Aah, the holiday season! It brings out a spirit that for many people means a deep connection with friends and family. It provides us an opportunity to nurture family love in a way that perhaps no other time of year does. It gives us a time and space for being reminded of the many rituals we might hold dear. But often, we can let those special times be clouded by the hurried feel and increasing hustle and bustle of the season. As we enter the New Year, we can find it the very best time to begin anew with a few new rituals to continue to nurture the connections of family, home, the love we feel for each other, and the creative spirit.
What we know is that ritual has been an integral part of human life. It is present in every culture, every civilization, and every historical era. By definition, ritual is a set of actions thought to have had some symbolic value: decorating a tree, lighting candles, saying special words, ringing a bell, or any other action performed at regular intervals or on special occasions.
Here’s what else we know about rituals: they provide a backbone for learning and showing respect for other human beings, and perhaps most importantly, serve to strengthen bonds with others.
Here are a few tips to get your new rituals off to a running start:
Evaluate What You Already Do
Sometimes it is very easy to beat ourselves up for all that we are NOT doing rather than focusing on the many things we ARE doing already. Take some time to look at the already significant (or perhaps little) rituals you already have in place in your home. Do you have rituals surrounding your wake up time? Dinner rituals? Food preparation rituals? Take a look at when are already giving your kids opportunities to take quiet time, when they can create WITH you, and other ways you are already ritualizing your daily routines and the love you feel for each other, and rejoice in those special moments.
In a society where we are often connected more to our laptops and media programming than we are each other, creating a ritual in the home where we consciously remove media in effort to connect with each other can be important. In our house, we have a ritualized Cabin Night, an evening once a month when we read, make music, play, sing, and create together by candlelight. While we also love a good family movie night, these Cabin Nights serve to connect us in a way that is unique beyond compare. This is just an example of ways to create more and connect with each other while removing media.
Celebrate Each Other
One of the most special ways we can create ritual in our lives is to celebrate the specialness of each other. Try having one night a week (or month) that is your child’s turn to decide on the dinner menu. Leave notes around the house in a special way. Create a space in the home that allows for family connection so that when your family is in that space together it evokes the feeling of connection and brings forth such activities that nurture it.
The most special of rituals don’t just happen at times of year that are considered “holidays” but the everyday rituals we create at all the other times of the year. Everyday rituals can mean how you eat dinner (do you have a special book you read from, or a game time before everyone leaves the table? Even setting the table in a ritualized way or lighting a candle before the meal begins) or getting ready for bed (such as, story telling by candlelight, saying a rhyme or prayer together, kissing toes, knees, and elbows goodnight) or perhaps you ritualize mornings together (a story before getting out of bed, opening the shutters together to greet the day, or snuggling on the couch before getting going for the day).
Do a little research and find out what rituals you do are like what others do around the planet. Look at birthday celebrations, the change of seasons, how you mark the loss of a tooth or other growth milestones.
Creating and honoring the rituals in our lives, the special actions we take that symbolically and actually connect us to one another, is an integral part of family and nurturing our creative selves as human beings. As you look to the New Year and all it brings, may you discover the ritual of love together.
Ginger Carlson, author Labels: Wonderwise