A graduation makes you stop, look around, and see where you've come from and where you hope to go.
This week my youngest son finishes elementary school, my daughter finishes middle school, and my oldest son, a high school junior, will serve in the honor guard at graduation - a dry run for next year.
Like all transitions, bittersweet.
We leave behind good things we will miss. My youngest is already mourning recess, and I will miss the atmosphere of elementary school - the glue sticks and finger paints, the tiny chairs and apple decor.
But some things we leave behind gladly. Anyone want to return to the days of middle school insecurity or high school drama? Anyone? Anyone?
Transitions also can produce worries. The First Locker in middle school. Entering high school and knowing your grades really count now. College Applications. Will your friends leave you behind? Will you ever make new friends? Will you spend the next three years upside-down in a trash can?
But oh, the joy of a fresh start, a clean sheet of paper before you to fill as you will. The chance to improve yourself, to make deep friendships, and to take steps toward the future.
That's what we celebrate - the joy, the hope, and the opportunity of a new start.