not to do it.
It is, of course, your choice as to how/whether you mark an event. Traditional gatherings are a lot of work. Even when restrictions are lifted, there’s still understandable concern among many about whether it is safe to gather. And it’s possible to mark an occasion—to celebrate or to mourn—all by yourself without a crowd. Or you may choose not to mark an occasion at all.
When you are making such a decision, remember that special events—even the hard ones—can add meaning and depth to our lives. Ask yourself, would it help if we bring people together? Will it enhance connections with others? Is this choice based on convenience? On perceived avoidance of pain? Which choice will be most effective in the long run?
Has your view of how to mark special days changed?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom