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By Shannon Penrod

Last week my son turned 6 years old.  We decided to throw him a dance party.  It didn’t seem at all odd to me, he loves to dance and I wanted to do something that wouldn’t revolve around food and wouldn’t cost a small fortune.  Solution: Dance Party!  IMG00270-20090605-2059We found a great warehouse space that comes with a trampoline, a bouncy house, a Wii and an Xbox 360 (both hooked up to big screen TVs) – the rent was ridiculously cheap and I bartered the services of a great DJ. 

I did this for a little boy who has worked so hard to overcome autism.  My mom and my husband and I watched him at the party, which my friend Therese called a six year old rave, and we couldn’t believe how social he was.

Just three and a half years ago we realized there was a problem when we went to a friend’s birthday party and our son sat in the corner by himself, humming as he played with a Buzz Lightyear toy, he never even noticed there were other children at the party.  Last week he was the belle of the ball, laughing and running from activity to activity, talking to his friends, answering when his friends called him, even cracking jokes.  It was a great night, and it was filled with family and friends who had shown up to celebrate with us.

Towards the end of the party I had a moment.  You know one of those rushes of feeling and clarity that kind of takes your breath away.  I looked at my mom and my son and was acutely aware of how quickly time passes and how precious every moment is.  There were several moments when I considered not having a birthday party for my son this year – In this economy…aren’t we all carefully considering every expenditure? 

But as I looked around that warehouse room and saw all the faces of people we love and that love us, I knew that this would be a night my family would always remember.  In ten years we aren’t going to remember all of the daily struggles to pay bills and buy biomeds and secure therapy hours, we’re going to remember the celebrations.  I thought about the last ten years and the weddings, graduations, births and home comings we’ve enjoyed, there have been hard times too and even a few funerals, but when all is said and done, it’s the celebrations we remember the most.  I’m awfully glad that we took the time to find the joy in life, now I know…it’s in the celebrations

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