Although the stores have been selling sleigh bells, and Santas, and snow covered greens for months, December is what signals the beginning of the holiday season for me.
It's a season filled with friends and family, each of us celebrating the traditions of our past and perhaps embracing new ones as our lives and families change. We do many of these things out of habit, but I would like to suggest that we see them not as habits, but as rituals.
A ritual is more than just a or an activity we enjoy regularly at a certain time of year. Instead, it is something we do consciously and with great awareness that ties us to one another and to the larger community.
My mother understood this. She lived with us for some time, and each year when we would put up the tree, she wanted to go over every ornament, reminiscing about where we got it and when. These actions solidified her memories and brought her closer to her grandchildren who hung the ornaments when she no longer could.
I get that now. Maybe it’s age, but I find myself taking the time to remember the places we visited and the times we bought the ornaments. The ritual of hanging the ornaments and reminiscing about them makes me feel connected to her, now that she is gone.
Rituals surround the holidays and significant transitions in our life, giving us a sense of structure. Through them, we create a treasury of shared memories and experiences. On a smaller scale, rituals offer us a chance to take time out from the routine and chaos of our day-to-day lives and create meaning.
It might be sitting down each morning with a specific project we work on at that time and in that place. By creating a particular mood and taking special care with the experience, we create the ritual. We might light a lovely candle, drink tea in a favorite cup, or work on a particular project to create a space in which we connect with our deepest thoughts and feelings.
Do you have any rituals you enjoy? I would love to hear about them in the comments.
Warm wishes to you this new holiday season.
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