Nothing is more important to our happiness and well-being than knowing that others care about us. Expressions of connection can come through companionship, words, and caring acts that show how we’re special to someone. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that connection is a gut-level need for all human beings. Further, it turns out that we’re actually designed to be kind. Scientists can prove that kindness is good for us, not only spiritually, but physiologically.
So, how can we all do ourselves some good?
The importance of shared ceremony
Ceremonies, celebrations and rituals — both in person and online – are great ways to maintain and grow connections.
In a difficult period, continuing with rituals and celebrations helps us maintain our emotional equilibrium and even find occasions for renewal and joy. Field experiments have shown that participating in group rituals can reduce levels of a stress hormone in the blood and lower a person’s heartbeat. Around the globe, ceremony and ritual mark the most important moments in life.
Some of the most important, most universally welcomed ceremonial occasions are birthdays. In fact, a Canadian research group has published a survey parsing the various ways in which almost everybody appreciates birthday celebrations.
The yearly ceremonies and little rituals that friends and families create to celebrate birthdays draw communities closer. That’s certainly the way Jim remembers it from his years as an administrator at St. John’s Residence for Boys, a residential program for at-risk adolescents. The staff had a few traditions for birthdays that started with employees simply gathering during the lunch break to eat together. The birthday boy or birthday girl would wear a tasseled cap held on with a chin strap and a wonderfully silly, plastic, orange pinky ring. Over time, these rituals evolved and grew. Pretty soon, the parties added a secondary honoree, the “keeper of the knife,” who had the most important role of cutting the birthday cake. People started bringing food for others to share, and the loosely organized lunches developed into potluck feasts.
At the group home, Jim also went out of his way to celebrate the residents’ birthdays. Although many of the boys acted as though they didn’t want the attention, even “tough guys” got their feelings hurt if their birthday was not celebrated. Jim celebrated by having the group gather, singing “Happy Birthday” and letting the person celebrating his birthday choose whatever he wanted for dinner. It was good old-fashioned fun!
Today, at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Jim and Chris recognize milestones of the team. Jim sends birthday emails while Chris sends notes marking work anniversaries. Sure, it’s time consuming with thousands of team members! But the response is worth the investment. The notes we get back express how good it makes our team feel and it begets some interesting dialogue that ordinarily would not have happened.
In our family, Jim is the one who reminds everyone whose birthday it is. That is because his assistant Patty keeps him organized. One year, the keeper of the birthdays (Jim) forgot his youngest son Matt’s birthday and to this day it’s something for which he feels terrible.
Just remember, being recognized and acknowledged on our birthday feels good no matter your age! Who is on your birthday list? Remember a text, email and call can go a long way in making someone’s day.
Wider and wider circles of community
As humans, we are genetically predisposed to seek community and to care for one another. And we get to live that out in our immediate and extended families, and at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM We think of all of you as part of our community.
Something else that is close to our hearts is Smile Farms, a nonprofit we founded with our families to create meaningful work opportunities in agricultural settings for men and women who are developmentally disabled. Smile Farms is the signature philanthropic partner of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM We have been humbled to watch our company team members rally behind Smile Farms and its important mission.
As difficult as the last year has been for all of us and as obvious as it may seem to say it, people with disabilities have in many cases had a particularly challenging year. One of our Farmers from the Viscardi Center’s Smile Farms campus hasn’t left his home in a year.
During this particularly challenging time, we wanted to do something more to support this group:
Birthdays + Smile Farms = BIRTHYAY!
Supporting a good cause certainly screams YAY to us!
We recently launched the BIRTHYAY! gift collection. For each item purchased from our special BIRTHYAY! gift collection, we will donate 20% of the net proceeds* to support our signature philanthropic partner, Smile Farms.
Adults with developmental disabilities represent a substantial percentage of America’s population. They are an important part of our communities. At Smile Farms, our Farmers experience the satisfaction of mastering new skills, the fulfillment of contributing to their team and community, and the self-respect and pride of taking home a paycheck.
All the best,
Chris and Jim
Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.
*“Net Proceeds” shall be defined as the gross sales price of the product less any and all taxes, service charges, shipping and handling charges, discounts, gift certificates, promotional gift certificates, promotional offers (e.g. airline miles, points, e-money, etc.) credits, rebates, chargebacks, refunds, credit card processing fees and gift certificate cancellations.
© 2021 Smile Farms Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, EIN: 46-5360466