ritual – noun
a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone.
Have I mentioned my deep fondness for rituals? Yes, probably. But for ritual sake, let me say it again… I have a great love for turning small everyday moments into special ceremonies and celebrations. What I’m starting to see, though, is that children do too.
What with their love for birthday parties, and Christmas and Easter time. Presents and chocolate have a little something to do with that, sure, but I like to think the unbridled joy in their rosy cheeks and little restless limbs are also on account of knowing that they have something to look forward to. To count down to. The events we turn into little traditions are not merely happy moments when everyone is together, they are also times when our whole attention is focused on the present.
I’ve always had my own rituals (some normal, some rather peculiar), but seeing new ones emerging in my small family, ones that we start, create and build on together, gives me great joy.
One such ritual is our roadtrip each year to the same beach house on the same West Coast, just outside of Cape Town. The boys look forward to it with as much glee as they do those birthday candles that never blow out.
When the big day arrives, we all bundle into our car, packed with endless games, books and good food, and we head out of town. The feeling of having the nose of the car pointed away from the bright city lights, getting closer and closer to the sea breeze, sand dunes, wild ostrich families, shells begging to be collected and pools begging to be jumped in. Well, it’s everything.
Watching the boys get their little hearts all worked up… everything. Watching them revelling in simple life joys, like sandcastle building and sunset gazing, carpool singalongs, marshmallows on the braai and end of the day hugs in Mum’s lap… everything. Listening to the rare golden silence on the roadtrip back home, with the kids too pooped to move or to keep their eyes open… everything.
It reminds me that we have a responsibility, an exciting, welcome responsibility, as Mums and Dads, to create a life for our kids. Not just to go about the motions, but to create something of our own, to actively play a role in igniting the magic – in life, in our kids’ lives and in their everyday mindsets.
Roadtrip rituals, destination dinners, boat days and sushi, reading hour, tea time… these things add an extra glow to our years. Making traditions out of them also reminds us to make time for the important things, and not let the busyness of life take over. They remind us to honour them. Because by honouring them, we honour each other.
Even when one of my sons buries himself alive in the beach sand or when everyone refuses to eat my Iranian fare… I still can’t help but get excited in planning the next trip or dinner. It’s the charm of the ritual, the satisfaction of simple traditions.
What are your tribe’s little or grand rituals?