November 27, 2023 2 min read 4 Comments

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.


Ellen

4 Responses

Kelly McGowan
Kelly McGowan

November 29, 2023

the official start of the holiday season in my extended family is Peppernuts Day, which is when the full bore of the family in the area descends upon one household to bake industrial quantities of little ~3/4"ish square, dense as a rock, will last the entire year without going stale if you keep the bag closed, spiced shortbread cookies from my grandma’s recipe. we’ve been doing this longer than i’ve been alive and it’s an All Day Event, there are usually about 20 baking trays in circulation at any given moment, and everyone who shows up goes home with a gallon-size ziplock bag or two of peppernuts. that’s happening this saturday, and as much as family gatherings are usually stressfully loud and overwhelming for me i have to admit that the promised reward of peppernuts is a pretty hefty motivation to go anyway XD

Donna W Bohmfalk
Donna W Bohmfalk

November 28, 2023

How beautifully and thoughtfully you write! Thank you for your words of meaning and encouragement. This an especially hard time of year for me. However, I’d like to share with you a ritual my mom created in our family. There are many but this one means so much to me. When my mom got older and finally gave in to move in with my sister and her family Thanksgiving moved from my home where I grew up toy my sisters. She became the family Thanksgiving hostess. My mom insisted on a special white tablecloth, a mere bedsheet, and a variety of colored pens where each thanksgiving everyone who attended the meal wrote what they were most thankful for in their lives
In addition each of us would add a blessing to my mom’s blessings jar. After the meal my mom would have us read what we wrote on the tablecloth and she would read one of the blessings from the jar. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called my mama home on December 27 2019. We have continued this precious memory of her since her passing. It is in many ways the highlight of our day and I am thankful she left us with such a beautiful and meaningful experience to our connection with her as well as life and love. God bless you this holiday season as we celebrate the baby born to give us eternal life and the opportunity to spend it with the people we love. ❤️🙏

Denise Inman
Denise Inman

November 28, 2023

My biggest ritual now is to get my hot drink in the morning and sit on the floor with my cats. They just love Nerf darts, I toss them up in the air and they jump and bat them around.
Them after the kitties are worn out, I sit and knit or read.
Thank you for these little bits of thoughts to get our minds off the craziness of life. They help us to focus on the here and now.

Barbara S Neel
Barbara S Neel

November 28, 2023

Yes, my big ritual right now is to work on a cross stitch of the painting “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” by John Singer Sargent every morning. It’s large and complicated, and doing one strand of thread every day first thing in the morning is how I have been waking up for a couple of months now. By the time I finish one strand, I’m awake and ready for the rest of the day. If I don’t have time to work on it, then I have to do 2 strands the next day. It is coming along slowly but surely.

Leave a comment