34 Non-Birthday, Non-Anniversary, Non-Holiday Occasions to Celebrate

Exactly 20 years ago yesterday -- February 12, 1993 -- I opened the door for a blind date... and it turned out to be the door to the most beautiful future.
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Exactly 20 years ago yesterday -- February 12, 1993 -- I opened the door for a blind date... and it turned out to be the door to the most beautiful future. Standing there holding a single rose was the guy I had spoken to for an hour and a half on the phone and couldn't wait to meet in person. Used to dating tall guys, I was wearing high heels, and there he was, down a step, looking quite handsome but surprisingly shorter than I had imagined. (My mom ultimately concluded that I had been looking over the heads of all the good guys I should've been dating!)

By the time the patient waiter at Capriccio's in Providence gently nudged us to vacate our table -- shortly after 1:00 a.m. -- we were mutually enchanted. I had a ritual where I called my Nana in Boca the day after a blind date (she would wait with bated breath for my post-date reports), and the moment I awoke that next morning, I grabbed the phone to tell her I was pretty sure I had just gone on my last first date. She kvelled. I then dialed my Mom and told her we needed to go shopping that very afternoon -- for shorter heels!

The magic was instantaneous. David and I were engaged seven weeks later, and married that Labor Day weekend. Over the last 20 years, we've been through many of life's ups and downs, taking each step hand-in-hand and building an incredibly happy life together with our four amazing sons. The anniversary of that first date is precious to us, and we love celebrating it every year, instead of traditional Valentine's Day. And even though this year the blizzard and the flu conspired to cancel our special date night last weekend, we felt just as blessed to cuddle on the couch in front of a roaring fire, watching Tootsie -- total comfort food movie -- with our boys for maybe the hundredth time. (Such a classic! Never gets old, and Bill Murray always slays me in it.)

I am ever grateful that I answered the door that fateful evening.

There are plenty of big and small occasions you can seize to celebrate throughout the year, aside from the obvious stuff like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, major milestones and events like graduations, engagements and retirements. Many are one-time occasions or "firsts," while others are recurring and can become family traditions to commemorate. (My sweet Grandpa used to cut greeting cards in half and mail them to my siblings and me on our half birthdays! I still think of him every November 15th.)

Of course, a celebration doesn't need to involve something extravagant like a party or an elaborate dinner or a fancy bottle of champagne. It could be a date for ice cream or a special card or a few balloons or a batch of brownies. Just something that makes the person (or people) feel honored and the occasion feel more special than a garden-variety day.

With that celebration spirit in mind, here are 34 non-birthday, non-anniversary, non-holiday occasions to consider celebrating with your family:

  1. First date anniversary
  2. The last day of school
  3. A great report card
  4. The last night together before everyone goes off to camp/summer program/college
  5. The first night together after everyone comes home from camp/summer program/college
  6. Visits from the Tooth Fairy
  7. A promotion
  8. College acceptances
  9. Completing a major business deal
  10. Nailing an audition
  11. A health triumph or recovery
  12. The anniversary of a major health triumph
  13. Finishing a big project
  14. A first haircut or a haircut for a Locks of Love donation
  15. Accomplishing a personal goal like finishing War and Peace or improving pitch speed or running a 5K
  16. When someone special comes to visit
  17. Moving into a new house or finishing a renovation
  18. Achieving a diet or fitness goal
  19. Getting a role in a play
  20. Opening night
  21. Closing night
  22. Winning a special game, match or tournament
  23. Conquering a fear
  24. Being quoted or having someone's picture appear in the newspaper
  25. Checking off a bucket list dream
  26. Getting a driver's permit or license
  27. The end of a sports season
  28. Music recitals
  29. Receiving an award or honor
  30. The anniversary of a pet joining the family
  31. Getting elected or appointed to a position
  32. Half-birthdays
  33. Being accepted to a special program
  34. Just because... (My dad and stepmom threw a fabulous party last spring "just because" they wanted to surround themselves with all the family and friends they love. It was the best!)

So -- what do you think? Can you add a fun celebration-worthy occasion to the list?

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