People say stuff like, "Humans have been having babies since the beginning of time. Why does the ability to procreate deserve photographic announcements, gender reveal parties, professional maternity photo shoots, and the like?"
They say, "Graduating from high school is the norm. You shouldn't be celebrating it with senior pictures and huge grad parties. Why should we celebrate something that's so expected?"
Birthday parties for adults, and all manner of other celebrations, also get a bad rap. The argument, by and large, is that having big parties and inviting the extended family over just for a gender reveal is overkill. That elaborate photo-shoots for "small" occasions are narcissistic. That people who frequently post on social media about how happy they are and the cool little things that make their day are making big deals about nothing and are merely selfishly trying to rub their happiness in the faces of those who aren't quite so happy.
If you know me, you'll already know that I happen to disagree that all of the "excessive" celebrating going on is a mark that this generation is ridiculously self-absorbed. I say, bring on the celebrating, and the photos, and the statuses about what makes you happy, because it gives me a chance to participate in your life more than I could otherwise. To me, your life is a big deal, and I want to celebrate with you.
If you're grouching about how many family photos so-and-so is posting on Facebook, do them a favor and unfriend them. When it comes to the people I love, I look forward to seeing their little ones--even when they're doing the most not-amazing things. You'll never hear a sarcastic, "They're acting like he's the first baby who ever turned 1." from me. Angel regularly messages his brother to let him know that we haven't seen enough of our nephew lately. Just last year, I hosted this graduation party for my cousin and celebrated the fact that she was done with high school and was going on to spend some time abroad. A few years before that, I broke all manner of etiquette rules and hosted a joint high school and college graduation party for myself and my little sister. She had just recently arrived in the USA and we got to see all sorts of old family friends--it was an absolute blast.
Chinese character bedecked cookies in honor of my Mandarin degree. Because my guests didn't know Mandarin, I wrote random characters like dog, cat, old, fat, fur, wash, etc. I had a blast!
I remember being asked what the occasion was when I invited some friends to a bonfire party a few years back. I couldn't think of one at first--but then I answered, "It's not snowing!" I swear, every day it's not snowing in Michigan, that's a good enough reason for a party. To some, that's selfish, narcissistic, and wasteful. I do not know why. Money I spend on feeding my friends and family is never money wasted, and Saturdays I've spent getting ready for a party are some of the most enjoyable Saturdays in my memory.
I, like every adult, grew up during the days of film cameras. My first birthday photos? Three pictures of me sitting in a kiddie pool at home. The 4x6 pictures are half black because something was wrong with the camera that day. Now, professional photography and DSLRs are expensive, but I'm glad that photography has advanced so much that we can have better photos of little events throughout life. True, there aren't great photos of my childhood, and if we go back a little further--almost no pictures of my dad as a kid even exist. The lack of great photographic evidence didn't hurt us any, but nice photos of what life is like are fun! A 1st birthday party may not be a world-shaking event, but high quality photos of it can mean a lot to a mom whose kids are turning into adults before her eyes. I don't have a DSLR, and the last time we hired a professional photographer was for our wedding. I'm so glad we did. I love our wedding photos. The last time my parents brought our family to a professional photo studio for family pictures was after my freshman year of college. To this day, I still see my mom looking through the photo album we bought from the studio. I know that those photos (and yes, they cost money, and yes, there was no special reason to photograph the family) bring her so much joy. I love those photos, too, even when the photographers finagled us into rather silly poses with bubble backdrops...
There's plenty in life that heart-breaking. Some days I get the kind of news that feels like it shakes the very ground I stand on. The ability to celebrate is a privilege that I don't take lightly. I will persist in celebrating the big and the small in my own life and the lives of people I love--with photos, with parties, with whatever means I have at any given moment, because to me, it's worth it. Celebrating with others is how I show I love them. I'm already planning goodbye parties for a few special individuals who are moving to the USA this summer--that in itself is not entirely a happy event, but we're going to celebrate together while we can.
My sister Rebekah is turning 16 tomorrow. I hear she has an epic non-birthday party planned. I didn't get the full story on why the party is themed as a "non-birthday" party, or what exactly that means, but I'll find out sometime. I did find out that the party is intended to be a heavy feast followed by an all-nighter devoted to board games and party games. How I wish I could be there, because Rebekah's life demands celebration.