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Celebrate Everything


I didn’t come from one of those “you don’t get rewarded just for doing what you’re supposed to do” type of families. In my family, we celebrated everything. Good grades, the end of a school year, getting a big hit during a softball game…literally everything. I got Valentine’s Day gifts and Easter baskets from my parents until I was well into college, and when DeQuan and I first got together, I tried my best to carry on my family’s practice. For the first year we were together, we acknowledged every month’s anniversary and exchanged gifts for any holiday that warranted such behavior. We always did something fun after he played a good game and even went on a trip together to celebrate the end of our freshman year of college. But, somewhere between year 1 and year 6, we fell off the celebration bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong, we still exchanged gifts for Christmas and birthdays and acknowledged big anniversaries, but we went from celebrating everything to celebrating only what we had to. Celebrating became almost something we had to do instead of something we really wanted to do.

Research shows that commemorating important milestones strengthens relationships. Further, celebrations are important for creating new memories as a couple (especially when they are documented with photographs) (thecoupleconnection.net). Psychologist Suzanne Phillips explains that celebrations can range from commemorating events with ceremonies, parties, or galas to simply extending small tokens or compliments. No matter how big or small, it is important that couples take advantage of opportunities for mutual celebration and find unique ways to show their appreciation and admiration for one another instead of making excuses as to why they can’t or shouldn’t (www.pbs.org). A party or night out on the town, a specially prepared home cooked meal, or even a sweet card or handwritten note goes a long way.

After we got married last summer, I decided that it was time that we get back to celebrating everything we possibly could. It’s so easy to fall into a rut when you’ve been together as long as we have and I looked at becoming newlyweds as an opportunity to get back to the basics of romance, remind each other why we fell in love with one another in the first place, and revamp our relationship for the better. Especially given that we spent the first 9 months of our marriage overseas away from our families, we were literally the only people we had to celebrate with and having things to look forward to kept us excited and upbeat and helped to pass the time. Anyone that has been overseas for an extended period of time knows that it can be difficult to spend holidays away from home and the easy way out is to treat holidays as normal days and not acknowledge them at all. I refused to fall into the trap of not celebrating holidays, especially given that they were our first holidays as a married couple, and decided to make a big deal out of them so that we would always have something to look forward to. We celebrated our wedding anniversary every month for the first 6 months. We planned elaborate celebrations for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. We even celebrated my husband scoring more than a certain number of points in a game and had a mini two person party whenever I would get an A on a paper or assignment. Celebrating together made us happy and gave us time to really rejoice on our accomplishments as individuals and as a couple. More than anything else, it made us feel closer, which is the most important.

Celebrating our first Thanksgiving and NewYear as husband and wife in Italy

This year, as my husband’s 25th birthday approached, I knew that I needed to mark his entry to the quarter century club with a worthy celebration. He has accomplished so much in the 25 years he has been on this earth and I thought it was a fitting time for his family and friends to gather to show him just how much we love him and how proud we are of his achievements. I gathered 40 of the people closest to him and somehow managed to surprise him with a birthday party. The look on his face when he saw everyone (he was under the impression that the two of us were just going out to dinner) was priceless and I knew that I had accomplished my goal of showing him just how loved he is and how much we all appreciate him. It was so much fun to expand our new practice of celebrating everything we can to also include friends and family.

Surprise!

Friends and family travelled from near and far to celebrate the birthday boy

It’s all in the details – Location: Strip, Atlantic Station, Atlanta Georgia. Cake: Forgoodness Cakes. Custom photo collage: Etsy

Close friend and florist, Greg Tolbert of GG Bloom, who designed the beautiful floral arrangements for the event

I want to challenge couples, even if just for a few months, to make a big deal out of every accomplishment and milestone. Celebrating with my husband has made us so much closer as a couple and given us a sense of pride in our achievements. Further, it motivates us to create reasons to celebrate, whether that means me studying super hard for a test to get an A or him staying in the gym for a while after practice to work on 3 point shots so that he will be ready come game day. Having someone to share life with is one of the best parts of being in a relationship, so let’s spend just as much time sharing the good times as we do the stressful times. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and loved and, even more than that, everyone wants to know that their hard work is not going unnoticed, especially by their spouse. Every celebration doesn’t my any means have to be as big as a surprise birthday party, but you’ll be surprised just how far a nice dinner out or at home, a sweet note, or even a back rub will go. Celebrate every holiday and milestone and anything else you possibly can. It’s great to include friends and family when you can, but what’s most important is that you do it as a couple and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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