Celebrate Good … Character?

A lot is celebrated today — fame, money, beauty, marriage, sports, I even celebrated a good hair day last week. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating; I love a good Hooray! But I think it’s also important to be aware of what exactly we’re celebrating, and maybe a good hair day just doesn’t cut it. This past weekend, we celebrated my sister Lora. She recently graduated with another two degrees. Of course, we are so proud of her, and the celebration was a traditional graduation celebration, but it was also much more than that. I could say she’s the smart one of the family, and that’s true, but a lot more than just her smarts got her through those classes, so we also celebrated her determination, her perseverance, and her dedication to her learning goals.

Story, in true Story fashion, was excited to get together with the family and celebrate, but she wanted to know why she didn’t get a party for “graduating” first grade. My first response was, “We celebrate milestones. The in-between grades aren’t milestones.” This, of course, didn’t make any sense to Story, and several why questions followed. Maybe rightly so.

Lora had suggested that we make a point to emphasize accomplishments, celebrations being a big part of that emphasis, to help guide Story toward building character. So when I had an opportunity to elaborate on the upcoming celebration en route to the party destination, I grabbed it. It didn’t hurt that I had Story captive in the car for three hours. I came up with four Lora qualities we were going to celebrate.

  1. Working hard. Lora is incredibly intelligent and could easily coast through, passing each course. But she didn’t. She worked hard, long, late hours to actually learn the material. She put forth the effort to do her best even though she didn’t have to. No one was watching over her shoulder; no one cared if she learned. But she did. She wanted to learn, and she did.
  2. Being herself. Lora could be tenured by now, but she decided that wasn’t a good fit for her. And I agree. Lora has a gypsy soul when it comes to interests, and she is happiest when learning something new. Instead of following the traditional route, she had the courage to do what she wanted and be herself. Being yourself always takes courage but is so worth it.
  3. Constantly learning. This pairs with the previous item in Lora’s case, but this is a good lesson for anyone, even those who are centered on one or two specific interests. Brains are muscles, people. Give them a workout and learn something new or learn more about what you love.
  4. Trying, failing, and trying again. This is a big one for Story. She is quite competitive and absolutely hates to be wrong. We have a “high-fives for mistakes” policy in this house in an attempt to help her learn that she can’t learn without making mistakes. It’s a long process, and we’ve had many, many setbacks, but making it into a celebration changes the scenery a bit.

I hope our weekend celebration made an impact on Story. Granted, she was more excited about the hotel pool than anything else, but I think that perhaps one day, especially when she wants to celebrate herself, she will remember. A little reiteration never hurt either.