People like a good party. And why not? Parties are celebrations; they celebrate significant milestones, achievements, and events along this interesting road called life. They can also be a sign of relief (phew, made it to graduation after all). We celebrate many things: birthdays, anniversaries, awards, promotions at work, new beginnings, and sometimes we even celebrate endings, like divorce.
Some celebrations are low-key, dinner with family and friends, for example, while others are enormous bashes that require caterers, decorators, clean-up crews, and nerves of steel, like weddings.
We’re going to look at five of the biggest events in the average person’s life, and how they might be celebrated.
High School Graduation
There are arguments to be made for turning thirteen, and many a girl still wants to celebrate that sweet sixteen, but arguably the first really big event in life, the first major achievement (after walking and talking and toilet training), has to be graduating from high school.
High school is a challenge, socially and academically. Our high school experiences shape our lives forever. High school is also the first springboard to adulthood. Surviving high school, even if only by the skin of your teeth, deserves a celebration.
Most kids know exactly how they want to celebrate graduation. It usually involves kegs of beer, some tequila, loud music, dancing, and getting close and personal with someone else’s hot bod. Often they get their wish, or some of it, at least. But there are several steps that need to be taken before they can wake up the next day with a hangover that makes the movie look like child’s play.
For example: there may be civilised tea with the teachers and school faculty members, followed by tea with gran and grandpa, followed by dinner with mom, dad, cousins, aunts and uncles, after which they are finally allowed to let their hair well and truly down.
The 21st birthday is still an important rite of passage in life. The key to life may be a little sentimental, but there are certain instances in life when sentiment should be tolerated and this is one of them. Twenty-one is an important legal age. In most states in the US, it’s the legal drinking age (although many other countries put that at 18 or even 16 years old). It’s the age when you take legal responsibility for everything; you can rent an apartment in your own name, buy a house, adopt a child, get married without parents’ consent. It’s a big age and it deserves a big party.
Some people go truly large and hire party venues, complete with catering, flowers, themes, décor, and the like. It’s the kind of shindig that requires planning, sometimes even professional planning.
The average celebration tends to be smaller, with parents hiring a restaurant for the night and inviting long-lost friends and family. When the adults flag, kids go on to party elsewhere.
It’s like high school, only bigger. Graduating from any tertiary education institution, be it a vocational or TAFE training institution or an Ivy League university, is a significant achievement. It marks the true end of childhood as you stand on the cusp of adulthood responsibilities. You have laid the foundations for a career, yes, but you have also laid the foundations for your personal life and that’s no mean feat.
For a lot of people, university graduation parties are their last chance to cut loose with complete abandon before they settle down into a serious job, so it usually ends up being quite an affair. Again, there are some niceties to be observed: perhaps a formal tea with faculty, tea with gran, and so on. There’s the dinner with parents – you have to have dinner with parents; they made sacrifices to put your through university and they lived your exam stress with you, they deserve the celebration just as much as you.
Then there is the party with friends, and boy is that a party.
Getting married is a big deal. It should, ideally, be a happy occasion and worthy of celebration; it doesn’t matter whether you choose a small, intimate reception or a huge reception with everyone you’ve ever known since primary school.
For especially big weddings, many people turn to professional wedding planners to help them get everything arranged and to ensure that their big day is as perfect as possible. In fact, many venues these days offer ‘consulting’ services to help the couple with everything from the flowers to the cake.
Not everyone likes to hand over the reins for such an important day, especially when they’ve been imagining their wedding for years. These people (and they’re not just brides) usually know that weddings require a great deal of planning and coordination and so are prepared to put in the work.
If you’re not going to hire a planner, and you underestimate the planning required, make sure you have a good support ‘staff’ (bridesmaids, maids of honour, groomsmen, parents, in-laws) who will help.
Birth of a child
Does it get any bigger than this? Most would agree that it doesn’t. There is simply nothing like bringing new life into the world, cradling it, loving it, and entering a world of uncertainty and hope.
Now, most mothers don’t feel up to a gung-ho party straight after giving birth. In fact, most new parents treasure the first few weeks or months with their child and don’t spare a thought to any major celebration. But the celebration is inevitable. Most cultures require, or at the very least strongly encourage a naming ceremony of some kind. Christian religions, for example, use baptism by water.
The timing of these ceremonies varies. It can be a few days after the birth or a few years.
In general, the celebrations aren’t wild – a far cry from celebrating a 21st birthday or graduation (although there is always that one person, isn’t there?). Mostly, they’re about wishing the baby well, bestowing gifts on the baby, and telling the mom she looks great.
There are plenty of milestones in life, events which deserve to be celebrated: your first serious job, for example. Buying your first house is also a biggie. Some celebrations are big and some are small. But they should have one thing in common: a good time should be had by all.
Image License: Creative Commons image source
Guest Author: Jemima Winslow is working her way through the list of life’s big events. Although she likes to keep her celebrations small and intimate, she has been known, on occasion, to go well and truly large.