Angela Huston

How do people celebrate personal highlights or important landmarks in life? Champagne is often a popular first choice. Winners get showered with bubbly, newlyweds are toasted with raised glasses, ships are launched with bottles broken on their bows, and promotions and major business deals are lauded with champagne dinners or receptions.

On different but still important occasions, new dads often announce the birth of a baby by passing out cigars. Successful dieters show off their "thinness" by splurging on a new wardrobe. Couples celebrate anniversaries by going on cruises, while still others might celebrate a landmark birthday by purchasing a new car or a diamond bauble. These are all ways of rewarding ourselves for notable achievements, for showing gratitude, or, in some rare instances, having the winning numbers in the lottery.

Being motivated enough to do something well and expecting some reward in return is okay. It is part of the balance that makes the musts in life bearable and gives us something to look forward to in the process of performing our daily duties. It amounts to earning "fun coupons" by working hard to accomplish goals and achieve successes, even if those accomplishments are nothing more than finally cleaning out years of accumulated junk in the attic.

Of course, we do not always have landmark events to celebrate or attics to clean, so shopping sprees and cruises may be few and far between. Therefore, it is necessary to find less obvious reasons to celebrate occasions that do not have to include a bubbly beverage, sparkling jewelry, or the smell of new leather.

I kid you not, I saw a somewhat peculiar sign that simply said, "Celebrate Life with Ketchup." I have no idea what the origin of that sign was, but, Of course, my first thought was "Really! That's the best you can do?"

Then I got to thinking about a friend of ours for whom ketchup is its own food group. In the almost 50 years we have known and shared more meals than I could even begin to imagine, we have never seen him eat without adding ketchup to whatever is served (except desserts). His addiction to the stuff is the joke of almost every gathering --- but the ketchup bottle (skip the niceties) automatically goes on the table at his place.

Perhaps he and others with similarly unusual habits have already figured out that landmarks and events are not the only things in life to celebrate. Perhaps being able to enjoy food, any way he wants, is his way of making every meal a celebration. All these years we have joked about his disguising meals with ketchup when, in fact, he may be celebrating his freedom to satisfy his own gustatory choices.

All this thinking about what is important enough to celebrate is causing me to do some serious rethinking: I, too, want to celebrate life in some small, individual way everyday instead of waiting for the so-called big, important events --- face it, not everyone is going to win the lottery.

With fingers crossed, we are all looking forward to being able to rejoice in some way when our current lifestyle returns to what we knew before the covid virus, or at least, close to it. When that time arrives, we should be prepared to celebrate in a personally meaningful way. Whether you indulge in bubbles or baubles, cruises or clothing, or more ketchup, go for it.

However, in the meantime, keep in mind that it is possible to find some small way to celebrate each and every day: got that hair clump out of the clogged drain, yay; remembered to defrost the meat for dinner, yay; finally sewed the buttons back on a jacket, yay; finally finished the 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that has been occupying the table for months, yay!

Ketchup works for some, for major or minor occasions, but if we are talking about personal freedom of choice, I intend to elevate the status of ice cream to an even higher, nobler level, even if it means investing in a new freezer to hold the quantity we will need for what I hope will become an ongoing, daily celebration for a long time to come.

Chocolate almond, mint chocolate chip, ice cream liberally laced with Snickers and Heath candy bars, butter pecan --- so many delicious choices to celebrate each fulfilled day.... You know, I am going to begin my daily celebrations immediately. Look out clogged drains and buttonless garments, here I come!