• Regis O'Neill

Should we celebrate?

Sunday was, by far, the busiest day I have had in quarantine. Aside from being Mother's Day, it was supposed to be my younger sister's graduation day from Assumption University. As if that wasn't enough, it was also meant to be my youngest sister's final high school dance recital. Whew, that's quite a lot for one day! This is a time of year when many of us look forward to parties and celebrations, but things are obviously different right now. How do we come to terms with that?

First of all, my heart goes out to all high school and college seniors. You deserve much more than this time allows for you to have, and I pray that you will all be able to revel in your accomplishments soon. You've earned it, and graduation is a big deal. I remember how important those times of transition and celebration were for my personal development, so know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

That being said, my family thought a lot about how to celebrate yesterday. Would it be too painful for my sisters to talk about or mark their accomplishments under the current circumstances? Well, the answer was a resounding no. We had a lovely day celebrating the women of the house, and I think it did us all a lot of good. This pandemic doesn't decrease the value of our accomplishments and breakthroughs.

To start off, we had a really nice Mother's Day brunch for my mom (classic, I know). We lucked out with the weather, so we got to go outside and enjoy the sun a bit. When we got back, we decided to have an impromptu graduation walk for my sister Lina. I lent her my old high school cap and gown, we played Pomp and Circumstance from a speaker in the window, and she walked down our front walkway holding a bouquet of flowers.

Oh you thought we were done? No, we were just getting started. My other sister, Nathalie, had been working on the dances for her recital for months. We didn't think that hard work should go to waste, so we had her perform them for us! We moved all the furniture so she had space, and even brought up a wooden square for her to tap dance on. It was fantastic, and I was really impressed with her skills.

After some lovely Mother's Day takeout for dinner, we tuned in to my sister's live-streamed conferral of degrees and school mass to close out a long day of celebration. It felt SO different from every other day during quarantine (because it was)! But why did it feel so different? We still didn't get to go to in-person mass, or the park, or the movie theater. What was so abnormal about it? The difference was that we were focused solely on the positive accomplishments and qualities of those we love.

First and foremost, to answer the title question: YES, we should celebrate! What should we celebrate, you ask? Whatever we would be celebrating if coronavirus wasn't around. As I mentioned earlier, the fact that those celebrations might look a bit different doesn't make the things we're celebrating any less worthy of recognition. That's not how things work!

May and June are happy, joyful months in American culture. The weather gets significantly nicer, kids get out of school, people graduate high school and college, couples get married, and dads break out the grill for the first time. School and I did not get along well when I was younger, so you can bet I was the first kid sprinting out those front doors on the last day of classes.

Many of these things are still happening, regardless of the pandemic. The fact that school has been online for the past 2 months doesn't mean that kids aren't just as excited for it to be over! And our seniors aren't any less in need of our love and support just because their year was cut short. On the contrary, they probably need to be celebrated and appreciated now more than ever.

Yes, things are rough right now. I'm not denying that. But does that mean we should abandon all joy? Absolutely, positively not. If anything, we should appreciate the joyful things that this time of year brings about now more than ever. Now is a great time to break out that grill, string up a hammock in the backyard, or go for a nice long walk in the sunshine. Don't let the darkness outside keep out the natural light that this time of year brings.

If you were planning on celebrating something during this time before all of this, celebrate it! Yes, your celebration will look different. Perhaps very different. But it's important to still recognize our achievements and big moments. Trust me, you'll be glad you took the time. Celebrations make for great grounding points!

I hope you're all doing well and enjoying the nicer weather. Be safe, and I pray that we will be together again soon!

God Bless,


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