Editor’s note: Deanna Wolf, friend to former staff member Bridget Higginbotham and previous casa resident and volunteer for the Columban Center for Outreach and Advocacy offers an Advent reflection on the word ‘celebrate’.
“Happy Birthday!” they sing through the flickering of candles, the smell of sugar on the over-iced cake lacing the air.
“Cheers!” we say as glasses of bubbling champagne clink together. “To us!” Another job well done.
“Merry Christmas!” read the words on a holiday card with the smiling faces of loved ones.
Celebrate. It’s what we do as a people. To celebrate is human. Something hardwired in us yearns to acknowledge the sacredness that lies among the seconds that often pass without notice in our seemingly ordinary lives. We want to commemorate the anniversary of the day someone is born, just because. We gather for dinner with friends to send up our glasses and honor one another, just because. We send cards and bestow gifts during the Christmas season, just because. We stay up late to hold on tight to friends, kissing partners in commemoration of another trip around the sun, just because.
Yet, “just because” holds a meaning of its own. It would be amiss to say there wasn’t any more to our merrymaking than this. Celebration brings us together. Once again, we’re around the same table: touching, laughing, singing together. The times in which we celebrate remind us of our connection. They help us to return to ourselves and one another. We remember the significance of our shared humanity. In marking time together, we come to know a sense of belonging, a goodness beyond ourselves. It’s in these moments we realize that heaven is not so far away.
I have no doubt you’ll celebrate this holiday season, and I hope you do! I hope you pour a little more in your glass, hug a little tighter, and send a Christmas card to every name on your list, and maybe one extra. Not so long ago, a baby was born among the animals and straw on a cold clear night, bringing billions of people together across time. The Son of God lived as we do, feeling love, pain, and joy; generously preparing a place for us with him. In our rituals and gatherings, we are gifted glimpses of the fullness that awaits. Why not celebrate?