Celebrate the Important

The author Stephen King celebrates finishing a novel with a ritual. He knows when the last word will be written, and he plans the celebration, which is simple (and not scary).

Ritual is important to us as humans. Celebrating should be. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, but when something goes right, it’s a good idea to celebrate.

So this week, when I came back from the photo shoot in Cincinnati, I wrote the introduction, the dedication and put in the final patches of items that needed changes. I sent it to my editor, and then the book’s work was done. Yes, there will be edits, yes there is a lot of work to be done, but the writing part is complete.

I kept working till supper time, fed the cats, and then invited Cooking Man to dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. It was a cold night, it had hailed in parts of town, and we picked out ways through melting ice to get to the restaurant.

It felt good to eat without racing through dinner. It’s good to share a meal when you feel satisfied that a two-year-long project has come to an end. There was hot tea instead of champagne, and pho instead of caviar. But it was a satisfying celebration.

We downplay important occasions. We know what to do on Valentine’s, but when it comes to creating our own celebrations, we stall. Here’s a checklist for celebrating:

1. Talk about your emotions–what was hard to overcome, what makes you happy.

2. Give a name to what you are celebrating. Create your own name for the day if that makes it more special.

3. Plan a special meal. You can share a meal, celebrate on your own, go out, eat in. But it should be a special time where you talk about triumphs and joys, not bills or hardships.

4. Wear something special, buy flowers, or put out fancy placemats. Listen to music that makes you feel happy. Don’t rush through the celebration.

5. Take a photo, write in a journal, do something to remember the day. Feel the happiness in your bones. Let it soak in. You earned it!

–Quinn McDonald is writing another grammar book for a client. She’ll use it for years, but it will never be officially published, just photocopie