marking time - do we really need a party?

Do preschooler’s really need graduation?

I ask this question as the proud father of a son who just finished preschool, graduation ceremony and all (the start of many graduation ceremonies ahead, I surmise).

This week was also my birthday, so I could ask the same of birthday parties.

I’ll admit, I can be a bit skeptical towards what seems to be becoming an over-hyped celebratory culture as we mark the passing of time - EVERYTHING is marked with some sort of significance. Whether it’s participation ribbons, stickers for good behaviour, gobs of money spent on birthday parties, ceremonies for every club, sport, and school one participates in, marking the time has become a sort-of cottage industry. We need to know we’re important! But I wonder, when we have celebrations for each and every milestone and transition and event, do we risk devaluing the very importance we intend to acknowledge?

But I also think marking the time with ceremony (and even some moderate excess!) is a very good thing. As we mark growth, achievement, change, transition, these ceremonies are as much celebratory as an exercise in self-awareness - a much-needed grounding in reality. Our son knows change is afoot and a preschool graduation helps him navigate such change. He needs to know that the transition from preschool to school shouldn’t be taken lightly. And when it comes to birthdays, despite all our frenzied attempts to prolong aging, a party can serve as a healthy dose of reality of time’s relentless march forward.

Yes, my skepticism tells me we could pull back a bit on the extravagance of our parties (and even some of the things we celebrate), but I’m realizing such skepticism can’t come at the expense of reality. Change happens. Why not party in the process!


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