At BSPC we know how to acknowledge Advent and Easter and important milestones, but life offers us so many reasons to celebrate.


When I taught fifth grade, I had an applause sign in my classroom. One of those you might see on a film set, the light flashing to cue the live audience. My students were allowed to turn it on for one another. I wanted to encourage the ten-year-olds I spent most of my time with to be intentional about noticing, to make a big deal out of small things.


We clapped for everything from high scores on spelling tests to failed experiments, waking up without the snooze button to not falling in gym class. Apologies and reconciliations, remembering homework and weather that felt perfect for open windows. We clapped for the computer repair person and the custodian, and the kids got a kick out of turning on the sign when they heard the principal’s “important shoes” clicking down the hall toward our classroom. There was applause for growth in reading and tiny seeds germinating and, in the spring when we borrowed the egg incubator, for each chick that cracked through its shell.


To get this culture started, I read aloud a book called I’m in Charge of Celebrations. It’s the story of a young girl who tells of treasured experiences like dancing in the wind on Dust Devil Day and sleeping outside on a hot summer night during The Time of the Falling Stars. “Last year I gave myself one hundred eight celebrations – besides the ones they close school for,” she says. Although the book mostly celebrates desert phenomena – a chance encounter with a coyote, a triple rainbow – Byrd Baylor uses wonderful descriptive language to stretch readers into new awareness.


At home, this idea provides a chance to build more structure around what our family values: things like sleep and nature, books, and family meals. Walking around the block recently, our six-year-old whispered, “Stop! Look over there, it’s double rabbits!” We high five when the librarian lets us check out holds that put us over the book limit, light candles at the table to accompany a rare sugary cereal, and revel in unusual precipitation like graupel hitting the metal roof. Over the long weekend our family gathered at the aunts’ lakehouse to christen a new boat dock – there were cousins in wet swim suits, a short speech and clinking cans and, of course, applause.


Our lives are enriched by celebrating what many people may not even notice.

What makes something, or someone, worthy of a celebration?

What makes you want to give the earth a standing ovation?

While you’re at it, find a reason to give yourself a round of applause too.


If you’re in the mood for more reading, I’d recommend any of Baylor’s books, for kids and grownups alike: 

Everybody Needs a Rock or The Table Where Rich People Sit or The Way to Start A Day….


-Written by Jenni Betz, Broad Streeter since 2007

Enjoying the Broad Street Blog? Be sure to subscribe so you never miss another post


  1. Rosemary Tolliver July 6, 2022 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Thanks, Jenni! I remember substitute teaching for you (and your teaching partner) and I remember the “applause” culture that you instilled in those students. I recently listened to an interesting Glennon Doyle podcast with Alua Arther called “How To Live So We Can Die Peacefully.” In it, one of the speakers imagines her family and loved ones — gathered at her passing — applauding for her life well-lived! What a wonderful image!

  2. Nancy Hobe July 6, 2022 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    This was great, Jenni. We need an applause sign at church, and I have a couple of people in mind as the first recipients.

  3. Barbara Blanke July 11, 2022 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed this uplifting and motivating idea for living life. I applaud YOU! Thanks!

Leave A Comment