Celebrating The Little Things

I celebrated the tenth anniversary of my 21st birthday towards the beginning of shelter-in-place. When California shut down in mid-March, I still thought that I was going to be able to travel two months later. My plans were to go to a conference for work in April, travel somewhere in May, and end the semester in New York City for a national conference where I was presenting my research. But when May came around and my conferences became remote, I figured that I would travel somewhere for my half birthday instead. I assumed that by the time autumn came around, life would be somewhat back to normal – we’d socially distance, but I could feel comfortable traveling across the country or halfway across the world. Obviously, I was wrong. Instead, for over a year, I stayed home, cooked every meal at home, made my home my gym/ office/ movie theater, and the most exciting trips I took were to see holiday lights in the neighborhood. This weekend marks my half birthday, the day I swore in 2020 could “make up” for my simple birthday. Yet I felt so fulfilled with how we celebrated that May that I enjoyed my pandemic birthday as much as my next two afterwards (in Napa for 2021 and Santa Barbara for 2022). My half birthday now is a yearly reminder of how sometimes the simplest things can be the best.

I’ve always been a big proponent of celebrating the little things. While the big moments in our lives are the ones we will always remember to celebrate – birthdays, graduations, holidays, weddings – it can be so easy to forget to celebrate a delicious Taco Tuesday date night at home, a stunning sunset on your evening walk, or a day spent doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every moment of it. So when I knew that I was going to have a birthday at home two years ago, I immediately knew exactly how I wanted to celebrate. For each meal, I chose dishes I loved {blueberry chocolate chip crepes, a veggie burrito with cilantro lime rice + homemade guac, my favorite veggie pizza, and a pineapple upside down cake}, I had a long luxurious shower on a Tuesday, I watched a Lifetime-style movie in the afternoon while I gave myself a manicure + pedicure, I made time to drink sweet (non-alcoholic) wine and play my favorite board game, Clue, and I ended the evening with more of the sweet wine and my favorite drama, Law and Order: SVU. It felt relaxing and so much like me since I made sure to include all of the things I loved into a single day. While I obviously can’t take an extra long shower each day {unless I cut into my sleep schedule} or watch a movie in the middle of the day, I realized that many of these little things helped elevate my day and make my 31st feel so much more special.

I am sure I might have felt differently if I hadn’t been able to celebrate my 21st with my friends at the various bars in our college town’s quaint downtown or turn 30 in Mexico, snorkeling with the fish in the Caribbean waters. Celebrating a major milestone in 2020 was challenging; in fact, most of the year was a challenge for many people, whether or not they were trying to celebrate a milestone. What my birthday taught me, however, is that we can still find the joy in a year that could be so unprecedented and difficult. Maybe it is in making a dish you love or watching a movie you enjoy, but I urge you to find something that helps you find joy during both the certain and uncertain times. Six months after my 2020 birthday, I thought that it was one of my favorites, and that says something considering some of my other birthdays: 18 was celebrated at my senior prom – 19 was celebrated in New York City, getting my first Chanel handbag, and having a movie filmed at our hotel – 23 was celebrated in Chicago with a drink in my hand at all times – 24 was celebrated horseback riding on the beach in Cabo – 25 was celebrated on the Kona coast, where I swam with wild dolphins in the morning and went night snorkeling with manta rays – 26 was celebrated by witnessing the Aurora Borealis in Juneau, Alaska – 27 was celebrated in Catalina Island, the part of California that feels like you’re on an island vacation – & 30 was celebrated in the Mayan Riviera. I’d love to know, how do you celebrate the little things?

x Paris

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