“The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.” – Alek Wek
Have you ever stopped to think about why we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays? It’s not just a festive thing to do, it’s a way to stop, cherish and reaffirm the things that we value in our lives. We show how much we care about our families when we celebrate their birthdays; we underline how important our relationships are when we celebrate anniversaries; and when we celebrate holidays and other significant days — such as Independence Day, Book Day or Friendship Day — we demonstrate to those around us, especially our children, where our values lie.
Celebrations are in fact a brilliant and joyful way to teach your children what you believe in. And when you incorporate nature and outdoor play into celebrations you’re letting your family know that the natural world, and connecting with it, is important—so important it is associated with the things you cherish most.
Celebrations spark joy, and joy facilitates learning. Win, win. Celebrations include sweet pleasures like food, music, games and fun, helping us hardcode an association with pleasure and joy and whatever we are celebrating. Plus, we know that when nature and play are involved, our children engage all the more in the rituals and celebrations. Win, win.
But celebrations need not be reserved for major holidays, especially outdoor celebrations. The greatest lessons in life are learned through what is repeatedly emphasized in our lives. A collection of thousands of small celebrations builds the habit to celebrate and in turn hard codes virtues and values that help our children develop the way they see and experience their worlds.
There is a substantial amount of research that supports the many benefits of incorporating a gratitude practice into a child’s life, as well as our own lives. When we allow ourselves to celebrate the flowers coming into bloom, the sun shining on our gardens or even the first snowfall, we are essentially expressing how grateful we are for the wonders found in nature. And we’re passing that gratitude practice on to our children.
They’ll start saying things like, ‘we saw our first butterfly, let’s have a celebration,’ and it’s really lovely to see. Children think of celebrations in a different way than adults, and we can all learn from that. Celebrations are part of your child’s life. They help create great memories which will last a life time. You would love to hear when your child comes from their friend’s birthday all the fun they had. They remember each detail. Think about your birthdays from your childhood, you would most easily remember the ones celebrated joyfully and those which have pleasant memories for you.
One way that you could make every day special is, at the end of every day, enjoy and call it celebration time when you can share and honour what you noticed and what you learned together that day. This could be typically coupled with a snack to make that positive link between learning and pleasure.
Get your kids outside and start to celebrate the bounty of Nature! Just start small. The holidays are a great time to test out this kind of practice because there are so many hours and treasures to experience this season. Teach your children how to get into celebrating by going on nature walks, swimming at the beach or just a drive through some beautiful roads, start to celebrate the things you notice, the things you love and the things for which you are most grateful. These experiences energize the children, drawing them deeper into their learning of an awareness of and respect for nature.