"What are you celebrating today?" - Billboard near the entrance to the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California
Disneyland is putting a special emphasis upon celebrations. At any of their guest services locations you can receive a free button announcing that you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, graduation, marriage, or your first visit to the parks. Park cast members are encouraged to keep an eye out for the buttons and comment on your special occasion. It is a way to get cast members to notice guests as individuals instead of just part of a crowd that needs to be dealt with. It also personalizes the park experience for the guests increasing their satisfaction.
I subscribe to an email motivational thought for the day service that delivers a short quotation and something about that specific day. For example, last Saturday they announced that April 16 is Charlie Chaplin's birthday. I also knew that April 16, 2011 was the second annual World Circus Day! Carole and I decided to celebrate both occasions by watching a DVD of Charlie Chaplin's Circus and The Gold Rush. It was a lot of fun, and it also turned out to be educational. While watching Charlie Chaplin's Circus I realized that the clown acts performed in the film were ones frequently performed in circuses in the 1920's. (Chaplin released his film in 1928.) That inspired an article that I am currently working on for my historian's column in Clowning Around magazine, published by the World Clown Association.
Nursing home activity directors are constantly looking for something they can celebrate because that gives them ideas for events. Several years ago a nursing home hired me to perform on December 9 because they knew I was a tramp clown and that was Emmett Kelly's birthday.
Carole uses celebrations in her caring clowning to provide variety and prevent burn out. For example one year she celebrated the opening of the baseball season by taking some visual puns to a hospital. She showed people her baseball bat, a ball with wings from a Halloween bat decoration glued onto it. She also showed them her fly ball, a ball with a large plastic fly glued onto it. Her third gag was her foul ball, a ball with a small rubber chicken (fowl) glued onto it.
When Carole is in clown character she always has some smile face rings in her pocket. While interacting with somebody she is on the look out for something to celebrate. For example, if they mention they are going to get their first chemo treatment, she announces a celebration of the start of their road to recovery and gives them a ring. Instead of celebrating a milestone event, she sometimes celebrates a personal quality. For example, she may give a patient a ring in recognition of their bravery in facing treatments. She includes the employees and may give somebody a ring as a way to celebrate their commitment to keeping a hospital clean or assisting residents in a nursing home.
I recently mentioned synchronicity, which means you tend to find what you look for. If you look for positive things you find positive things. Looking for something to celebrate provides you with a positive focus helping you deal with life. About fifteen years ago I attended a Conference on the Positive Power of Humor and Creativity, sponsored by Joel Goodman's Humor Project. One of the speakers was the daughter of a Nazi concentration camp prisoner. She said her mother told her the key to surviving that horrific experience was looking for a Wow and a Whoopee every day. That meant looking for something every day that caused a sense of wonder and something that caused a sense of joy. Since then Carole and I have tried to put that into action. We don't succeed every day, but when we do, it improves our life. Today we saw fifty herons nesting in a rookery in our neighborhood.
What can you celebrate today? What celebration will make your life fuller and richer? What can you celebrate in your next performance to make it more interesting and enjoyable for you? What can you help those around you celebrate? How can you use a celebration to connect with others? How can you use celebrations to cope with life?