that takes the cake

Okay, I have a question. How do we celebrate special occasions beyond food? Or even, without any special food.

We have cake for every birthday. Cake for weddings. Pie for the birth of America. Turkey to give “thanks.” Ham and pies for the baby Jesus. BBQ for the soldiers and laborers. Cupcakes for baby showers. Chocolate for love. Beer for five o’clock. And don’t even get me started on the Jewish holidays, it seems like all of them revolve around special foods, except for that one that is about fasting.

I am trying to lose weight, but I can’t think of anything to celebrate my ending this seven month long ordeal except eating. Was it always this way? When I was a kid I used to like to have a party and have all my friends around me, but I also really looked forward to the cake. When I was a teenager I liked to go to clubs and dance and drink coffee and have a smoke. Hmm. . . sounds good but not a very likely way I am going to celebrate these days, with my ten year old daughter.

What is there to do? The next thing that comes to mind is to buy stuff. But I am not so much interested in that, for other good reasons. What did the ancient people do? Has it always just been about food? Maybe celebrating with food is instinctual and that is why we have a hard time being more creative.

Maybe I need to do some research and see if other people of other times and cultures had other ways of celebrating (besides sacrificing goats and burning wicker men). I need a good sustitute because a lot of the fat around my middle is celebratory fat, I am sure. And I would really like to celebrate reaching a healthy weight some day.

What are your ideas?

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About Annamelle

I split my time between homeschooling and writing a novel. I'm interested in and inspired by fairy tales, Jung, Buddhism, myths, architecture, nature, etiquette, hidden histories, dreams, Emerson, old books, Gaiman, and legends. "Make the most of yourself....for that is all there is of you." — Emerson

Posted on June 9, 2011, in foodie, health, mind hacks. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I have a theory, which may prove to be totally bogus. I think one reason we focus on feasting is that is a communal activity that most anyone can take part in it. If I celebrate by going rock climbing, my mom can’t come. If I celebrate by going for cocktails, my kids can’t come. (OK, that is almost food, but you see what I mean.) But the table is one place everyone goes. Even if we aren’t thinking about that consciously, I think that might be one reason why food is so ingrained.

    Some things are fun to celebrate with a massage or a new pair of shoes. But maybe the key to finding something not-food is to think about the group aspect of celebrating — what is something everyone can do. A bonfire? A beach party? Game night? Sleepover in the living room? Even if there is food, it won’t be the center, and choosing not to have much won’t feel like you are not really participating.

    • That is a good point Mina. Dining is pretty universal (unless you are on a special diet, which is a pretty modern concept.)

      Sometimes the “special gift” I really want is to be left alone, to have to whole day just to read and be alone (because that pretty much never happens) but that doesn’t seem like a very nice way to celebrate. Celebrating with a group would be great! I would love to have my peeps all around me, talking and laughing, that is the best. And I love the bonfire idea!

  2. I think that a wonderful way humans connect and celebrate is through stories. There is a game called Life Stories which helps in this regard, but is unnecessary if you are creative. Pick a topic or theme, and then go around the table, and everyone can share a related story. I love the Moth Podcast for this very reason – true stories told in front of a live audience.

    • We did something like this around Thanksgiving and Passover. I love it. And, of course, it was right up my alley. But I wonder if most people would feel comfortable participating. Maybe take it in another direction and go see a life show as a way of celebrating – a concert or speaker, etc.

      • I have been to a fun party a couple of times called a Potluck of Words. I don’t think I have enough friends here who would like it to do it, but other friends of ours did. People bring things to read — funny, sad, interesting — on a particular theme, or not. It’s a way of sharing without sharing too much, if you know what I mean.

  3. I celebrate by purchasing books for my Kindle…then closeting myself away and reading them in silence. Just keeping it real. 🙂

  4. Is there some really fun, kick back and relax sort of place to go? Or just take a day off from normal activities just to do nothing – or do whatever you want.

    And, as elsewhere someone suggested, a massage is a great idea. After all those stressful months, tension builds up in the body. Massage isn’t really a luxury at that point, it is medicine. Feels good and is good for you. Win, win!

    • I LOVE massages. But it doesn’t have that group aspect that Mina was talking about. A relaxing place to go sounds heavenly. But taking the day off from normal activities has the most promise – it doesn’t have to be expensive and everyone can participate.

  5. Since you love the outdoors, how about a nature hike? Maybe a picnic as part of it, but not really about the food. Just being in the real world, not the one humans have changed for their own purposes.

    When I was little, celebrations weren’t about the food. They were about playing games with friends, or swimming, or doing fun stuff. Food was part of it because you have to eat after a while, but it wasn’t the central activity. Maybe we lose that imaginative drive as we get older and just go for the easy activity of eating at parties. SInce you’re so imaginative, I’m sure you can think of something. Maybe a luau, where the kids can get up and do a hula to entertain everyone? Anyone else with a themed party in mind?

    • Thanks LurkerSmurf. I do being outdoors. I have asked for hikes, walks and tubing down a river for celebrations before. Good idea.

      Do you do anything special to treat yourself?

      • When things are hectic, treating myself usually means doing nothing, maybe watching a DVD, and NOT COOKING! Of course, then I have to eat fast food when I do get hungry, which is way less healthy than anything I would make. Where was I going with this? Oh, right: hot tub, bubbles, candles, book.

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